The Step-by-Step Process of Manufacturing Aluminum Collapsible Tubes

The Step-by-Step Process of Manufacturing Aluminum Collapsible Tubes

Aluminum collapsible tubes are everywhere – from your morning toothpaste to the creams in your medicine cabinet. But have you ever wondered how these handy tubes are made? It’s a fascinating process that transforms raw aluminum into the flexible containers we know and love.

In this article, we’ll walk through the aluminum collapsible tube manufacturing process step-by-step. You’ll learn all about the raw materials, specialized machinery, and quality checks needed to produce billions of collapsible tubes each year. So squeeze out that last bit of toothpaste and let’s get squeezing!

What Are Aluminum Collapsible Tubes?

Collapsible aluminum tubes revolutionized packaging with their ability to dispense viscous liquids and pastes while preventing contamination. They are made of aluminum slugs, shaped into tubes by an extrusion process, and then coated and sealed.

The key benefit of collapsible tubes is that they retain product freshness since no extra air enters as the tube empties. The tight seal also enables traveling without spills or messes. Aluminum itself provides excellent barrier properties against oxygen, light, and bacteria – perfect for the pharma and cosmetics industry.

No wonder aluminum tubes are ubiquitous around the world today!

Key Raw Materials

Only two key raw materials go into making an aluminum tube – aluminum itself and lacquers/coatings to protect the product inside.

Aluminum is used as slugs or billets with 99.7% purity to meet high quality foundationally. It provides properties like strength, corrosion resistance, and impermeability that make it an ideal collapsible tube material.

aluminum slug of Aluminum collapsible tubes with open orifice
aluminum slug of Aluminum collapsible tubes with an open orifice


aluminum slug of Aluminum collapsible tubes with sealed orifice
aluminum slug of Aluminum collapsible tubes with sealed orifice

Lacquers and Coatings of aluminum collapsible tubes

The tube also needs lacquers and coatings for product compatibility and shelf life. Epoxy phenolic resins and polyesters are common. They safeguard products from interacting with the aluminum tube walls.

transparent epoxy phenolic resin of aluminum collapsible tubes
transparent epoxy phenolic resin
epoxy phenolic lacquer of aluminum collapsible tubes
epoxy phenolic lacquer in golden color
epoxy phenolic coating in beige
epoxy phenolic coating in beige

That’s all that’s needed material-wise. But producing a tube requires some complex processing of these raw materials, which we’ll cover next.


Key Steps in the Manufacturing Process

Converting aluminum slugs into collapsible tubes involves eleven key steps spanning extrusion, coating, printing, capping, and latex spraying with strict quality checks along the way.


Extrusion Process of aluminum collapsible tubes

The process starts with lubricant coating over aluminum slugs. Lubrication aids the flow of metal in subsequent steps.

The lubricated aluminum then goes through impact extrusion, where a hydraulic press pushes a punch onto the slug with great force, shaping it into a tube. The fast-pressing action traps the lubricant within the tube walls.

After tube forming, a cutting operation trims the tubes to ordered lengths and also creates nozzle threads.


Post-Extrusion Processing

The trimmed tubes next undergo annealing, where controlled heating softens the tubes, imparting flexibility. Slow cooling prevents hardness.

With tubes now collapsible, the next step is inner lacquer coating. The epoxy or resin-based lacquers protect products from interacting with aluminum.

An external base coat primarily provides a consistent background for printing but also improves chemical resistance.


Printing and Sealing

With a perfect base achieved, tubes move to print, where inks and methods like screen printing or offset printing add colors, branding, ingredients, etc.

The collapsible tubes then go through torque-controlled capping to affix the closure. Applying the right torque ensures a tight seal without tube damage.

Finally, the manufacturer seals the nozzle with a small drop of adhesive to prevent product leakage during shipping or use.


Quality Inspection and Packaging

Before packaging, aluminum tubes undergo strict quality checks including leak tests, dimension verifications, and print evaluations. This ensures all tubes leaving the facility are defect-free.

They then get securely packaged to retain perfect condition en route to the product filler and, ultimately, your home!


We’ve squeezed our way through the incredible aluminum collapsible tube manufacturing process! What was once an indistinguishable slug gets carefully transformed into a precisely engineered container ready to encase anything from hair gel to pharmaceutical ointments.

It’s astonishing what a little aluminum and lubricant can become with the right machinery and processing. The next time you squeeze out your favorite product, remember the intensive eleven-step extruding, coating, printing, and sealing production behind the flexible tube