Tin Can Packaging

Packaging is widely used across manufacturing industries, with various products requiring different types of packaging. One of the packaging, tin cans is a special type of packaging. However, they have many classifications too. Today, we’ll explore these different classifications of tin cans. Please follow this article to learn more.

What is tin can?

Tin cans are containers made from tinplate (tin-coated steel), tin-free steel, or aluminum. They come in two main types: soldered cans and welded cans. They are primarily used for packaging or storing food, cosmetics, stationery, and other items. Soldered cans are typically opened by cutting the top, while regular tin cans usually have lids for opening.

Tin Can Based on Materia


Tinplate, as SPTE,  is steel coated with tin on both sides. It’s a type of thin, low-carbon steel sheet that’s rust-resistant, corrosion-resistant, and non-toxic. It’s primarily used for making metal packaging. In 1800, the British invented tin cans for long-term food preservation, and in 1847, Americans invented can-making machines, leading to an expanding demand for tinplate. Currently, over a third of the world’s tin production is used to manufacture tinplate.

-Zinc tinplate  

Zinc tinplate, or snowflake tinplate, is usually thicker, mainly around 0.3mm. It features a surface pattern resembling snowflakes and has lower ductility. It’s commonly used for water buckets and abroad for storing beer ice buckets, among other uses. It boasts strong corrosion resistance and doesn’t easily rust, even when stored for extended periods in damp environments.


Silver glow tinplate, also known as frosted tin, involves adding a frosted process to regular tinplate. It comes in various textures—fine, medium, and coarse—depending on the size of the surface particles. Each pattern differs slightly, and frosted tin tends to have fewer specifications and thickness than regular tinplate, making it more expensive. The surface particles on frosted tin enhance the product’s texture, making it suitable for designs without printing or with large Pantone colors, highlighting the material’s granular surface.


-black iron

Chrome-plated tinplate also has an iron texture on its surface, appearing darker than tinplate, known as black tin. It usually ranges in hardness from T3 to T4 and is primarily used for making round cans. Its advantage lies in its high oxidation resistance, making it less prone to scratches and rust. It’s relatively affordable, making it a suitable choice for those concerned about pricing and less particular about color requirements for tin cans.

mirror tinplate 

Mirror tinplate, also known as high-gloss tinplate or B-side tinplate, lives up to its name with a high shine, resembling a mirror that reflects people and objects clearly. Its surface lacks any patterns. However, mirror iron has limited applications due to its higher tin content, and slightly better ductility, but poorer printing and processing properties. It’s prone to “tin burn” during production, making it susceptible to scratches on the mirrored surface. With an expensive unit price, this material is less commonly used.




Aluminum tin cans boast strong corrosion resistance. Aluminum forms a thin layer of aluminum oxide in the air, effectively preventing further corrosion. At room temperature, aluminum tin cans can store and transport various chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics, and more for short periods. However, aluminum is less suitable for printing. In storage and transportation, aluminum cans offer advantages such as lightweight, low cost, ease of use, and good sealing, making them widely used across various industries.


Tin Can Based on Application

Food and Beverage Industry

Welded tinplate cans are used in the food industry mainly for items such as powdered milk, coffee, chocolate, various beverage cans, and beer cans.


-Personal Care and Cosmetics

Tinplate general cans are used in cosmetics for items like lipstick cases, eyeshadow cases, cosmetic gift sets, cosmetic sets, and cosmetic toolboxes.


-Confectionery and Gourmet Foods:

Tinplate cans are more and more used to package various candies, nuts, coffee, tea, lunch boxes, biscuit tins, cookie tins, chocolate tins, and various spice tins.


Tinplate cans are used for stationery, USB drives, tools, wine, and alcoholic packaging.


Tin Can based on structure

-Welded Side Seam Tin

Powdered milk cans, oil cans, and beverage cans require high-level sealing. Typically, they’re ring-pull cans or welded tin cans, crafted by deep drawing or welding processes, ensuring excellent sealing.


Seamless Tin

Seamless cans usually refer to cans where the bottom is directly formed by stretching the tinplate, made up of the lid and the base.


-Standard Tin


Regular tinplate cans, also known as general miscellaneous cans, have their bodies connected using a stamping and clinching process, leading to relatively poor sealing. Moreover, when liquid or powder is directly filled, leakage might occur, and over time, the powder might get damp and spoil.


-Three-piece cans

A three-piece can consist of three parts: the lid, body, and bottom. Usually, the body is made up of clinched close, while the bottom can be a Cinched bottom or Sealed bottom.

-A Two-piece can

Two-piece can: only with a lid and a bottom. The bottom is formed through stretching, a shaping method suitable for simple cylindrical or square containers.


-Classification by shape


Tin cans can also be categorized by shape: round tin cans, square tin cans, rectangular tin cans, triangular tin cans, hexagonal cans, octagonal cans, star-shaped cans, and irregular-shaped cans.

Tin can-based Printing

Glossy Varnish: It maintains good color retention, enhances the vibrancy of printed tones, and offers a smooth and glossy finish, providing a round and lustrous appearance.

Matte Varnish: In contrast to glossy varnish, it dulls the surface of the tinplate, creating a subdued, classical, and elegant decorative design with a sense of depth.


CMYK printing

Four-color Printing Tinplate Box, also known as CMYK printing, is created by combining four colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. These colours can generate thousands of different vibrant and exquisite designs, offering a wide range of beautiful and colourful options in printing.


-Pantone color printing

Pantone color printing refers to using a single color, like specific red or blue. In this method, the printing factory matches the color based on a color sample or Pantone no. provided by the customer. No need for design artwork printing, as they directly reproduce colors the provided sample.



Whitecoat printing over the entire sheet of tinplate, adding a layer of white as a base. Tinplate printed with a white coat doesn’t retain its original silver color; instead, it allows for the printing of other designs on top of the white base.

-White colour printing

Printing white typically involves preserving partial metallic color lustre in different printing forms. A layer of white is printed first in areas where the metallic color isn’t needed, enhancing the vibrancy of subsequent colors.


-Robber oil printing

This type of printing effect is relatively costly. Using rubber oil results in a soft texture on the surface, feeling similar to touching matte leather!

-Explore oil printing

Explosion oil creates an irregular explosive pattern on the surface of the tin box, which seems to have a cracked texture. When touched, it feels slightly uneven. After printing, the surface is less prone to rusting. Light reflection enhances the exquisite printed patterns, giving a three-dimensional effect, making it highly decorative. However, printing with this technique tends to be more expensive.


-Pearl oil printing

Pearl oil is typically printed on the surface of the tin box after four-color or Pantone color printing, creating a coarse-grained texture that can be felt by hand, with distinct grainy particles.


-laser  printing

Laser printing is a reflective film printed on the tin surface after the original design. The design is usually simple, focusing on Pantone colours or simple patterns. After printing, it reflects varied light effects, giving the tin box packaging a unique standout appearance that catches the customer’s attention. However, this printing effect might have quantity restrictions and tends to be expensive.


Above is a brief introduction to various common classifications of tin boxes shared by Yi Cheng, a manufacturer of tin boxes. Our official website showcases many other types of products. If you need customized tin boxes or cans, feel free to contact us anytime.

More Resources

The Ultimate Guide for Cookie Tins —Cookie Tins

Design and Manufacturing of Metal Box Containers: A Comprehensive Guide—Metal Box Containers

Designing a Stunning Metal Candy Box: The Ultimate Guide —Metal Candy Box

Elevate Your Biscuit Packaging: Design and Manufacturing Insights  —Biscuit Packaging


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