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Why do food cans have ridges on them?

Corrugation, the term used to describe the ridges found on food cans, plays a multifaceted role in enhancing the functionality and safety of these containers. Primarily, these corrugations serve to reinforce the structural integrity of the can, safeguarding it against potential cracks that may occur during various stages of processing.

The importance of these ribs extends beyond production. During transportation, when cans are subjected to bumps and drops, the corrugations act as a protective shield, ensuring that the can remains intact and its contents undamaged. Additionally, when cans are stored, these corrugations help maintain the can’s original shape, preventing any deformation that might compromise its functionality.

In terms of thermal resilience, corrugations provide a vital advantage. They enable the cans to safely expand and contract when exposed to temperature fluctuations, especially during transport or storage in varying climates. Without these corrugations, the can walls would be more susceptible to cracking under thermal stress. Such fissures might not be readily apparent but can pose a serious risk by allowing the entry of harmful bacteria into the can, increasing the potential for contamination and, in extreme cases, the development of botulism.

Corrugations also serve a practical purpose when it comes to the ease of accessing the contents of the can. By trapping a thin layer of air between the material and the can’s sides, these ridges facilitate the smooth release of the contents, making it simpler for consumers to empty the can without waste or difficulty.

Fun Fact: In 1810 in England, Peter Durand patented the use of tin-coated cans instead of glass. Almost 200 billion cans of food are produced in the world each year. The Hormel Company of Austin, Minnesota sold the first canned ham in 1926.