Are you new to the beverage industry or just need a quick lesson on can and label sizes?
There are standard sizes for 12 oz and 16 oz aluminum cans. The canning industry refers to them in sizes that aren’t quite measured numbers. In American Canning’s line of Brite Cans for example, they offer a few sizes like a 211-12 oz and 211-16 oz. Of course the 12 / 16 oz refers to the volume and 211 refers to the diameter, but 211 isn’t in measured in millimeters; it actually is more of a reference than a measurement. The first digit is the number of inches and the next two numbers are the number of 1/16 fractions of an inch. So a 211 can has a diameter of 2 11/16 inches or 2.6875 inches.
Using my prior knowledge of geometry formulas that I learned in 7th grade (shout out to Mr. Kolosinski in Burlington WI with his πD story), circumference is equal to pi multiplied by diameter, so the total circumference of a “211” can is 2.6875 x 3.1416 or 8.443 inches.
In terms of label size, technically you could use labels that have a total width of anything up to 8.443 in, which is just a bit more than 8 7/16 inches. Overlap could be a concern and it just looks nicer to have a bit of a margin in there, so we tend to go with a 8.125 or 8 1/8 inch label.
The label height that you want is easier to measure on the can itself. For the 12 oz cans, our standard is a height of 3.625 inches (3 5/8 in). For the 16 oz cans, our standard is a height of 5 inches. In fact, the bulk of all of the labels that we produce for craft brewers and beverage customers are using the dimensions of 8.125 x 3.625″ for the 12 oz cans and the dimensions of 8.125 x 5″ for the 16 oz cans.
At the Lauterbach Group, we keep many sizes of dies (the tools that cut after a label is printed) in stock that can be used for bottle and can labels, but if you need a custom shaped or sized die, after customer approval, it only increases your overall turnaround time about a week.
**Update** Be aware that in this post-COVID day and age where it is getting harder and harder to find your standard aluminum cans, we have found (especially for the 16 oz pint aluminum cans) that they are not all the same! When the circumference is smaller, that means that the can will be taller in order to fit in the same volume, which then could also affect how the label looks on the can. Think more margin on the top and bottom of the can and a slightly smaller gap where the label meets. Take a look at this mocked up demonstration of a label for our awesome customer Raised Grain. The can on the left is 207-16 can vs. a standard 211-16 can on the right. The 8.125″ x 5″ label on the right is much more fitting. The can on the right used to be the standard size for a 16 oz can and now… well you get what you can find.