Lightweight sleeve applied over the tops of beverage cans addresses hygiene concerns for unopened cans so that consumer can drink safely and with peace of mind.
The region of European north of Greece that includes Serbia and adjacent countries is historically a kind of incubator for inventors; the area counts among its distinguished inventor alumni personages such as physicist/chemist Mihajlo Pupin and the world-renowned Nikola Tesla.
“We have an inventive nature in our roots,” states inventor Tome Balalovski, who hails from the recently christened (as of February 2019) Republic of North Macedonia and brings a different market to the area’s inventive heritage: a packaging patent.
It’s for a “Protective foil of food products packed in a can bottle” for which Balalovski was granted patent documentation from Macedonian State Office of Industrial Property. He wanted the invention to be exposed to a wider audience, which meshes perfectly with Packaging Digest’s history of working with inventors in reporting on patented packaging ideas.
What is this about and what are the benefits?
Balalovski: It is an invention for the area of the industry that carries out the production of drinks packed in an aluminum beverage can.
The benefits of this invention are full protection to every individually canned product, starting at the point of manufacture to point of use by the consumer.
You refer to this as a can bottle, but is this specifically intended to be used as a sleeve over standard aluminum beverage cans for liquids?
Balalovski: Yes, I refer to this as a can bottle, but it is specifically intended to be used as a sleeve over standard aluminum beverage cans for liquids, immediately after factory filling and closing, and before secondary packaging. The shape and size of the cans will not change. The sleeves can be made of different materials, specified in my patent document; specific examples include aluminum, nylon, aluminum-nylon, paper or a combination of these materials.
My preferred option is an aluminum foil/polyvinyl chloride foil heat-shrink capsule or heat-shrinkable film foil.
The foils can be quite thin, similar to the foil found on a wine bottle closure.
What specific portions of the can are protected—and is one sleeve applied per can?
Balalovski: With my invention, the cans are protected over the top opening and several centimeters below. Several centimeters below must be included because the consumer drink is touching that area with their lower lips. One sleeve is applied to each can is shown in the picture examples.
What makes it better than current alternatives?
Balalovski: There have not been good alternatives until my invention. There are aluminum foil lids, which are not sufficiently adequate, safe, and are insufficiently functional. Or there are toppers molded of polypropylene plastic that are relatively expensive to make versus foil. In addition, there is no product protection at the point where the consumer’s lower lip touches the can.
What sparked the idea?
Balalovski: It was sparked by my own observations, especially on negative, bad or insufficient appearance and coupled associated with my long-standing inventory experience. I thought, “People must no longer touch unprotected, dusty and dirty cans!”
For what can sizes is it suitable for? And for any particular types of drinks?
Balalovski: It is suitable for all sizes of single-serve drink/beverage cans, but specially cans in milliliter sizes of 250, 330, 340, 355, 375, 440 and 500. It is suitable for all types of canned drinks including juice, beer, coffee, soda and more.
Describe briefly how this runs on a beverage canning line.
Balalovski: On a beverage canning this can run for single or group line and can be a new or modified machine; it depends on the production line used by the factory.
Immediately after filling and closing the cans, a suitable machine descends/applies the premade protective sleeves to each can. This equipment will require a small amount of filling speeds, bearing in mind that such a process must be done. Food safety above all!
What is the approximate cost per can to implement hygienic sleeving?
Balalovski: With the exception of a modest investment in a hygienic sleever, the approximate material cost per can to implement this can be counted in just a few cents. Personally, I do not recommend that the brand increase the price of the canned products, the investment will pay for itself.
What’s the status?
Balalovski: The current status of my invention is granted patent only in North Macedonia and has been entered in the international patent organization.
Balalovski: Because my patent is strictly intended, directly linked to the factory production of beverages in cans, I am seeking such an operation, with which I would begin negotiations of licensing, i.e., selling my Intellectual property patent copyrights.
Anything else to mention that’s important?
Balalovski: In the future, everyone can benefit from the use of my patent.
As manufacturers, the factories will increase the reputation, production and, of course, the financial benefits of their brands. Also, exporters, importers, transporters, distributors and markets will be very satisfied by the new type of cans. But the biggest benefit will be for billions of consumers, whom I am confident will be quite satisfied with the application of my innovation.
Also in this patent I have wonderful and perfect, but hidden, business strategies, which remain a part of negotiations with a future potential company in order to apply my patented invention.
Much food for thought for packaging will be found at PackEx Toronto June 4-6, 2019, where innovative ideas in containers and design, the latest machinery and automation solutions and free education at Centre Stage will be available. For more information, visit PackEx Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________________