ATA cases are also referred to as road cases or flight cases. They are built to protect motion picture equipment, production equipment, musical instruments, and any other sensitive equipment which must be moved between locations. ATA road cases come in a variety of sizes, ranging from a small custom designed case for an individual to a large case that caters to an entire production company.
Quick links to ATA Cases Information
Applications of ATA Cases
ATA cases provide protection for a wide variety of items during shipping, storage, and transportation. Many case companies manufacture ATA "style" cases which, although modeled after ATA guidelines, do not conform to them and are consequently considered not as safe as ATA-certified cases.
ATA Case Design Customization
Because ATA cases carry such a broad range of technical equipment of different weights, sizes, and accessibility requirements, most ATA case manufacturers offer custom manufacturing while remaining within the ATA specifications.
Accessories that may be added to ATA cases include:
- Telescoping Handles
- Swivel Casters
- Socket Casters
- Edge Casters
- Quick Release Casters
- Keylock Latches
- Padlock Latches
Often, caster wheels are built into or attached to the flight case to facilitate transit ease. The wheels may be removed to prevent damage to the airframe or other containers. The cases that are molded are usually made of polypropylene plastic or polyethylene. This is done by rotational molding or injection molding. For splash protections, most cases are gasketed. They generally have a similar wheel and interior options to the fabricated panel cases. You can further customize a case by adding a computer fan and a power adapter.
ATA Shipping Case Standards
ATA cases have the same general structure because of the regulations they must meet from the material to the specific kind of rivets being used. Authentic ATA cases have strict rules regarding the materials used. They must be constructed of a certain plastic laminate, fiberglass, or aluminum. The inner walls and partitions must be made of multi-layer plywood and should be fastened with an aluminum angle abutment bonded with steel rivets. Any exposed wooden edges need to be covered with an aluminum cap.
Extruded aluminum fittings must be pneumatically driven every three inches along the outer surface of the case. Precautions have been taken to ensure that the aluminum does not accidentally snag while the case is in transit. All eight corners of the case must have steel knuckled ball corners that are accommodating for the stacking of similarly sized cases on top. Piano type hinging is required for ATA cases with a hinged lid. Other requirements are concerned with the latches, handles, and interior lining. For example, latches may either be spring loaded twist latches or valence-spanning spring loaded draw latches. Rubber gripped recessed steel handles are to be used and attached by steel rivets. Also, the interior lining must be an esterfoam, a flexible polyurethane foam, or ethafoam which is expanded polyethylene plastic.
There are specific criteria elements that a shipping case must meet before a shipping case is considered up to the current ATA standards. These rules are carefully outlined in ATA's Standard 300, Category 1 specifications set. Some manufactures have custom ATA cases and list them as being compliant to the ATA’s Standard 300, Category 1. They have to show that each item, without a doubt, conforms to these specifications. One important quality that these custom-made cases must demonstrate before they are considered suitable and compliant with ATA standards is the capacity to be reused for no less than 100 round trips. What this means is that the ATA cases must be made from durable packaging material, which can withstand 100 different round trips without destruction or compromise in any way. The cases must, therefore, be designed from high quality materials using state-of-art processes.
ATA Approval Requirements
Many elements are important and affect the way a manufacturer handles the design and manufacture of a case. Some specifications, however, do not really affect the creation of an ATA case. An example of such a specification is the color of a case. A container must be white to meet ATA Spec 300, Category 1. There are many test requirements that cases have to pass so as to achieve the ATA case rating. These procedures include vibration, water spray, drop tests, and preservation packaging.
Each of these tests contains a multitude of procedures that have to be adhered to for the case to be properly tested. ATA, however, does not approve or certify shipping designs or containers as being compliant with their specifications. What custom flight cases manufacturers attempt to do is to meet or exceed the specifications given by the association.
Manufacturing Process of ATA Cases
Many road cases are constructed from panels that are joined by plastic or metal extrusions, metal, or molded plastic. For example, an ATA flight case is made from two-layer panels. An outer layer of fiberglass laminate or ABS is stuck to a mid layer of lightweight cabinet-grade plywood, 3/16" to 1/2", such as maple, birch, or poplar. The two layers are referred to as the laminate panel. High-grade ATA road cases originate from composite material. However, the materials and design used to make the ATA flight case may change depending on the budget and level of customization needed.
There is an internal shock-absorbing filler, such as polyethylene or polyurethane foam, inside the case, which has cavities that correspond to the component’s shape (the one it’s preserving). There are different shock protection methods, such as mounting the case contents to panels or racks, which are attached to case walls with shock isolators. Stamped sheet steel case corners reinforce the corners of fabricated cases. They are commonly finished in chrome, nickel, or zinc. Many times the term "ATA Case" is used to refer to road cases that look like the cases, which comply with ATA Spec 300 Category 1, but are yet to be certified by the independent ATA Spec 300 testing.
Types of Custom ATA Cases
- Music Cases
- Designed to take care of the most fragile and highly sensitive electronic equipment. These cases include amps, heads, keyboards, mixers, band and orchestra instrument cases, DJ cases, consoles and related cases, drum cases, guitar and bass cases, microphone Cases, and pedal board cases.
