Using the Aluminum Can to Enhance Label Design

The craft beer market is saturated with competition for shelf-space, elevating packaging decoration as the primary differentiator for consumer attraction. Fat Head’s Brewery based in Middleburg Heights, OH, found the perfect recipe to deliver award-winning craft brews in a uniquely branded package, solidifying their brand authenticity among the discerning craft beer consumer market.

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    In a nutshell:

    • Fat Head’s Brewery creatively uses the aluminum beer can to deliver a dramatic metallic shine on their product label, without the cost of specialty inks or foils
    • MCC Hammer Packaging optimizes the graphic with varying levels of base white to create opaque and transparent areas on the label
    • Web Offset press technology brings the concept to reality, marrying offset print precision with the richness of flexo white ink
    • The result is a stand-out can label complimenting Fat Head’s award-winning craft beer


      The Opportunity

      Aluminum cans account for more than 60% of the craft beer market packaging in the United States, with forecasted growth through the next 3-5 years. Brewers are choosing cans because of their lower cost compared to glass bottles, lighter weight for reduced shipping costs, improved recyclability, and longer product shelf life.

      One advantage often missed is the value of the aluminum can in the label decoration. The shine of the aluminum can be used to create a metallic appearance without special inks or foils. Fat Head’s Brewery saw the opportunity for a more dramatic shrink sleeve label design without the added expense of specialty materials, and the result was lustrous!

      The Solution

      Fat Head’s and MCC Label – Hammer Packaging partnered to identify the right ink and print technology combination to accentuate the areas of aluminum metallic show-through, while maintaining opaque areas for rich, eye-catching color.

      To achieve this effect on a clear shrink sleeve label, MCC’s prepress team varied the levels of white ink used to create the opaque canvas on the film. For vibrant colors on clear shrink films, a solid layer of white ink needs to be applied behind the layers of graphic ink. By varying or eliminating the white base layer, the graphic becomes more transparent thus showing higher levels of metallic sheen.

      Stephen Brown, MCC’s National Account Manager shares, “The artwork for all of Fat Head’s labels are outstanding, creating more equity in the marketplace for this entrepreneurial brand. We have a responsibility as a trusted partner to take their creativity and bring it to life using our expertise and state-of-the-art print technology.”

      MCC’s Variable Sleeve Web Offset Press (VSOP) proved to be the ideal press technology to recreate the sleeve graphics with the varying levels of flexo white ink and the precision of offset printing.

      “The ability to vary the level of white to make our designs more interesting, plus the ability to highlight areas of interest on the sleeves is awesome” shares Dave Beard, Fat Head’s Brewery. “I really don’t see others utilizing this special feature in the beer can space. I think it helps our sleeves stand out amongst others.”

      The Result

      The final product is an eye-catching aluminum can using the illusion of metallic color in specified areas, strategically paired with vibrant, solid colors. The brand comes to life through the creativity and teamwork of Fat Head’s Brewery and MCC’s prepress and technical teams.