Metal Glossary

Common Terms Related to Metal Tins


Bail - A metal wire formed into a semi-circle to serve as a container handle. The ends fit into the ears on a general line can. Bails are common on lard and paint cans.

Bead (Inside or Internal) - A rounded depression around the surface of a container or end. The bead is used to stiffen or improve its appearance. The bead is also used to secure the collar on the can.

Bead Outside or External - As above except convex rather then concave.

Body - The sidewall of a container. The portion of a container to which the top and the bottom ends is attached by double seaming. The cylinder- shaped part of a can. Body can also refer to any shape.


Can Dimension - The dimensions of a container expressed in inches and 1/16 inches. Example 7 1/2" = 708 or 6 1/16" = 601

Chime - The expanded edge or rim of a barrel, pail, or drum

Closure - The joint or seal made in attaching the cover to a can; as in double seaming.

Coating, Litho - Refers to a pigmented coating used in lithographic decorations as a ground or base coast for printing inks.

Coating, Protective - A coating, pigmented or non-pigmented, used to provide a non-relative barrier between the can plate and product or atmosphere.

Coating, Tin - A thin layer of tin applied to sheet steel to form tinplate.

Compartment Can - A series of containers fabricated and assembled so the bottom end of one acts as a closure for the container below.

Composite Can - A can having a fiber body composed of a composite of paper with one or both ends made of metal. The label and liner can be aluminum foil or plastic.

Cone Top - A tapered shape top generally used on the general line cans. The cone top has the general shape of a frustum of a cone.

Convolute - A paper can body term indicating paper wrapped straight in plies. A laminated fiber container formed by winding material around a cylinder with material fed at right angles to the axis.

Corrosion - The deterioration of a metal by chemical or electrochemical reaction with its environment.

Cover - Loose end of an open top can, pail, or drum.

Curl - Area of tin turned in on itself to provide a safe, finished curved edge.


Distortion Printing - Printing technique used for making a drawn (seamless) tin in which artwork is intentionally distorted for printing on flat metal. As the seamless tin is drawn upward to form the container, artwork is transformed to its intended representation.

Dome - A type of cover characterizes by a flat horizontal surface (top) that tapers smoothly onto the skirt (vertical surface)

Double Seam - The attachment of an end to the can body by a method in which the thickness of the plate are interlocked or folded and pressed firmly together. A joint formed by interlocking the edges of both the end and body of a can. It is commonly produced in two operations. The first operation rolls forms the metal to produce the five thickness or folds. The second operation roll flattens these to produce the tight seams.

Drum, Closed Head - Refers to the drum type steel container, one gallon capacity or more, supplied with the top and bottom ends seamed to the body. Also called a tight-head drum.


Ears - Parts bumped or riveted to side of can into which a carrying bail is inserted.

End - The area of a tin also known as the bottom. Coffee-style hermetic tins generally have two ends. Ends can be attached by seaming them on or crimping.


F Style Can - A rectangular base general line can fitted with a screw cap re-closure. "F" style cans are made in several sizes for liquid measure. "F" style originated as a designation for the "Flit" style.

Fittings - Any part other then the ends necessary to complete the closure of a can. Fittings can be rings, plugs, screw necks or caps, and all sprouts.

Four-Color-Process - (4/c) the use of four colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black to produce an almost unlimited spectrum of colors. Artwork is separated to produce four printing plates, one color is printed on the flat metal at a time at differing screen angles to reproduce the original artwork.

Friction Top Can - A can with a removable cover consisting of a plug, which fits into a ring in top end of can. The cover depends on friction fit to retain its position. There are basically three types of friction to cans - full-friction, single- friction and multi-friction. Each gets its name from the number of pints of contact between the lid and the can opening.

Full Friction - A plug-style metal cap fits snugly to the interior of the can.


Hem - Similar to a curl, an area of tin turned in on itself to provide a safe, finished flatted edge.


Interior Friction - Cover/ closure option in which a pliable ring fits to the interior of a tin allowing for a straight-sided slender profile can.


