Tubes are a common form of packaging and are familiar to most people. The
application that is probably most familiar is the ordinary toothpaste tube; however, there are
many other products that are commonly packaged in tubes, such as paints, lubricants,
adhesives, cosmetics, medications, and food products.
In this unit, we will discuss how tubes
were invented, common materials used for tubes and their characteristics, and how tubes are
12.1 Invention of the Tube
The tube was invented in 1841 by John Rand, a New Hampshire portrait artist who was
working and studying in London. Rand was concerned about the amount of time that he spent
mixing paint instead of actually painting, because painting was how he earned his living.
had to prepare their own paints because commercial products had not been developed yet.
Rand usually had to discard the leftover paints after each day of work because they would dry
out and be unusable next time he worked.
Rand used thin sheets of lead to make his packages. He prepared a quantity of a
particular color and placed it on a sheet of lead.
Then, he “rolled up” the lead sheet and folded
over the ends, crimping as necessary, to seal the paint inside the package that was formed.
When he needed a particular color of paint, he simply opened a corner of the appropriate
package and squeezed a small amount onto his palette and then squeezed the corner shut to
reseal the package. In this way, the paint remained usable until needed and the painter saved
valuable time. He also used less of the expensive pigments and other paint constituents.
12.2 Metal (Collapsible) Tubes
Today, many tubes are made of metal, but they are a minority of the overall tube
market. Aluminum and tin are the two most common metals used for tubes.
Aluminum is the most common metal used for making tubes. Aluminum tubes are used
for a wide range of common products, including foods, cosmetics, toothpaste, adhesives, and
pharmaceutical products. Aluminum tubes have a clean modern look and feel, and are easy to
print on. By contrast, tubes made of other metals are usually labeled with spot labels made of
plastic or paper.
Aluminum tubes are available in a wide