What is the best way to print on aluminium cans?



Aluminium cans have become increasingly popular for beverages, in recent years.  It’s not difficult to see why. This is because they are:


EASY to recycle, with an average can containing 72% of recycled metal, according to the Can Makers Association.

LIGHTWEIGHT easily stacked and easy to ship out which means they have a lower carbon footprint, in terms of logistics and supply chains.

CORROSION free −aluminium cans never rust.


They are also a shining example of true “closed loop” recycling. This means they are remade into new cans, which is not the case with glass or plastic as these are typically “down-cycled “into a lesser product.

New markets are continuing to develop such as craft beer products, canned water and energy drinks which means producers can reach their target audience more easily.

There has been a massive boom in the craft beer sector recently, with the introduction of innovative products and colourful packaging which has meant brewers are now positioning the aluminium can as a “mini-keg” that delivers perfect draft-quality fresh beer to the glass.

Printing and coding on cans provides customer reassurance, product traceability as well as the opportunity for marketing promotions via the use of QR codes.  However, the industry provides many challenges when choosing the most suitable printing system.



With high productivity operating in the industry, the canning lines move very rapidly and often operate on a 24/7 basis.  This means that the printing system must be able to keep up with the lines, as any downtime is reflected in the loss of production.

There may be a need for several lines of text eg production date, a best-before date, batch code etc and the printers need to be easy to maintain and hassle-free, to keep the lines running.  High quality print is a must for legibility and visibility.

 The production environment may be difficult with a hot, moist atmosphere which may adversely affect the printer.  The machine needs to be easy to clean from a hygiene point of view and non-corrosive.

The printer’s interface needs to be easy to use by all the operators and also have various levels of security to prevent any errors.  It also needs to be quick and simple to change, not to impede the running of the line. The machine printheads must be robust, and able to operate in challenging conditions such as hot atmospheres and the nozzles remain unblocked.  The system should be cost-effective, with minimum of consumable wastage.

The aluminium can also provide many challenges for the printer - its very shape with curved top and bottom, can give difficulties and the can itself may come in varying shapes and sizes.



The Hitachi CIJ printing system is the ideal solution for printing and coding on aluminium cans.  It offers the user several benefits such as: 

  • Simple and easy to use – the interface can be readily changed to provide text, numbers or marks,
  • Economical – the solvent used is very cost-effective so there is little wastage
  • Easy and quick to maintain – the fast-running production line will not be impeded by downtime
  • Robust and reliable – both machine and printheads are built to be used in challenging environments. (IP class).



With an industry-leading 5-year warranty and a tailored maintenance plan available, the Hitachi CIJ offers complete peace of mind to the customer.

Training is available for customers, either on-site or off-site and technical advice is always available, via the telephone.  Our experienced and trained engineers can assist with any problems.

The Hitachi CIJ can also be used by can manufacturers themselves, if full tracking and visibility is needed for internal quality procedures.  Invisible UV ink is available, as well as a range of other colours.

The Hitachi CIJ system is also an ideal product which offers full flexibility – as production increases then it is easy to adapt.  In short it is a system that meets the needs of today as well as tomorrow, future-proofing your investment.