A billion people worldwide travel annually, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). That number is expected to rise to 1.8 billion by 2030.
But there's no reason to expect travel to get any easier—on travelers or on their luggage—in years to come.
Andiamo Luggage LLC and Bayer MaterialScience developed an extrudable polycarbonate grade intended to help keep suitcases looking good, even after extensive travel. Makrolon ET MS240 is designed to provide significantly better surface protection.
Andiamo is using the material to produce its Pantera Hard-Side Collection, and its promotional materials call the polycarbonate shell "a monumental market differentiator."
Bayer said the material offers several advantages in a luggage application. In addition to a high level of durability and scratch resistance, the plastic shell is lighter than those of suitcases made of aluminum or many other materials. The surface is designed to be soft and comfortable to the touch.
Bayer said the plastic can be colored in a variety of shades and shaped to meet individual customer needs.
"The new Makrolon grade is a scratch-resistant resin that can be formed into a suitcase shell in a single-step process," said Godwin Suen, a Bayer expert for the production of travel articles in the Asia/Pacific region. "By broadening our portfolio and introducing a product with up to four times the pencil hardness to the market, we have significantly widened the range of options available to suitcase manufacturers."
Andiamo equipped the suitcase with Thin Guard waterproof, dustproof, and fireproof zippers. The level of durability provided by the polycarbonate shell and the specialty hardware enabled the company to offer a 10-year warranty on the luggage line.
The Pantera Collection is being offered at retail starting in August 2014.