Pelican cases, the best known hard shell case brand, are injection molded from plastic. They come in a variety of sizes, and have optional handles and/or corner casters. They are available either online or from an authorized Pelican Dealer such as Larson Packaging Company (LPC).
ATA cases are made of rigid panels and aluminum extrusions which are riveted together. ATA cases are custom built, and the most common form is the road case which opens like a trunk and is used by musicians.
Both types of cases provide excellent protection for transporting valuable or fragile equipment repetitively and can be used for more than 100 trips. This makes either case the lowest cost packaging on a cost-per-trip basis when compared to a corrugated box or crate. While the case will provide protection against exterior impacts, the internal protection for your equipment will come from standard or custom foam cushioning. The correct type, amount, and density of the foam should be specified, designed and fabricated by an expert.
Almost all applications that use a case as a packaging solution focus on protection and mobility: protecting the contents of the case, and moving it to the point of use. However, there are many other valuable features of a case that may be important to your specific application. ATA cases can meet all of these needs, whereas plastic hard shell cases may not. For example, see below:
Features of an ATA Case
An ATA case can be highly customized to meet your exact need in these different categories, whereas a Pelican will come with some features in a standard configuration. For example, if you want casters (wheels) on your case, Pelican may have an option to have corner casters which are 1" in diameter and made of hard plastic, whereas in an ATA case you can specify any off the shelf caster such as 6" rubber wheels with a foot brake or even custom casters.
The advantages of a Pelican case are that they are less expensive, readily available, and lighter. As a rule of thumb, a Pelican case should always be preferable over an ATA case when your equipment:
- Will fit in a Pelican case
- Weighs less than 40 lbs
- Is smaller than a microwave oven
- The primary packaging features that you need are protection, and mobility.
- Customization of the features of the case is not necessary
The advantages of an ATA case come from its ability to be customized to meet your needs in the following categories:
A packaging expert can help you understand and determine which of these categories are important to your unique needs.