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13 surprising advantages of aluminium cases and containers

Last Updated 23rd April 2021
Posted In: Guides & Advice | Transit Protection

Aluminium Case Benefits

What are the reasons you should consider using aluminium containers?

When most people think of a protective case, the most common response is a Peli moulded waterproof option, or a custom-built flight case. And these are admittedly great choices for a huge range of uses / scenarios.

What this does mean however is that another form of case – those manufactured from aluminium – are frequently overlooked.

Doing so would be a mistake, however.

Aluminium cases actually boast a wide range of features and inherent properties that can make them much more suited to certain industries or applications than other forms of protective case.

This guide sets out 13 sometimes surprising (and often overlooked) benefits associated with using aluminium cases. Please continue reading below or use the table of contents to jump directly to your area of interest.

Quick Reference / Contents

Aluminium Case Options

What aluminium cases are available?

Before highlighting the key benefits of aluminium cases, it is first important to give a brief overview of the aluminium cases available.

Whilst there a number of well-known manufacturers of aluminium cases – including Bott and Maxado – arguably the name most commonly associated with these types of containers is Zarges.

Also well know for manufacturing ladders and work platforms, Zarges offer a wide range of alu case options. This includes the widely used K470 and Eurobox ranges (with the main difference between these being the use of metal or plastic components for handles, stacking corners etc.).

surprising advantages aluminium cases
There are a number of surprising, and often overlooked, benefits of using aluminium cases

However, it is also possible to get aluminium cases tailored specifically for use as Kit Skips (i.e. for transporting sport equipment – widely used by Premier League football teams), Rack Mount cases, and even containers for transporting lithium batteries and other hazardous goods.

It is also possible to source aluminium flight cases, although these typically provide lower levels of performance than the pre-fabricated cases / trunks.

The 13 surprising advantages of aluminium cases and containers

So what are the benefits of using aluminium cases and containers?

Well, in no particular order, here are the key advantages of using this type of case:

  • Light weight
  • Water / vapour resistance
  • Corrosion / rust proof
  • UV ray resistant
  • Excellent strength / durability
  • Resistant to extreme temperatures
  • Excellent heat dissipation
  • Non-magnetic
  • Anti-static / conductive
  • Hygienic and easy to clean
  • Safe and inert
  • Wide range of customisation options
  • Fully recyclable

Please continue reading for further details of each of these advantages.

01: Light weight

Aluminium cases are surprisingly light in weight

One of the key benefits of choosing an aluminium case is that they are exceptionally lightweight, whilst remaining strong and rigid.

For example, the Zarges aluminium cases such as the Eurobox and K470 ranges boast a density of approximately 2.6 to 2.8 grams per cubed cm. Whilst that is only about a third of the density of steel, aluminium maintains a high strength to weight ratio.

Being lightweight makes aluminium cases ideal if transportation costs (due to weight – e.g. on aircraft) is an important consideration, or indeed if heavy or bulky items are to be kept in the container. It also makes handling easier too.

light weight aluminium cases
Aluminium cases are extremely light (whilst maintaining excellent strength), making them easy to handle and minimising transit costs

02: Water / Vapour Resistance

Aluminium is vapour impermeable

Aluminium is vapour impermeable, ensuring that moisture cannot seep or diffuse through the surface of any cases manufactured from it.

Besides this, and more generally, the welded construction of the majority of aluminium cases also means that they are resistant to water vapour. Cases of this type are often coupled with a foam (or similar) seal in the lid, also protecting against rain and being splashed.

This makes aluminium cases a great choice for applications such as transporting sports training equipment (moisture cannot get in or out) and has seen them used extensively by sports teams including all Premier League football clubs.

water resistant aluminium cases
Aluminium cases can be manufactured to be completely water tight, and will also not rust

03: Corrosion Resistant

Aluminium cases will not rust!

A common misconception about aluminium cases is that they will rust if they come into contact with water. In fact, the surface of the aluminium will oxidise, with this layer of oxide actually protecting the case from any further damage or corrosion.

As a result, aluminium trunks and containers are highly resistant to sea and saltwater, making them suitable for use in industries such as offshore oil and gas, military / naval applications, and for individuals when yachting, sailing, fishing or using in coastal environments.

04: UV Ray Resistant

Aluminium material will not degrade in sunlight

Unlike moulded plastic cases, aluminium will not be affected in any way by prolonged exposure to UV rays.

The material will not degrade in terms of colour, appearance or surface lustre if exposed to the sun over any time period (although other atmospheric elements, for example dust, may have some minor impact).

This makes aluminium cases, such as those manufactured by Zarges and Bott, a great choice if they are to be used in hot climates.

05: Excellent Strength / Impact Resistance

Durability and protection for the contents of aluminium cases

Many people will underestimate the strength of aluminium (often due to its light weight). However, aluminium and the cases manufactured from it actually offer considerably better fracture toughness than the majority of other materials used for producing protective cases.

Aluminium cases therefore are typically resistant to impacts, mechanical breakage, and fracturing. In effect, it means that the material will not easily stress, tear, or crack.

Whilst aluminium cases will see their surfaces dented upon extreme impact, the force of this will be completely absorbed by the deformation caused. This obviously offers a good level of protection for any contents within the case, ensuring they are protected from such impact.

