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What you should know about suitcase materials

Answer me this question: What material is your suitcase made of? Is your answer: plastic?
That is correct and is already in the right direction ;-). But plastic is not just plastic, because some types of plastic can be deformed better than others or react differently to environmental influences. That's why we now introduce you to the most commonly used materials for suitcases.

ABS is the abbreviation for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene copolymer and is a thermoplastic, i. a plastic, which can be deformed in a certain temperature range.
It is characterized by high stability and impact resistance and is particularly scratch-resistant due to its surface hardness. However, ABS has different quality levels.
The disadvantage of ABS suitcases is that they are difficult to recycle.

ABS polycarbonate is a laminate of ABS and polycarbonate. The inner part of the case shell is made of ABS, while the outer side is made of polycarbonate. It is used as suitcase material because it is cheaper to produce than pure polycarbonate.
In an ABS polycarbonate blend for cases, another reason is that pure polycarbonate is somewhat "tougher" in the manufacture of case shells, but mixing improves the flow characteristics of the ABS and allows the bowl to be injected better into the correct shape ,

Aluminum is a light metal, which is characterized by its light weight, its corrosion resistance, its longevity and its strong strength.
The advantage of aluminum cases is that they are very unbreakable and almost indestructible. However, they are bendable and over time, dents appear on the case shell. The dents, however, can contribute to his charm in a used suitcase ;-).
In contrast to the other featured fabrics, it is heavier in weight and also more expensive in the production of the case shells. These are two reasons why aluminum is now largely out of the running as a travel suitcase material. But aluminum is still popular with business and laptop cases.

Curv® is a relatively new material manufactured by Propex Fabrics in Germany.
It is 100% polypropylene. This is woven into fibers and then pressed under pressure into layers. The resulting fabric is then used for the production of suitcases and other products.
The composite is characterized by its flexibility and impact resistance. The advantage over conventional polypropylene is that it remains unbreakable even at low temperatures.

High density polyethylene or short HDPE is a very cold and heat resistant plastic, which is also extremely impact resistant. In travel cases, this plastic (due to the weight), however, rarely used. Especially with transport boxes and suitcases but HDPE is due to its characteristics again.

Leather is one of the oldest used products of mankind. By chemical processing techniques animal skins are refined into leather.
Leather cases and also leather bags have a smooth surface (also known as grain side or smooth leather) and a rough inside (also known as meat side or raw leather). Over time, patina develops on leather luggage, i. A natural aging, as well as signs of use give the luggage a unique look.
To go into the exact differences of the different types of leather, however, would go beyond the scope of this article.
Leather luggage is sturdy and very durable. However, in contrast to plastic suitcases very dependent on care. Similar to the aluminum suitcases, leather has become a thing of the past for travel trunks and is barely to be found. In contrast to bags where leather is still very common.

Nylon is mainly used for soft luggage and is a polyamide (see below). It is a synthetic material that is made up of fibers to form a fabric. The yarn thickness is denier (den). Generally, the higher the denier strength, the more tear resistant the fabric is. This is also the advantage of nylon: It is tear-resistant, hard-wearing and is also water-repellent or has a poor suction power.
As it is also a purely synthetic material, it is also safe from moths.
The biggest advantage of nylon, however, is that it is the lightest of all the materials presented. So if you need a suitcase with little weight, we advise you to a nylon suitcase.

Polyamides are synthetic, technically usable thermoplastics. Polyamide, e.g. Nylon, characterized by tear resistance, abrasion resistance and crease

Polycarbonate (PC for short) is one of the most widely used travel suitcases. It was first developed in 1953 by Bayer AG. PC is a transparent plastic that can be easily colored. The properties of polycarbonate are its low weight, high impact resistance and good resistance to breakage. In addition, it retains its shape even at high temperatures.
Since PC has comparatively high manufacturing costs, pure polycarbonate hard shell cases are also more expensive. Therefore, cheaper suitcases made of a mixture or other materials.
Pure polycarbonate is lower in weight than an ABS-polycarbonate blend. In addition, pure polycarbonate can be easily restored to its original form, if you accidentally should step on your suitcases.

Polycarbonate is easy to recycle, which is why there are different levels of quality in this plastic. The reason is that the PC "leftovers" are remelted and used during production. As a result, however, the products made from it are no longer so unbreakable.

Polyester is also a purely synthetic material. It is tear-resistant, light and wasserabeisend.
Polycarbonate is among others. a polyester, more precisely, it is a carbonated polyester.

Polypropylene (or PP for short) was developed in 1954 at the same time in Germany and Italy. It is a plastic with very low density, which makes it very impact-resistant and unbreakable, but still remains light in weight.
The PP case shells are made by injection molding, which means that the liquid plastic is pressed into the mold and then hardens. The result is a case with a rather thin but durable shell, which does not require an additional frame construction.

Disadvantage of polypropylene is that at temperatures below freezing, the plastic becomes brittle. This is due to the fact that PP has missing fillers. However, this does not mean that polypropylene cases break in winter.

In hybrid cases, the properties of soft and hard-shell luggage are combined using different materials.
  A hybrid suitcase or semi-hard suitcase is a piece of luggage in which two different materials are combined.
The materials consist on the one hand of a hard plastic, such. Polycarbonate, and a flexible textile, such as e.g. Nylon.

However, there is not "the one" design for a hybrid suitcase, but quite variants.
So a soft luggage can be considered a hybrid case, if the corners of the trolley are reinforced with hard plastic.
Normally, with these suitcases, the hard shell is on the side on which the suitcase is placed, ie the "bottom side" or underside.

At first glance, these suitcases seem to be a pure soft luggage. In fact, the inner case is made of hard plastic (in this case made of polycarbonate) and is covered by a nylon textile.

Summary - Semi hard-shell suitcase
The three points that make up a hybrid suitcase are:

  • A hybrid case is a suitcase that combines hard and soft luggage
  • There are several construction methods for a hybrid suitcase
  • Semihartschalenkoffer to combine the light weight and robust processing of the other two types of cases