Steel has been a fixture in the packaging industry for over 200 years. When people think of the many uses of steel, they often think of industry. This includes oil, piping, and construction.

However, the beauty of steel is its versatility. So with its durability and portability, it’s no wonder major manufacturers took to it for packaging in the 19th century.

In the beginning, there was paint

Manufacturers and distributors in the 1800s were fascinated by steel packaging’s ability to preserve things indefinitely. Many products were canned in this time period as they were transported via ship over long distances – and for long periods.

This was primarily going on in Europe, but American industry didn’t take long to catch on. In 1877, Sherwin Williams patented his “ready to use paint”, a revolutionary and ingenious invention at the time.

He turned to steel cans as they could be resealable, and keep the paint fresh. This trend caught on like wildfire. The first beverage can in 1935 followed in the footsteps of steel packaging.

Zero competition

To this day, no packaging material can compete with steel. It prevents against the weathering effects of humidity, UV-light, and gases. Furthermore, it has become a staple in pressurized aerosol products (such as cleaners, hairspray, etc.)

What’s more, people fell for its appearance. Steel packaging is sleek, clean, and dynamic. It can be decorated with a paper label or directly printed on. Its glossy appearance makes it undoubtedly multi-faceted.

Many modern day manufacturers use methods like embossing and debossing, along with matte lacquers, to give steel packaging a more upscale finish.

Steel packaging’s understated appearance and unobtrusive nature makes it a great medium for brands to evoke emotion and experiment with their branding.

A promising future

Contemporary printing techniques only make the ability to stylize steel packaging more accessible. However, steel’s longevity in the packaging industry is not merely based on aesthetics.

As individuals become more environmentally conscious, they seek out more typically “green” packaging. What many people still overlook, however, is steel’s recyclability.

In Europe, over the last 10 years, steel packaging has been one of the most recycled materials. Americans also recycle 71% of steel cans. Educating more people about the ability to recycle steel cans (and how to tell them apart from aluminum) will keep its presence in the packaging industry alive.

Steel packaging manufacturers must continue to boast about their product’s reusability. As a result, they will surely keep its presence alive. With its unrivaled provision of better shelf life, there’s no doubt steel packaging speaks to every market – and every household in America.