Electrolytic tinplate (ETP), also known as tinplate or TMBP (tin mill black plate), is widely used in food packaging and the manufacture of various tools due to its substrate’s suitable strength, excellent weldability, and stamped surface coating with good corrosion resistance. It is also easy to coat and print on.

ETP has a production history of more than 70 years, which developed based on hot-dip tinplate. The world’s tinplate production lines and total output are basically stable, but developing countries have successively established or are building tinplate units, with China’s development being particularly significant. In terms of varieties, secondary cold-rolled tinplate and tin-free steel (TFS) have been well developed, and Japan’s laminated TFS (with a layer of plastic film on the surface) has developed rapidly in recent years. The production and consumption of tinplate in developing countries are increasing rapidly, while developed countries are characterized by the development of new tank types, exquisite printing, and environmental protection.

China’s tinplate development started relatively late, mainly relying on imports for a long time, with self-sufficiency rate below 50%. In the 1990s, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong built factories on the mainland one after another, greatly increasing the tinplate production capacity. In particular, the commissioning of two tinplate production lines by Baosteel in 1998 increased China’s self-sufficiency rate of tinplate to around 70%, and high-difficulty products such as K-plates and DI materials were also produced domestically, changing the long-term dependence on imports of K-plates (high-corrosion-resistant tinplate applied in fruit cans in a raw iron state) and allowing Baosteel to enter the ranks of few steel mills in the world capable of producing DI materials (tinplate for two-piece beverage cans).

Tinplate in Food Packaging and Industrial Manufacturing

Metal packaging has gone through more than 20 years of development in China’s reform and opening up, and has now formed a complete metal packaging industry system, including printing iron, can making (two-piece cans, three-piece cans), aerosol cans, various bottle caps, steel drums, and so on. It has become an important category in China’s packaging industry.

With the rapid development of China’s economy, the total consumption of tinplate required for metal packaging is increasing at a rate of about 10% per year. It can be expected that the demand for tinplate in China will still develop at a relatively high speed in the coming years.