Can terminology

Archaeology of Pull Tabs

Beverage cans explained

This page is a work in progress: the more I learn, the more you know.

Basic can parts

A typical (2019 type) beverage can consists of two parts which come to a bottling company empty and separately: the can body and the can end.

Can bodies are usually made from one piece of aluminium or steel which is ‘drawn’ into a cup and then punched and and ‘ironed’ into a basic can body shape. Then the can body is ‘necked’, which means that the top part is crimped to a smaller diameter.

Can ends – long ago also called ‘tops’ are always made from aluminium (at least in beverage cans) and pressed from a slightly tougher and thicker blend of aluminium than the cans. The pull tabs on the can ends are pressed on them separately.

Although all beverage cans are now 2-piece cans (body and end) this was not always the case. Originally, we a re talking 1930s, beer cans were 3-piece cans, with a top (end) a bottom and a rolled and soldered or welded cylinder. A great video on the production of cans can be found here:

Great video on can production by Bill Hammack (