When it comes to producing any sort of canned product it has become increasingly important to stand out. Whether that is unique label art, new packaging or different can sizes. We wanted to look further into the innovative technology that is sweeping the beer and cider industry. Digital can printing is the latest and greated when it comes to labeleing and Hart Print is at the forefront of this movement. We were able to pick the collective brain of their team to learn more about their products and their process.
From the outside, a digital printer that prints on cans is a lot like many home or office paper printers – but on steroids. It can receive multiple digital files and queue them as print jobs without stopping. On the inside, things are different (very different). Once cans are placed on cylindrical mandrels, they go through a diameter check and deionization (for dust removal). Next, they’re off through the colorful merry-go-round. The cans will stop at five color stations: white, black, yellow, magenta, and cyan. At each station, drops of ink are delivered with precision to the rotating can surface and go through a partial ultraviolet cure.
After the colors, the cans make a stop at a varnish station, where they will either receive a full coat of varnish for matte or gloss finish, or a partial varnish, so specific elements can receive a boost in shine and texture. Being able to run your ﬁngers across the surface of a can and feel it pop in all the right spots really adds to the experience.
Hart Print is a digital printing service on aluminum cans that puts the art into the heart of a printed can. We were the first globally to bring a technology that allows small-batch digital printing directly on aluminum cans (including in the neck of the can), as an alternative to plastic sleeves and sticker labels. Since most craft beverage companies don’t have the capacity for traditional offset printing, which has massive minimum quantity requirements, this has become a great option for them. It also allows them to be more sustainable, as Hart Print cans are infinitely recyclable.
Over the last decade, there has been a massive shift within the craft beverage industry, switching mainly from bottles to cans. However, the cans that were available for smaller runs (with stickers and plastic sleeves) were the challenge that sparked the idea for Hart Print. Our co-founder Stephanie Hart faced this situation as a partner in a Montreal microbrewery. But her idea only became a reality after she completed her MBA at John Molson School of Business, where she met her future co-founders Jean-Pierre and Alexander Anishi, who found the ideal technology to get the cans rolling. While this technology isn’t new, its application on cylindrical containers has only been introduced recently and is enabling Hart Print to personalize the beverage industry one can at a time.
Before the end of the year, Hart Print will have printed 100,000,000 cans since starting the venture and has a team of 100 Hart Printers working at the company.
There are many benefits!
In addition to printed cans, we offer full design services to encourage our customers to have fun with their brand. We call it hARTlab; our incredible in-house designers can create designs from A to Z, and our network of local artists to do cool collaborations.
We also provide a one-stop shop where our customers can spice up their orders with useful add-ons, such as lids, eco-trays and eco-rings, and save on transport and other fees!
The process is easy! Once an account is created on our website, you go through our TEST IT, LOVE IT and ORDER IT journey.
TEST IT: Customers upload their artwork (using our templates) directly to our website. Our design team ensures the file is properly prepared and optimized for digital printing. We understand that using a new technology can be tricky, so we take this time to guide them through our digital process.
LOVE IT: This is our approval process. A customer can receive a printed can, which takes up to 10 days to deliver, or fast track the process by getting PDF approvals, which takes up to 3 days to process.
ORDER IT: All approved artworks are stored in the customers’ online gallery, and can be used (or re-used) for production orders.
Throughout our customers’ journey with Hart Print, we want them to have a customized experience. To do so, we assign each of them a dedicated account manager who is available to help them during the process.
Other companies have started using the same technology to offer digitally printed cans, but they certainly don’t have our “secret sauce”. We’ve built our company on creativity and customer-centricity. While we strive for operational excellence, we place our customers at the heart of everything we do. For real.
At Hart Print, the can is the canvas, and art matters. With our design team and through hARTlab, we get to flex our creative muscles and support local art all at the same time. Art is a big part of our culture.
The best way to really experience how digital printing can enhance a can’s look is to visit us at hartprint.com and log in to our portal to start your own journey.