4 Industrial Uses for 40 Foot Shipping Containers

With all the unused shipping containers in the world, there are plenty of 40 foot shipping containers available for mobile industrial or on-site industrial use. Of the 17 million shipping containers in circulation around the world, over 5 million are in active use making around 200 million trips per year as shipping containers. While those numbers are staggering, they also mean that there are plenty of inactive shipping containers that could be put to some other use. Shipping containers have some inherent characteristics that, with a few modifications, make them ideal for certain industrial uses. Here are four examples of industrial uses for 40 foot shipping containers:

Machine Shop

Many industrial sites and construction sites could benefit from on-site or mobile machine shops for many purposes ranging from routine tasks such as tool sharpening to more involved tasks such as fabrication of parts. Shipping containers can be outfitted with electrical and HVAC systems to create a comfortable environment for machine operators. For some applications, like machining metal, no additional ventilation may be required. For other applications, such as woodworking, additional filtration systems may be needed to remove dust from the air. Plastic fabrication and metal cutting may require additional fume removal systems.

Most importantly for this application, however, is that 40-foot shipping containers are inherently secure. The heavy steel forming the walls and doors are perfect for securing machine tools that may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more if 3D printing or CNC machines are involved. Being able to lock up the machine tools inside a 40-foot shipping container every night gives the machine shop operator peace of mind that the machine tools will be there the next morning.

Paint Booth

Paint is hazardous to the painter and the environment. Moreover, paint is a fire hazard. Paint booths are designed to prevent contamination of the environment while providing the painter with the ventilation needed to keep them safe. Shipping containers can be outfitted with electrical and ventilation systems to support the painting equipment and the safety systems for the employee. Furthermore, as a steel box, 40-foot shipping containers are well suited to contain any fire once outfitted with a fire suppression system.

Again, most importantly for this application, is that 40-foot shipping containers are built to contain whatever is inside. With some modification to ensure that all the airflow is directed through the ventilation system, environmental contamination from the fumes and atomized paint can be minimized.

Welding Booth

Like painting, welding creates both fumes and a fire hazard. A 40-foot shipping container that is outfitted with a fume extraction system, an electrical system, HVAC, and a fire suppression system would be well suited for welding.

Sandblasting Booth

While sandblasting has some characteristics in common with painting and welding, particularly the need for proper ventilation and air filtration, sandblasting has one unique characteristic. When sandblasting, the sand and dust blasted from the workpiece must be recovered, otherwise, the sandblasting booth would eventually fill up with sand and dust. A 40-foot shipping container configured as a sandblasting booth would isolate the sandblasting from the environment and would be outfitted with an electrical system, ventilation, and air filtration system, and dust recovery system to remove and contain the sand and dust.


These are just a few examples of industrial uses for steel shipping containers. With some customization, 40 foot shipping containers can be transformed into machine shops, paint booths, welding booths, sandblasting booths, and more.

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