uShape: Reshaping the Aluminium Bottle

Award-winning Canadian firm rolls out aluminium bottles with distinctive appeal.
16 August, 2017
In what's believed to be a first for the packaging industry, Montebello Packaging in Ontario has unveiled a new product that's been years in the R&D making.
It's an eco-friendly aluminium bottle that comes in standard volume sizes, but can be manufactured in unique and asymmetrical shapes. The new bottles promise to give beverage companies a chance to show off their brands with consumer benefits too.

Montebello isn't saying exactly how they do it, because the new process is a proprietary innovation – and it's so new that the first bottles will make the scene in Q4 2017. What they will say is that the uShape bottles are named that way because companies and customers can decide what they want. The bottles can take various shapes, with fine details and fluting, and a surface that supports artwork.
The uShape bottles can be embossed or debossed, and deliver high-quality graphics in nine colors using a dry-offset process. Finishes, according to sales director Kathy Mercer, can be in matte or gloss, or customers can choose metallic or specialty inks, all on a wide assortment of base coating options. Those coats are available in white, grey, silver glitter, brushed or clear, according to Montebello's website.

"I can't speak too much about the machine itself other than it is the only one of its kind and it has sufficient throughput to accommodate small to large orders," Mercer said in a recent interview. But the process relies on technology similar to that of blow-molding plastics, just with aluminium bottle forms.
The uShape bottles are designed for single-serve beverages that include beer, ready to drink coffees, energy drinks and other products. Regardless of their shape, they currently come on a standard one-base diameter and standard 250 ml and 500 ml sizes, so they're accessible to nearly all businesses. Whatever goes in them – from water to wine – the closure is a standard 0.28 mm resealable ROPP cap.

The company says specialty sizes may be available upon request, but within 160 to 205 mm height ranges and with widths between 47 and 56 mm. Other limits include a maximum of 40 percent alcohol content, a top filling temperature of 60C, and a 90-psi cap on internal pressure when exposed at 50C.

They can be bought in minimum orders of 30,000 as the company launches uShape, but Montebello hopes to scale up to 50 million bottles in 2018. They're also hoping the smart aluminium choice is a benefit to the environment, and banking on popularity among sustainability-minded consumers.
The aluminium promises to be an even bigger benefit to beverage companies, and not just because the earth-friendly aluminium is affordable and recyclable or because of the visual appeal on shelf space. The aluminium chills faster and stays cold longer than other packaging, and it blocks 100 percent of UV light. That works to keep content tasting fresh for longer; so does the absence of oxygen in the airtight bottle.

The uShape aluminium bottles are about 15 times lighter than glass, the company says, so there's a real cost savings in both the materials to make them and the expense of shipping them – along with the carbon footprint benefits of lightweighting the products and shipping more in the same run. The bottles don't break either, which proves attractive to both the companies making them and their end users.

Most of all, uShape is an exciting new look for specialty product lines or for defining a whole new brand.