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ATA Shipping Cases 101

For what applications are shipping cases used?
Cases By Source offers a wide range of stock and custom ATA-Rated shipping cases and equipment cases for computers, laptops, monitors (both flat panel and CRT), plasma or LCD screens, printers, electronic instruments, medical devices, and more.

What does it mean for a shipping case to be ATA-Rated?

All Cases By Source shipping cases are Air Transport Association rated which means they are ATA approved and suitable for shipment on the airlines. Many styles are classified as ATA 300, Category 1—the highest standard for an airline transport container.

The ATA specifications are guidelines established by the Air Transport Association to establish criteria for rating the airworthiness and level of shipping strength of various types of shipping containers or cases.

ATA-Rated cases are subjected to the Air Transport Association specification 300, category 1 testing procedures that simulate 100 common-carrier (air, land and sea) shipments. All “normal & expected” rough handling environments are taken into consideration when testing these cases. They are subject to vibration test, drop test and moisture test criteria guidelines.

As covered on in our Customer Service/FAQ page, reusable containers are designated in three categories:





ATA 300 requirements also require cases to meet the following additional requirements:

  • Temperature extremes: Must fall within -40° F to 130° F
  • Fasteners and Hardware: Are to be flush or recessed. Straps and buckles are not acceptable.
  • Handles/ Hand-Holds: Excepting molded containers (where guarded handles are used), all handles, hand-holds, and grips, must be recessed or flush with the container. Depending on the volume and weight of the container, the number of handles may also be regulated

To what kinds of tests are ATA cases subject?

ATA cases are subjected to tests that gauge resistance against drops, impact and water. They are also tested for shock absorption, and vibration tolerance.


What types of materials are used to construct ATA shipping cases?

Cases By Source offers ATA shipping cases in the following materials:

  • High-density polyethylene
  • MIL-SPEC High-density polyethylene
  • Furniture-grade plywood
  • Aluminum

Our engineers are well-versed in the capabilities and tolerances of these materials (and any custom inserts) and can design a case that will best protect your contents.

What processes are used in the manufacturing of shipping cases?
From Low profile shipping cases to roto-X, utility and waterproof to rugged aluminum and military ones, our shipping cases are manufactured using the rotational molded, injection molded, thermoformed processes; we also offer our fabricated ATA style-SpectraCase. Each has distinct advantages. For instance, roto-molded containers have extremely strong corners because plastic builds up in those areas during the molding process, increasing the overall strength of the container. A Cases By Source sales engineer can assist you in determining the best process for your application.

What kind of features can I look for on shipping cases?

Models differ and each offers its own features but all can be customized to meet your specific needs. Some of the features you will find among our variety of shipping case models include:

  • Gasketed tongue-and-groove metal valance
  • Heavy-duty, corrosion-resistant hardware (including recessed or surface-mounted latches and flush spring-loaded handles

  • Resistance to UV, solvents, corrosion, fungus and impact damage
  • Waterproof, dust- and air-tight design (MIL-SPEC)
  • Molded-in protective bumpers
  • Lift-off or hinged lids
  • Optional Shock-mounted rack frames
  • Cut-outs for vents, fans, line cords
  • Pressure relief / breather valves
  • Padlock hasps and key locks
  • TSA Locking Latches
  • Stackability
  • Casters or retractable handles with recessed wheels
  • Empty, foam-filled and Pick ‘N’ Pluck-filled interiors
  • Color Options
  • Optional stencil or silk-screen decoration
  • Optional die-cut foam interiors
  • Lifetime warranty

How I can I customize a shipping case to best protect and transport my components?

Proper cushioning can be designed to alleviate your specific shipping concerns. Our design engineers can help you to determine the proper degree of protection and support for any size, weight, and shaped product that requires a shipping case with a customized case insert.

We offer custom foam interiors engineered to properly cradle and protect your shipment’s valuable cargo. We can also build a case to meet the unique size requirement of your application. Our SpectraCase model is the ATA shipping and transport case that offers the greatest strength for protecting your sensitive equipment and valuable merchandise and the widest range of custom options to meet your needs. Our manufacturing process for ATA cases allows for the production of one custom case with unlimited design choices to meet your exact requirements. They are fabricated with furniture grade plywood, heavy-duty latches, optional locks, heavy duty wheels, foam, and more.

We will build a case to the specific requirements of your intended application, no minimum required.

We also provide color options, and stencil and silk-screen decoration to reinforce corporate branding during transport.


If you want full control over designing your case in a DIY tool, please check out!

Contact us for a free consultation.