Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Videojet Printing System

I've written a couple of posts about the innovative American Can Company.  One was about their button down can.  Another was about their Mira Form II can design.  This third one is about the Videojet printing system.

From what I can tell, this can dates to around 1973.  I thought the Videojet printing referred to printing the label on a piece of paper which was then wrapped around a blank can*, as was done on this promo can.  But in doing some research, not only did I discover that I was wrong about the printing but I also found out the Videojet system discussed on this can went on to become Videojet Technologies, Inc., which still exists today. 

Here's a paragraph from one of the websites I found:

During the 1970s the company's growth was furthered by new applications that led to the development of the Model 9000, the world's first industrial ink-jet identification system. The canning industry, in particular, became a major customer. American Can Co. inquired about using Videojet technology to print date codes onto beverage cans, which moved at a rate of 2,000 cans per minute during production. Despite the investment of millions of dollars, the industry's early attempts to accomplish this had been unsuccessful. Videojet engineer Tom Madden, who later became the company's vice-president of applied research and development, was involved in the development of an extremely successful prototype that was piloted at a Milwaukee brewery. The prototype quickly evolved into a global beverage industry standard, and by the 1990s Videojet printers were coding billions of beverage cans annually.

My 7-year old son recently asked, "Why do people collect cans?"   I couldn't come up with a real good answer at the time, but now I realize you never know what you're going to learn from reading a can.  Most of the time you'll just learn how many extra calories you just consumed.  But in this case, I learned a bit about the printing business, from its early ink-jet days in the late 60's to modern printing systems.  And all that from of a can that looks like it was designed for Atari 2600 gamers.

*You can see in the above pic that the Videojet can is a can just like the blank can on the left, but it has a paper wrapper with the Videojet information on it.


  1. "but now I realize you never know what you're going to learn from reading a can".

    Yes, this is true. I sometimes watch a quiz on the television. Now I do know little about Sports, but thanks to my cans I could answer that the 1904 Olympics were held in St. Louis or that the Green Bay Packers are an NFL team.
    You also can learn a lot about the US-states from the 7-up sets from the 70's

    1. It's funny you mention the US-states 7 Up cans. I'm going to be doing a post soon on that set. I don't have the complete set yet but it's still worth mentioning for those who haven't heard of it.