As a result, aluminium cases are frequently used in industrial settings and construction projects to protect tools, equipment and heavy-duty components.

aluminium case strength
Aluminium cases, despite their light weight, are incredibly strong and durable

06: Resistant to Extremes of Temperature

Aluminium cases are not affected by high or low temperatures

The properties of aluminium ensure that trunks / containers produced from it have the widest operational temperature range of any protective case available commercially today. The integrity or strength of the case will not be affected between -80 degrees C and 150 degrees C.

This means that at low temperatures, aluminium cases will not become more fragile and brittle (as per plastic cases), but the tensile strength actually increases without loss of ductility.

Aluminium cases extreme temperatures
Aluminium cases are often used for polar expeditions (and in hot climates) as they are not sensitive to extreme temperatures

In contrast, the low coefficient of thermal expansion of aluminium material means that it is able to sustain higher temperatures without distortion.

As a result, aluminium cases are not only used in hot climates but have also been used on polar expeditions to both the North and South poles (where their light weight has also been a key advantage).

07: Heat Dissipation

High levels of thermal conductivity protect contents

As well as an option for protective cases, aluminium is often used in heat sinks and heat exchangers due to the materials’ high thermal conductivity.

This has benefits for protective cases too. For example, the aluminium walls of the case efficiently transport heat away from any devices, electronics and other specialist equipment that are stored within.

In a similar vein, aluminium also has a high light reflectivity of over 80% (including to radiated heat such as sunlight).

These properties mean that aluminium cases are commonly used for housing electronics (such as the Zarges Mitraset range) as well as the safe transit of lithium batteries.

aluminium case heat dissipation
Aluminium cases provide excellent heat dissipation, making them suitable for the safe storage of specialist electronics

08: Non-Magnetic

Suitability for electronics and sensitive items

Unlike other types of metal cases, aluminium containers are not magnetic. The aluminium construction ensures that metal tools, components, equipment, and products can be safely stored without worrying about electromagnetic fields damaging them.

This is particularly important for certain types of electronics and audio-visual equipment, as well as a wide range of other applications.

This – similarly to the heat dissipation properties – is why aluminium is used for EMC cases / rack mount housing.

09: Anti-Static / Conductive

Inherent protection for electronics

As aluminium cases are a good conductor of electricity, as well as heat, it makes them perfect for protecting electronics equipment, static sensitive devices and most modern computers and electrical equipment.

In fact, aluminium has the highest electrical conductivity-to-weight ratio of any metal. This means that aluminium cases are excellent for RFI / EMI shielding alongside controlling ESD (electro static discharge).

As mentioned in the previous point, as aluminium is also non-magnetic and an efficient reflector for externally generated interference (such as electromagnetic wavelengths of radio and radar) it further enhances its suitability for use in electronics equipment cases.

Please note however that this level of protection may not be sufficient for certain equipment or tools, but with the inclusion of anti-static foams can often provide the required protection.

When coupled with the other key benefits provided, such as strength and protection from moisture, it has seen many specialist organisations specify Zarges and similar aluminium cases to protect their important electronics equipment when in transit or on location.

10: Easy Clean

Aluminium cases are easy to clean and hygienic

Yet another key benefit of aluminium is its hygienic nature. The smooth surfaces mean that aluminium cases are very easy to keep clean, whilst ensuring that they do not retain odours from the environment either.

This, alongside the resistance to moisture, is one of the main reasons aluminium “kit skips” are chosen to transport sports equipment (which will often be muddy and wet) and also why many medical companies will use them over moulded plastic cases.

easy clean aluminium cases
As aluminium cases are easy to clean, they are widely used by sports teams for transporting kit and equipment (including that which is muddy)

11: Safe / Inert

Aluminium cases are safe for a wide range of specialist applications

Besides being easy to clean., aluminium cases provide a number of other properties that makes them suitable for a range of specialist applications.

For example, aluminium is non-toxic. It is also odourless, non-absorbing, non-sparking, non-magnetic (as detailed earlier), and non-flammable.

This means that aluminium cases can be used safely in clean rooms and medical applications (amongst many others). It is also one of the reasons that aluminium cases are being widely used of the safe transit of lithium ion batteries.

12: Customisation

Wide range of custom options

There are a wide range of customisation options for aluminium cases. Whilst this may include range specific items such as castors, wheels, handle types etc., nearly all aluminium cases can have print or other specialist finishes added (e.g. mechanical processes such as brushing or polishing, chemical such as anodizing, or paint and powder coating).

Besides this, aluminium cases can be enhanced with bespoke foam inserts (either simple case lining or fully engineered inserts), and being easy to drill / rivet etc, can also have bezel kits and other features added too.

custom aluminium cases with foam
Aluminium cases have a lot of options as standard, but can be further enhanced using bespoke foam inserts

13: Recyclable

Aluminium is fully (and widely) recycled

Finally, aluminium is completely recyclable. Unlike moulded plastic, at the end of the cases’ life it can be melted down and re used. This is obviously an important contribution to reducing the strain on raw materials and reducing carbon footprints.

In Summary

13 reasons to consider aluminium cases

As you can see, aluminium cases boast a wide array of benefits and that make them suitable for a huge range of applications.

Their particular combination of properties and performance also make them a great choice where other forms of case – such as flight cases, waterproof cases etc. – are likely to not perform as well.

If you think that aluminium cases could be a suitable option for your specific application, equipment or market sector, then please speak with an advisor at GWP.

Further Reading...

About the Author

Richard Coombes

Richard Coombes

General Manager | GWP Protective

Having originally joined GWP Protective back in 2004, working on the factory floor, Richard now heads up the business as General Manager. [Read full bio…]

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