The Process of Package Testing

An extremely vital aspect of package development is package testing. It’s necessary to test your packaging against a variety of different factors and hazards to ensure their quality and effectiveness to protect your products no matter what. It’s important to keep in mind that proper package testing goes beyond simply dropping a box and seeing if the product inside breaks or not. Standardized testing can determine how well a particular type of packaging will perform when exposed to conditions such as humidity, pressure from having other packages stacked on top of it, and vibrations.

Today we will break down package testing factors and the industry standards that need to be followed to ensure that you are using optimal packaging solutions.

Package Solution Testing

To properly test the performance of your packaging, there are many factors to consider. One such factor is the shipping method. How do you plan on shipping your products? The methods you use to ship your products will directly affect the choice of package solutions because they will be subjected to different effects.

  • Packages shipped via ocean freight is more exposed to moisture and salt than other shipping methods. 
  • Packages shipped via railway have to deal with prolonged, specific vibrations as the trains travel along their tracks. 
  • Packages shipped via truck transport will be subjected to more compression, as shipping trucks are usually jam-packed to cut down on shipping costs.

The next thing to consider is exactly what sort of stresses or strains will your packaging be subjected to? The type of product you are shipping can also determine what sort of hazards you need to protect against. For example, products that may be damaged by moisture or humidity needs to be protected by packaging that keeps moisture at bay. Your packaging needs to be properly tested to ensure that it can stand up to these effects. There are several ways that your package solutions can be tested against these stresses and strains, including:

  • Bending tests
  • Compression/Stacking tests
  • Corrosion tests
  • Edge Crushing tests
  • Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) tests
  • Moisture Absorption tests
  • Puncture Resistance tests
  • Rolling and Toppling tests
  • Shock/Drop tests
  • Temperature and Atmosphere tests
  • Vibration tests

The Testing Process

The International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) is the industry leader in standards and guidelines for testing packaging. ISTA offers two types of testing: performance tests and development tests. Performance tests are used to ensure that a packaged product will survive normal shipment, and receive either a passing or failing grade. Development tests, on the other hand, don’t test whether or not packaging can handle shipping. Instead, they compare how well packaging stacks up to similar sizes and designs of competitors.

There are multiple categories of ISTA tests and protocols, called a Series. Each Series has several different tests (called procedures) for a large number of conditions, package types, and other factors. Each ISTA procedure has a unique set of strict guidelines and equipment requirements that must be followed to the letter. Some examples include:

  • Series 1: Non-Simulation Integrity Performance Tests
    Series 1 tests evaluate the strength and durability of the product and package combination. Series 1 is not designed to simulate environmental factors. Series 1 is useful as general screening tests.
    • Procedure 1A: Packaged-Products weighing 150 lb (68 kg) or Less
      Procedure 1A performs fixed displacement vibration and shock testing.
  • Series 2: Partial Simulation Performance Tests
    A Series 2 test takes the basic elements of Series 1 tests and combines them with one or more elements from Series 3 tests.
    • Procedure 2A: Packaged-Products weighing 150 lb (68 kg) or Less
      Procedure 2A performs fixed displacement or random vibration, shock, compression, and atmospheric conditioning tests.
  • Series 3: General Simulation Performance Tests
    Series 3 tests are designed to provide laboratory simulations to assess factors in a controlled environment. The tests can assess a large range of conditions and circumstances.
    • Procedure 3A: Packaged-Products for Parcel Delivery System Shipments 70kg (150 lb) or Less (standard, small, flat, or elongated)
      Procedure 3A is a general simulation test for products shipped through a parcel delivery system. It is used to test for four different generic package types: standard, small, flat, and elongated. Procedure 3A tests for atmospheric pre-conditioning, random vibration with/without a top load, and shock.

Looking for custom packaging solutions?
Preferred Packaging is here to help.

Since our founding in 1985, we have become the preferred packaging supplier for hundreds of companies along the Front Range. We owe our 35 years of success to taking the time to really listen to our customers and come up with effective solutions for their packaging and shipping needs. We are fully equipped and able to design and manufacture packaging products, as well as provide generic packaging products, equipment automation, kitting & assembly, and warehouse & distribution services. 

To see what packaging and shipping solutions we can provide for you, call us at (303) 444-4774 or get in touch with us online today.

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