Canning the can

How can that highly familiar item the drinks can be made safer, more hygienic and easier to use?

The aluminium drinks can is such a familiar object that most of us probably never consider its design. It is convenient, sturdy, practical and relatively cheap to produce. Nonetheless, it has its shortcomings. One of the key downsides to the can is that, once opened, it cannot be resealed, putting it at a major disadvantage when compared to the plastic bottle. This also means that customers who have opened a can cannot go anywhere without a risk of spillage. As a result, those using cans must either discard their drink unfinished or finish it quickly – an act that can have unfortunate consequences in the case of carbonated beverages. Equally, an open can is an invitation to the ingress of insects, dirt and other undesirable matter. Apart from another problem associated with the can's ringpull system is the fact that it is difficult and hazardous to open with just one hand. Anyone who has ever attempted this trick with a can will be familiar with the degree of digital strength and dexterity it requires to achieve this feat without spillage or – worse – dropping the can completely. This last is not just a frivolous problem restricted to those who only have one hand free for whatever reason, but is a serious issue to those for whom disability may means they only have the use of one hand. Equally, for those with conditions such as arthritis, using a ring-pull may not be feasible at all. The Challenge What is needed, then, is a new approach to the opening mechanism that obviates these problems. After all, this would not be the first time. The original cans were designed to be opened with a metal tool, only to be superseded by the classic ring-pull, which has latterly been improved upon with the lever systems seen on cans today. So it follows, then, that a further evolution in the technology would not be unthinkable. So the requirements are that the device can be opened easily with one hand and that it can be re-sealed and that these changes should not involve a significantly greater cost in terms of production and manufacture. The solution we have in mind uses a clever piece of engineering and is currently undergoing extensive consumer tests with a view to gaining widespread consumer acceptance. However, there is nothing to say you can't come up with a superior alternative. -Solution- Solution to the March 2013 coffee time challenge The solution to March's Coffee Time Challenge comes from German company 4Pack and is called the CrazyCan. The CrazyCan seal is a flat PET cap combined with a PET sleeve, which keeps the drinking brim of the can clean and hygienically sealed. This reassures the consumer that they are drinking from a clean can. The consumer simply pulls off the CrazyCan seal using the specified flap. Then, they softly press the centre of the cap with a finger, which lowers the valve and degasses the can (for drinks containing CO2). By pressing the cap harder, they open the closure completely; a snapping mechanism keeps it open and fixed to the can. The drink is now ready for pouring or drinking straight from the can. When they have drunk enough, the consumer simply presses two fingers on the edge of the opened cap. This lifts the valve into its original position, closing the can securely with a reassuring popping sound. This makes the can leak proof – it also stops CO2 escaping, which keeps the drink fizzy. For 'still' drinks, a pre-tension in the closure system guarantees no leaks during use. Drinks containing CO2 simply strengthen this effect.