Beer cans & lasers – what?: Cajo Technologies utilizes unique laser engraving for Sangen brewery
Cajo Technologies utilizes unique laser engraving for Sangen brewery
What do you get when you put together a cleantech expert with an interest for craft beer and an engineer with a laser engraving company? Why, you get an innovation unique on a global scale, of course. “We were experimenting on engraving some brewery equipment, when I thought ‘Could we do the actual cans with this thing?’ So we tried things out and it worked perfectly,” explains Chairman of the Board Mikko Ahokas from Sangen, a regional brewery, distillery and laboratory currently finalizing its first investment round. Sangen is a perfect example of the recent onslaught of new technologies meeting old industries: using lens laser engraving for a beer can is more efficient, ecological and cost-effective than the traditional chemical labelling methods.
The company that enables such engraving is Cajo Technologies from Kempele, who in their short existence have already secured established clients such as Fiskars, the renowned Finnish tool design giant, and Halton Marine, the ventilations solution manufacturer and part of the global Halton Group. “Our business is selling our patented, quite unique laser engraving and marking devices, and that’s what we’re doing with Sangen,” says CEO Niko Karsikas of Cajo Technologies.
In a dark room, Karsikas inserts a small metal plate into a metal cupboard and closes the door. We are looking at the stand-alone model of their laser engraver, and in a few seconds the metal plate has turned into a stylish calling card, with detailed QR code and text without any pixelation or rough edges. Although their main target segments are metal manufacturers and developers, cable industry, brands and medical device manufacturers, it is not far-fetched to think about consumer devices in the future.
“We actually have thought about a mobile unit, which could then be used in a garage or a place like that, but we’re not seriously going there yet,” he smiles. At the largest they can do a metal sheet of 4 square metres – or practically any other material, to be honest. For Sangen, with its close-to-home ethics of regional ingredients and technologies, the system is a perfect match. “It probably won’t scale to actual mass manufacturing, but we don’t aim there,” Ahokas says, explaining that they are going to scale to “just” five million litres by 2020 in the Tornio brewery, preparing for production by the end of the year.
The future seems bright enough for both companies: Cajo has amassed the previous year’s revenue in 2016 Q1 and just recently opened an office in the USA, and Sangen’s investment round is already a success, with weeks to go. Even though both companies will go their own ways, the collaboration has already spawned talks of further ideas. One such idea would be uniquely customized products from Sangen, designed with Cajo’s online cloud service. “Imagine ordering a six-pack in a unique can for a friend’s birthday – easily designed and ordered, and delivered in a matter of days anywhere in the world,” Ahokas muses.
Sangen’s beer will be available to the public for the first time at the Qstock rock festival in Oulu this summer. “I’m sure we will receive a lot of good publicity and experience from the festival,” Ahokas says.
Mikko Ahokas, Chairman of the Board