Layout - A two-dimensional drawing depicting the exact specifications of a tin in its pre-fabricated (flat) state used for setting artwork up to fit the can.

Liner, Cap - A gasket material inserted into a screw cap, which serves to seal the closure against leakage of the container contents.

Lithography - A printing process, a branch of Planography, involving employment of stones or metal plates whose printing surfaces are partly water repellent and ink repellent. The process is especially adapted to fine half tine color effects or smooth ink solids.

Lock-seam - Sidewall meets and attach by hooking onto one another to form a tin body. Many decorative tins are fabricated in this manner because this particular seam style allows the printed area to meat at the seam.

Lug Pail Cover - A type of cover commonly used on open and 5 gallon steel pails. The pail cover is lined with puff type compound, which seats on the top rim of the pail. The seal is effected by compression of the cover to the pail. The seal is maintained by clinching the lugs, and integral part of the cover to the pail rim.


Matte Finish - An unmelted tin coating having a dull appearance.

Multiple Friction - A plug closure fits into a "well" of a seamed on ring. The plug is pressed into the ring and the two surfaces (the outside and inside edge) come into contact with the ring. Creating multiple sealing surfaces on the plug/ ring combination.


Nesting - Refers to the shape of a general line container where the top and bottom ends are rectangular in shape with rounded corners. Oblongs are also called "F" style cans.


Open Top Can - A classification of round hermetically sealed cans with welded side seams and compound lined double seams. Products packed in these containers are usually heat processed.


PMS - Use of the "Pantone Matching System" for spot colors that either can't be achieved through 4/c process or is more economical for producing one-, two- or three- color designs.

Pail - A flaring or tapered body metal container equipped with a bail or handle. A variety of top closures are used. Examples of pails can be found on the metal containers page.

Phenolic - (As in Hi-Bake phenolic lining) This is a synthetic phenolic resin baked on as a lining. It provides a non-reactive barrier between the metal plates and atmosphere or one or more of various types of paints or chemical products.

Pigment - (As in pigmented lining) This is inorganic material of various hues added to coatings on varnishes in order to color them.

Pre-Press - Preparation of artwork prior to printing; includes setting the artwork up in the proper layout, proofing, making films, and plates for printing.


Radius - Area on an off round tin where the metal bends to form a "curved corner"; on a cover it is the area where the top surface bends or tapers downward to for the skirt.


Seamless - A tin that is constructed from a single piece of tin drawn to form the body of the can.

Side Seam - The seam joining the two edges of a blank to form a body.

Single Friction - A plug-style metal cap fits snugly into a seamed on ring. The outside edge of the plug pressed against the interior edge of the ring. Creating one sealing surface.

Slip Cover - The removable cover in which the cover proper fits over and around the open end of can. The position is retained by friction fit.

Spiral Can - A laminated fiber container formed by winding material around a cylinder at an angle to its axis.

Spiral Winding - A diagonal wrapping or paper plies in continuous operation.

Stepped Cover - Type of slipcover in which a "step" is created between the horizontal surface and vertical surface of the cover so that stacking tins is possible with less likelihood of toppling over.

Straight Sided Can (or Pail) - A round can or pail that has the same top and bottom diameter; a straight body metal container, which must be stacked upon the top of another.


Tapered nesting pail - A flared or tapered body metal container formed with a nesting ring which allows one container to be stacked within another.

Tin Plate - A steel plate, can making quality black plate, to which a specified weight of pure tin is applied by an electrolytic or hot dip tinning process.


Varnish - Clear protective coating applied to the metal Varnish types include gloss, matte and stipple.


Welded Seam - Seam type in which sidewall attach to one another through the use of heat to form a tin body. The seam area cannot be printed as printing ink interferes with the strength of the welded area.

White Coat - Entire surface of the metal is coated with white before applying other printing ink colors.

White Print - Artwork that specifies metallic ink or plain tin in combination with opaque ink requires white prints "sparing out" the areas of plain tin or metallic ink to create a base for printing opaque inks

Chat with Us

Copyright © 2024 SKS Bottle & Packaging, Inc. All Rights Reserved