JFE Steel Corporation's “Universal Brite Type-F” film laminated steel sheet for DRD (draw-redraw) food cans has been awarded the 2005 Technology Prize by the Surface Finishing Society of Japan. JFE Steel was the first in the world to develop and market this type of laminated steel sheet, which features excellent content-release properties (for fish, meat, etc.) and formability, and is also more environment-friendly. Sales have grown steadily since its commercialization in 2003, primarily to major North American can manufacturers, which has led to the awarding of the prize.
The Technology Prize honors commercial products and technologies using innovative surface processing techniques. JFE Steel is the sole winner of the prize in the fiscal year ending March 2006. The company last won the award in the year ended March 2003 for its “environment-friendly, high-performance, chromate-free, chemically-treated steel sheet,” which became the standard in chrome-free steel sheets for electrical appliances.
Many industries are studying lamination as an environment-friendly technology. In steel cans, lamination enables the coating process to be omitted, which substantially reduces the CO2 emitted during manufacturing. The lack of coatings and organic solvents further reduces the environmental load on the workplace and surrounding community and also solves odor problems. Lamination technology was developed with the EU's strict environmental standards in mind and uses absolutely no endocrine disruptive substances (for example, BADGE).
JFE Steel first began commercial production of “Universal Brite Type-F” in 2003 for salmon cans produced by major North American can manufacturers. The material is environment-friendly and also features: 1) easy release of fish, meat and other content thanks to improvements in the PET film surface layer, and 2) beautiful exterior finishing with the addition of proprietary pigments. These merits have won “Universal Brite Type-F” a number of orders for salmon cans, one of the high-demand items in the U.S. luxury food market. JFE Steel expects to export over 20,000 tons of the material during the fiscal year to March 2006, primarily to large can manufacturers in North America.
The company also expects the material to find wider application in North America and other markets for cans for fish, meat, vegetables and other foods. Many food processing companies are already conducting filling tests with prototype cans, leading to expectations of further demand.