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Why Use Metal Cans

Metal Paint Cans

Metal might not be the flashiest material in packaging these days, and likely hasn’t been since the 1920s, but it remains an essential product for both manufactures and consumers. Think about the last time you filled a vehicle with gas, purchased paint or went to a ball game. Metal containers are involved in our lives almost every day because many of their qualities cannot be found in other materials.



Advantages of Metal

Glass and plastic products certainly have their place in every laboratory, but the advantages of metal in some settings are undeniable. Several reasons to use metal include: recyclability, durability and standardization.

  • Metal has a lighter environmental footprint than plastic because metal is easy to recycle and can deteriorate through natural processes.
  • Plastic is susceptible to heat and glass can be too frail for some responsibilities. Stainless steel is a metal that can withstand more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Metal is also extremely durable for its size and thickness, lending it to use in transportation.
  • Metal packaging tends to adhere to uniform volumes that align between labs and across borders. Standard sizes include: pints, quarts, gallons and liters.

Other strengths include non-combustible construction, choice of linings and price. Although the cost of metal is influenced by raw materials and labor factors, competition with plastic has kept the price low, making it as stable as any other packaging material on the market.



Parts of a Metal Containers

Metal packaging uses its own collection of product vocabulary. Ears are not for listening and beads are not just for decoration. Let’s review the anatomy of pans, pails and drums.

  • Bails are the name for handles on a can or pail.
  • Beads, or rolling hoops, are rounded depressions around the body of a metal container to improve performance and appearance.
  • Chimes are the top or bottom lips of a metal container.
  • Cover is another name for lid.
  • Ears are devices attached to a can or pail that secure bails, or handles.
  • Fittings, or bungs, are openings of various sizes that are used to fill and dispense the contents.
  • Lithography, called litho for short, is a printing process to enhance the exterior appearance of a package.

Other terms for metal are specific to design, and frequently involve the style of closure mechanism, often referred to as friction. Various types include single, multiple, interior and full friction.



Types of Metal Container

F-Style Cans



Metal is commonly used in several forms of packaging. This section examines metal cans, steel pails and steel drums in more detail.


Metal cans come in a variety of shapes and sizes. One of the most popular cans that Qorpak sells is the F-style can. Metal F-style cans (shown above) are ideal for storing or transporting liquids. Screw top lids provide a smaller closure than round paint cans, granting extra control while pouring and a security during transportation or heat changes.


Steel pails are used most often for industrial purposes. Diverse lid options provide accessibility and usability for most applications. Pails are particularly popular for storing combustible or sensitive liquids. They also can incorporate liners to add a second layer of protection. Qorpak has a pail liner for 5 gallon open head containers.


Steel drums generally come in a 55-gallon volume with two closure options. Metal open head drums use bolt locking rings to secure the lid. Metal closed head drums feature small closures and include chemical-resistant linings that are ideal for harsh chemicals or petroleum-based liquids.



Still not convinced that metal is the appropriate product? Compare and contrast its qualities with another article about choosing plastic or glass. Between all three materials, you should be able to find one to meet any need.