The development could help make a beverage maker's products stand out on an increasingly crowdedretails shelves.
"We're on the threshold of offering our customers the advantages of a breakthrough technology that enables new consumer marketing strategies by providing cost-effective short runs, tighter lead times, faster turnaround and targeted promotions with versioned messaging andpersonalisation," Crown stated in a press release.
The decision to advance the technology to a full-scale prototype follows a feasibility and testing phase ofa joint development programme between Crown and Jetrion, which manufactures flexible and formablecolour UV inkjet inks.
Over the past 12 months, Crown used used the technology to printing ultra high-resolution colour images on coated metal blanks using Jetrion'sinks. The printed blanks were then formed by traditional manufacturing processes into three-piece cans.
Crown then tested the cans for quality, durability and abrasion resistance, which the companysaid passed its standards.
"Our tests successfully demonstrated the readiness of this exciting new technology for the next move into a full-scale production prototype that will become the first commercial unit for UV digitalcolour inkjet printing of metal packaging," stated Daniel Abramowicz, president of Crown'spackaging technology unit.
Kenneth Stack, president of Jetrion said the prototype would provide a platform for continued research and developmentinto colour digital inkjet technology.
Jetrion's prototype for the test phase was a single-pass drop-on-demand (DOD) inkjet system that producedhigh quality full-colour images on a coated metal substrate.
The full-scale prototype capable of production speeds will be built by Jetrion in the US and delivered to a Crown manufacturing facility in 2007.