Are Wood ATA Road Cases a Dying Breed?


The one thing that nobody can argue with is a product that passes the rigorous test of time. For 10,000 years, wood has been successfully used to manufacture shipping cases. Despite the fact that wood is heavy, brittle, not weather resistant, and is a delicacy to some insects, it does offer some benefits. On the plus side, wood is plentiful, inexpensive, and easy to cut and shape. The obvious question is, after 10,000 years, is wood is still the best shipping case construction option? arti mimpi

The short answer to this is a resounding “no”. Recent advancements in billboard and sign industry panels have quickly spilled over into the world of fabricated ATA cases (also known as ‘flight cases”). These newer generation composite panels are lighter and stronger than wood, and mass production keeps the cost relatively low. These panels are also now made in thicknesses that match commercially available extrusions and ATA hardware.

One the surface, one might think that wood still holds and advantage because the initial case cost is less when plywood panels are used as compared to the commensurate composite panels. In fact, a buyer may expect to pay 10-15% less for an all plywood case. A closer examination reveals that cases, like automobiles, have a life cycle cost that far exceeds the initial cost.Since composite panel construction is lighter than wood, substantial shipping cost savings can be attained by having a lighter overall package. This is especially true in today’s shipping environment, which is teeming with weight overage and fuel surcharges.