Shipping Containers and Shipping Cases Information

Shipping containersShipping containers and shipping cases include bags, boxes, buckets, barrels, ISO containers, crates, trunks, and other vessels for transporting materials.


Many different materials and types of shipping containers are available, depending on the application. Examples include:

  • custom shipping cases
  • tool crib shipping containers
  • insulated shipping containers
  • ocean shipping containers
  • plastic shipping containers
  • plastic shipping cases
  • plastic shipping crates
  • steel shipping containers
  • Styrofoam shipping containers

Intermediate bulk containers (IBC) and flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBC) are also available.


Some shipping containers are ISO or Intermodal rated. These freight containers conform to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) container manufacturing standards. The term intermodal refers to the transport of freight in one shipping container by multiple modes of transportation, such as truck and rail, or rail and ship. ISO or Intermodal shipping container types can be general purpose or dry, insulated, flat rack or platform, open top, refrigerated, or tank.


A laptop case is suitable for shipping laptop computers. A molded case is made of molded construction. Common molding processes used are blow molding, rotational molding, and injection molding. A monitor case is suitable for shipping or storing computer monitors and plasma screens. A thermoformed case is made of thermoformed construction. In the thermoforming process, sheets of pre-extruded rigid plastic are heated horizontally and sucked down into hollow one-piece tools. After the hot plastic solidifies again, its shape conforms to that of the mold. Trimming is usually necessary to put the part in final form. Trade show shipping cases are cases specifically made for shipping trade show supplies. A tube or round case is suitable for shipping round or tube shaped objects.

General purpose containers are enclosed, box type containers used for general-purpose transportation. These containers are also called cube containers. Standard heights for dry containers are 8 ft., 6 in. These containers are also manufactured with extended heights of 9 ft., 6 in., and are referred to as high cube containers. Cargo is loaded from the end of the container. Insulated or thermal containers are used to transport chilled and frozen goods. They are also used for temperature-sensitive materials and products. The container walls are insulated, but the container does not have a refrigeration unit. Flat racks and platforms have no sidewalls, but they may have end bulkheads. They are used to transport heavy machinery. Collapsible flat rack containers are open sided containers with end bulkheads that can be folded down when the rack is empty. Open top containers are box type containers with no top. These containers can be used to carry heavy, tall, or hard to load cargo, and bulk material, such as coal or grain. Cargo can be loaded from the top or end of the container. Refrigerated, or reefer, containers are used to transport chilled and frozen goods. They are also used for temperature sensitive materials and products where a steady temperature must be maintained during shipping. Tank containers have a cylindrical tank mounted within a rectangular steel framework. These containers are built to the same standard dimensions as other ISO containers. They are used to transport liquid or bulk materials.


Important specifications when considering shipping containers and shipping cases are:

  • volume capacity
  • weight capacity
  • tare weight
  • diameter
  • length
  • width
  • height


Features common to shipping containers and shipping cases include collapsible, covers, EMI/RFI shielding, handles, hazardous materials storage, locking or restricted access, stackable, and wheels.

Related Information

CR4 Community—How to Install and Anchor Shipping Container Housing

CR4 Community—How to Insulate and Ship Expensive Bottles of Wine

IEEE Spectrum—Floating Robotic Shipping Containers Team Up to Create Islands and Runways