Originally, suitcases were made of wool or linen. Leather also became a popular material for suitcases. It was used to cover wood suitcases or just on its own for collapsible suitcases. It is difficult to document all the materials suitcases have been made out of. Like all produced consumer goods the materials chosen to construct suitcases are truly a product of their time. Wool, wood, leather, metal, plastic, fiber composite even recycled materials are all common suitcase materials. During covered wagon times trunks were a popular form of transporting goods. The ride was rough, so the luggage had to be strong. The theme of suitcases becoming less cumbersome over time could be directly related to the advancement of better transportation.
As transportation changed, soft sided suitcases manufactured from polyester prevailed. The original 'Halliburton' aluminum travel cases were handmade for Erle P. Halliburton's personal use in 1938. In 1950 Rimowa introduced the mass market aluminum suitcase based on the Junkers Ju 52 airplane shortly followed by Zero Halliburton. Nylon suitcases prevailed afterwards. Bernard Sadow, first patented wheeled luggage in 1974. In the mid 1980s, Andiamo was the first company to incorporate ballistic nylon into luggage.
The first suitcases made of polycarbonate were made in 2000 by the German luggage maker Rimowa. Most luggage manufacturers has make some suitcases from the material. There are many grades of polycarbonate.
Both acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) which was cheaper than polycarbonate, and polypropylene which was lighter than polycarbonate were introduced shortly after polycarbonate.Spinner style wheeled suitcases were introduced in 2004.