For a long time the industry thought it wasn’t possible. “But we developed the 7-colour fully automatic printing machine ourselves – investing €1.3 million – with partners from the printing machine construction industry and colour specialists”, says Peter Schult, head of Beverage Industry business unit, at the Rastal company.
The production volumes at Rastal range from a few individual hand-painted glasses to series of several 100,000 items for the global players of the brewery and beverage industry. More than 120 million glasses leave the factory every year. Each batch is unique in terms of quality, design and processing, making quality control vitally important. A series of tests are carried out on the glasses in the company’s own laboratory. A voltmeter identifies weak points; abrasion tests are standard for the colours. “On average, a glass has to withstand several hundred washes”, explains Peter Schult. The measure of all things here is the industrial washing machine. Household washing machines can also destroy colours if the washing powder is too aggressive, even on a glass washing cycle.
“A good glass must fulfil a number of characteristics. It should be as safe a product as possible, be neutral in terms of taste, come in a large range of shapes and colours and be completely watertight”, says expert Peter Schult. “Finding something that works then quickly becomes an important marketing decision”, she adds. At Rastal, work is done on the division principle, oriented to the market structure. ‘The Glass and more’ is the strategy of the company from Höhr-Grenzhausen.
Designing the look, feel and colour of and on the glass to the highest standard often means using more than classic silk-screen or pad printing techniques. Many years back Rastal took the decision to completely outsource the glassproduction. Thus nowadays more than 70 glasshouses worldwide produce partially also exclusively for Rastal – in some cases exclusively – to ISO standards.
Everything from the composition of the glass to the manufacturing method can be configured from the outset to optimum effect. Folded, pressed glasses, hand-blown glasses, goblets, tumblers, pint glasses or promotion items such as lanterns – everything is possible. The templates for printing usually are also provided by Rastal depending on customer requirements.
The first producers at a global level to focus more on the overall experience than consumption were spirit manufacturers. Tumblers for Ramazzotti Germany, Bacardi, Jim Beam, Absolut Vodka, Linie Aquavit, Campari and many others are not just used for advertising in Germany, but are increasingly being used in producers’ home markets. But why has the trend towards brand exclusives and event drinking glasses started in Germany?
Hardly a surprise in fact – drinking glasses for events are a long-standing Germany tradition. It can be no coincidence that the origins of the Rastal company with the grandfather of today’s trends always play an important role in glass production for the beverage industry, and technical demands are continually changing. The shape of glass is harking back to the multifunctional, simple, smooth glass of the past, meaning the demand for tumbler designs is increasing.
The high stems of goblets are more often left out – in particular in the “New Generation”. The glass is more likely to have a strengthened ice bottom, such as in the Warsteiner Premium Cup. Social trends are also reflected in the patterns. Mixed drinks are given soft lines and relaxing designs.