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How It’s Made: The UBB x Klean Kanteen Steel Pint Tumbler

Just a few short years ago, we tasked ourselves with making our company-organized cleanups even cleaner — starting with an eco-friendly way to keep our volunteers hydrated. Since we didn’t want to hand out plastic water bottles or serve up plastic red cups, we worked with our friends (and fellow B Corp) Klean Kanteen to develop cleanup crew–approved reusable steel pints. (And we liked our collaboration cups so much that we made ‘em in other designs, too.)

We recently hopped across the country to visit the Klean Kanteen team at their Chico, California headquarters, and we were surprised to learn our humble pint passes through multiple machines, tests, and hands before it’s ready for use. Luckily, the Klean Kanteen crew has it all down to a science — and they walked us through each step of their steel pint silkscreening process.


Step 1: It All Starts With the Ink

The Klean Kanteen team mixes their green-friendly, UV curable ink, using a base of 13 colors to match to almost any Pantone. Each batch of United By Blue’s signature navy is carefully blended using a formula and a scale.


Step 2: Setting Up the Silkscreen

The freshly mixed ink is used to laser print UBB’s custom design onto a vellum, and then the artwork is transferred onto a silkscreen.


Step 3: The Pints Are Primed for Printing

In order to ensure the silkscreen sticks, each pint undergoes a flame cure, which ups the dyne level (a surface tension indicator). This makes the steel sticky enough to be printed on.


Step 4: The Screen Print Sign Off

Each primed pint gets screen printed with UBB’s artwork, then a Klean Kanteen team member inspects every cup to ensure the bottom and wraparound graphics are perfectly in line.


Step 5: Locking the Ink in Place

Every properly printed pint undergoes a UV cure, or a blast of UV light that dries and hardens the ink. (If you’ve ever received a gel manicure, this step may sound familiar.)


Step 6: Fill ‘Er Up!

Each silkscreened steel pint is ready for use (and reuse) — we personally love it for campsite brews and iced coffee at the office.


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