There is something about printing beverage cans that intrigues me. The fluidity of Forest Surfaces 14, my large can piece(on the left) contrasts with the rigidity of the can surface. Once the cans are printed, cut and woven together with waxed linen, they no longer resemble the can, but an interesting assemblage of pattern.
My process changes from time to time as I figure ways to improve my approach to this surface. When printing around 200 beverage cans at a time, the process from start to finish --precoat, print, top coat---takes about 5 days. Plus you have to be absolutely, positively 100% sure no to damage your printer in any way during the printing process.
While working through my ideas I ended up printing using my 4800 and setting up a carrier sheet to print 8 cans at a time. Instead of using double sided tape, I chose to use ½” masking tape that will tape to can sides, next to each other. This way none of the edges can lift and problems are at a minimum.
Once the cans are printed, instead of removing them one by one, the cans are lifted together with their tape in tact. Well once in awhile it tears, but for the most part, as I run my hand under the cans to lift the tape from the page, the cans come off as one piece. You can then let the ink dry for a couple of days, paint the top coat over all the cans together and cut them apart once the top coat dries.
You need to cut the edges of the cans anyway, since the tape blocks the edges of the can from printing. This way, you will do it all at one time after the top coat and save the step to take the cans apart in an earlier stage. May not seem like a lot, but with 100’s of cans it makes a difference.
These can pieces are part of a new project. I have been printing surfaces for an art book assemblage for the last 3 days. Amate bark paper, velum, tyvec, 2 thicknesses of lutradur and beverage cans. Not sure where it is going yet, but my I always start printing as I consider the assemblage of the surfaces.
As I work on this new project, I am assembling other cans to finish a piece started a few months ago. Next week I will have a new youtube video about digitally printing cans and where they end up.