Image Credit Staxxon
Inhabitat shows another folding container design that differs from the Cargoshell we showed last year; it folds horizontally instead of vertically. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
A hinge is always a weak point, and the Staxxon has solid walls with a folding floor and roof. Solid walls will probably be stronger when they are stacked.
On the other hand, on a container with folding walls, the rigid doors act as a solid stiffener. When it folds flat it can still be easily lifted by conventional spreaders and dropped on a flatbed conventionally.
Also unlike the Cargoshell, the Staxxon uses conventional steel container parts (the prototype is actually a retrofit). The company explains why:
Staxxon's top sustainability objective is to reduce the number of container ship movements as well as intra-state truck movements at ports related to empty containers. While some competitors have focused their environmental objectives around the use of composite materials to replace steel, Staxxon has focused on the larger environmental challenge of reducing net sea-going vessel movements and gate entries involving empty containers. In addition, Staxxon's folding method allows existing container fleets to be repurposed to address sea lanes and routes with high empty imbalance scenarios instead of requiring wholesale replacement of existing container fleets.
Staxxon founder and CEO George Kochanowski applied for his patent five years ago and got 7703632 last year; these things take a long time.
Collapsible containers are not a new idea; Here is William W. McQuiston's 1980 patent 4214669 (things were different then; he got his in five and a half months). The big question is, is there a market for them?
If the problem is that more containers are coming in to America full and there are not enough goods going back, it makes no difference to an ocean going ship whether they are flat or not, it is returning anyways. It may be that they are piling up on the East coast after being trucked or sent by rail across the country from Long Beach and it is too expensive to send them west again, in which case it can make a lot of sense. As I suggested in the previous post, there may be a domestic internal market:
This market could justify a more expensive box if four of them could be deadheaded in the space of one. It could change the economics of intermodal transport of goods, helping get transport trailers off the roads and the goods onto rail.