Local entrepreneur Joe Stasiuk recently had his invention called ‘Mettletab’ purchased by Ball Corporation, the largest manufacturer of specialty beverage cans in North America.
Mettletab allows beverage can tabs and ends to carry customized messaging or graphics.
The laser-incised tab is a solid, coloured tab that provides a small ‘billboard’ space for brand identity, advertising or promotional messaging.
The idea for the invention came innocently enough.
‘I was sitting in a bar in the US and looking at something printed on the underside of a bottle cap,’ he said. ‘I thought, ‘why can’t something that does the same thing be made for a can’.’
Initially, Mr. Stasiuk envisioned tabs shaped like various objects like sports balls, which is something that still might happen.
But it was when he thought about how to decorate those tabs that he really hit upon a good idea.
Mr. Stasiuk developed a way of laser engraving the paint off of coloured tabs.
‘I was familiar with lasers because I had been exposed to them in my college days at Princeton,’ he said.
After forming a company called CanDO International Limited, Mr. Stasiuk was granted US patents on both the Mettletab product and its method of production.
The process produces ultra-fine detail of graphic images, logos, and other advertising methods.
The tabs could be used for a variety of promotions like instant win or collect-and-win contests.
‘Laser-incised tabs provide our customers with brand identification at the moment of consumption,’ said Bob Tettero, director of marketing at Ball Corporation.
‘Beverage cans are increasingly used in growing, upscale categories such as energy drinks, wine and wellness beverages, where product differentiation and image are key concerns,’ said Mr. Tettero. ‘Because they convey unique messaging in a distinctive and polished way, laser-incised tabs are a perfect fit for categories like these.’
Ball bought the exclusive rights to manufacture the laser-incised tabs for the North American market. Mr. Stasiuk said he is now trying to find a purchaser for the Asian aluminium can market, which is growing rapidly, he said.
Success with the invention has not happened overnight, however.
‘It’s taken more than eight years to complete this deal,’ Mr. Stasiuk said. ‘It had been to the table with Ball twice before we got it done this time.’
Mr. Stasiuk said the tabs appeared on a local beer in a market test a couple of years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia, and it helped increased sales.
Still, it was not until the multitude of high energy drinks became popular that Mettletab really attracted interest, Mr. Stasiuk said.
The deal with Ball will bring Mr. Stasiuk, a holder of Caymanian Status, a royalty payment for every 1,000 tabs produced.
Although Mr. Stasiuk would not specify the amount of the royalty, he said Ball makes 30 billion aluminium cans every year.
Even if a moderate share of those cans use Mettletab, Mr. Stasiuk stands to make significant money with his contract with Ball.
‘This was the deal of my life,’ he said.
Ball has outfitted its manufacturing operation in Bristol, Virginia with the necessary laser apparatus, Mr. Stasiuk said.
Energy drink cans will likely carry the first Mettletabs to reach the Cayman Islands market, he said.
‘If all goes well, you should see them here by Christmas, maybe sooner,’ he said.