- Rack Cases
- Very fragile electronic equipment should be transported safely in the double end 19" cases. Rack boxes that have optional slide-out frames and are accessible from both ends make it possible for electronic equipment to be moved around in whatever environment. Rugged rotomolded outer shells enable the rack cases to take on repeated soakings, blows, and drops while still managing to protect your electronics. Rack cases can be modified to fit delicate equipment and rugged electronics alike. Rack cases need to muster the combination of shock, portability and vibration protection.
- Rack cases include rack mountable precision test equipment, instrument racks, server racks, rack for broadcast and video gear, solid-state circuit electronics racks, EMP racks, EMI racks, RFI racks, laboratory equipment rack boxes, offshore racks, satcom racks, GSE racks, broadcast racks, test equipment racks, COTS racks, MOTS racks, custom rack cases, shock mounted rack case, and rugged military racks.
- Trade Display Cases
- Protecting booth accessories and promotional displays when on the road is important. One should choose trade display cases that have padding and hard shells over flimsy cardboard boxes or traditional plastic tote to ensure your presentation equipment is protected. There are smaller versions of these cases that have shoulder straps and handles.
- These cases store gaming tables and organize supplies to keep them from getting lost. Banners can be rolled up into holders that prevent staining and wrinkling. Trade display cases that have wheels ease the process of transporting large exhibit supplies. Many good quality containers have caster wheels and extendable handles, which are used to maneuver equipment easily.
- Trunk and Utility Cases
- Utility cases are prevalent. Typically, they are one huge cavity case that holds miscellaneous items, such as stands, cables, and drapes. Trunk and utility cases are usually made to an outer dimension of a truck pack. Some options of these cases include heavy duty casters, permanent or removable partitions, caster cups, carpet liner, or foam. The trunks can be custom built to particular instructions or one can decide to choose one of the ready-made cases. Examples include cable trunks and truck pack cases, trunks and utility cases, wardrobe cases and trunks, custom ATA cases - alternative style, crate style cases, and super duty 1/2" case kits.
- Sporting Equipment Travel Cases
- These innovative cases are seen as a great alternative to traditional cases often seen as heavy or costly. They save on both storage space and money without sacrificing on protection. They consist of uniquely mixed materials and a heavy duty construction that is not only sturdy but also durable. They are cost effective, lightweight, and available in different styles and sizes.
- They are designed to fit the needs of the user and can even be customized to meet the specific needs of the user. Some of these cases, such as bike cases, have adjustable lids that can be adjusted to make the case small and compact. They are well suited for transporting bikes by train, trucks, or air. Not only do they keep the bikes well protected, but they also maintain the aesthetic look of the bike by protecting the bikes from scratches.
- Waterproof Shipping Cases
- These offer additional protection from weather elements, such as water during transportation. They have hard, rugged bodies that are airtight, watertight, dustproof, and rustproof. They are not only ideal for shipping but also for military, outdoor, and professional travel use. They are ATA-rated and can make at least 100 round trips. Their build is so strong that manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the cases. They mainly feature recessed edge wheels, as they can withstand shipping conditions. Larger cases come with removable casters to make them mobile and easy to ship. They come in different shapes and sizes. They have foamed filled interiors for enhanced protection of the equipment.
- Low Profile Shipping Cases
- Unlike the custom made shipping cases or the waterproof cases, low profile shipping cases have an underrated design but still manage to offer adequate protection during shipping. They are ATA-rated, which makes them ideal for trade show and industrial applications, such as packaging graphic panels, lighting equipment, and bore scopes. They have molded-in bumpers for improved shock absorbency and top-notch hardware protection. They have a relatively long body with a thin profile. They use heavy duty wheels to allow for easy transportation.
- Artwork Portfolio Cases
- These cases are suitable for storing and sending valuable works of art. The sign cases are used to deliver signage to clients or move important artwork or signs to other buildings. Art portfolio cases can be used to protect works of art that are in storage in a warehouse or other establishment. There are many shapes and sizes used for art transport cases, from 20" x 16" to 40" x 30". Good art portfolio cases have an overlapping PCV lid that keeps artwork moisture free.
- Computer and Laptop Combo Cases
- These are used to protect laptops and computers from getting damaged during transportation. When a laptop is not properly protected, anything can happen that could impact it. Because even the slightest bump can affect a laptop, laptop cases have to be made extra tough and have a foam lining to transport multiple laptop computers securely and safely. Laptop cases come with a pullout handle and strong wheels for ease of maneuverability.
- Custom Cases
- These cases are of different shapes and sizes. They are made for a variety of products, such as jewelry, industrial specialty equipment, specialty lighting, medical equipment, photo booth cases, cases for magicians, dual instrument, display cases and dual plasma cases, specialty signage, trade show displays, jewelry, and electronic equipment. They are applied in a multitude of industries. Based on the customer’s intended use and their strength requirements, they can choose from heavy duty cases to light duty storage.
Points to Consider When Purchasing ATA Cases
Sometimes, road case hardware needs repair and enhancement. The number one point of concern is to get back on track as quickly as possible. One should look for a quality flight case hardware specialist who will correct the problem and get the situation sorted in no time. The best case repair parts fuse heavy-duty features, which work perfectly for industrial settings as well as in entertainment environments or offices. It is important to source parts that are made from the best materials from verified sources. Parts that usually require replacements are conversion kits, wheels, brackets, fasteners, and rails.