Drop testing is a procedure used to evaluate the response of packaging and its contents to effects such as free drops, tumbles, and other types of handling in shipping and distribution environments. Such simulations are designed to simulate potential mishandling and expected conditions that products and their packaging may encounter in distribution and use environments.

Here, we will introduce drop test and drop test standards for you in detail.

1. What is a drop test?

In fact, drop testing is one of many ways to evaluate the durability of products and packaging during shipping and handling, and sometimes even throughout the life of the product. During drop testing, packages are dropped from different directions (corners, edges, and surfaces) in a controlled environment to detect weak points in your product and then address them.

There are several different types of drop tests, each of which checks how your product and/or packaging handles different levels of shock. For example, a free-fall drop test checks the structural integrity of a sample after being dropped from a certain height. A tumble tester, on the other hand, evaluates the response of an exposed product to a semi-random repeated tumble or rolling motion, rather than being dropped from a considerable height.

Common drop test conditions include free fall onto a solid surface from various heights. The drop height for each Linkotest test depends on the requirements set by standards such as ASTM or ISTA.Drop Testing guide

2. Purpose of drop test

We understand that many products are at risk of being dropped during installation, transport, or repair. While your operators are trained to handle these items with care, accidents can happen to even the most experienced professionals. Drop testing ensures your product remains in pristine condition from manufacture to implementation.

In addition to keeping products safe throughout their journey from point A to point B, many products face the risk of being dropped or jolted throughout their life cycle. These products include handheld devices and tools, laboratory equipment, personal computers, field measurement equipment, construction tools, and more. In this case, you may need to perform a drop test to ensure that the expensive tool or equipment can withstand the hazards of intended use and abuse.

3. Importance of drop test

Many products are at risk of falling during installation, transport or repair. While handlers are trained to handle these items with care, accidents can happen to even the most experienced professionals. Drop testing ensures that products remain in pristine condition from manufacture to implementation. In addition to keeping products safe throughout their journey from point A to point B, many products face the risk of being dropped or jolted throughout their life cycle.

Therefore, it is very necessary to conduct a drop test. It can predict in advance the possible drop risk of your product during transportation and take relevant preventive measures to avoid major losses.

4. Advantages of drop test

We provide you with drop-testing services for the following purposes:

  • Simulate how real-world influences will affect the project.
  • Assess whether a product meets government, industry, or company standards.
  • Gathers detailed data about the item’s performance while affected.

Of course, drop testing can also provide information that can be used for many other purposes, such as product specifications. The manufacturer’s industry and desired results determine the expected drop test results.

5. Packaging and product drop test

In the drop test, Linkotest’s devices are subjected to free fall and sudden impact conditions from different heights and angles. Your product must withstand specified conditions and be tested repeatedly until a failure is found. These procedures can help identify the types of conditions that may cause functional or cosmetic impairment.

6. Drop test to check packaging quality

Packaging protects the contents from dynamic, static, and climatic influences. These packages are tested against international standards and specifications. The smooth storage and logistics of products require proper packaging testing. These tests are not recommended as standard tests as they are custom-made to the client’s requirements.

The safe packaging of goods is very important to prevent financial loss. Using a high-quality double-walled box to secure and bear the weight of the contents is essential to prevent potential damage. Many factors can cause damage to a product during shipping. They are road conditions, weather, storage conditions, the shape and size of the package, the way it is loaded onto the truck, the contents of other packages, machine or human error, etc.

Drop testing is performed to check the quality of your product during quality control inspections. The purpose of testing is to determine how your packaging and goods will be affected when they land. The test drop height depends on the total weight of the product and packaging. The test is performed by dropping the carton a total of 10 times.

Do this first around corners or wherever the damage is most likely. The cartons are dropped from the proper height and angle. Twist the carton in all directions in the correct order. The drop test machine is used to test the impact strength of packaged products under free-fall impact.

Drop Testing guide

Outcome evaluation can be done if any of the following conditions are not true, i.e.

  • Damaged inner packaging
  • Damaged shipping carton
  • Items inside are scratched, warped, dented, or otherwise damaged

The test passes if the box or package deforms regularly without damaging the contents.

There are several ways you can qualify for a drop test:

  • Good quality packaging should be chosen when shipping, as the price of replacing damaged items, is higher than the price of protective packaging.
  • Choose the proper thickness and structural design to ensure proper protection for heavy interior items.
  • Track the quantity and location of products inside the carton.
  • Use additional measures such as “fragile” labels, directional arrows, etc.

7. Who needs a carton drop test?

Any importer concerned with product or packaging quality should consider including carton drop testing or package drop testing in their pre-shipment inspection program. This test is for orders shipped in standard-size corrugated boxes produced by corrugated box machine. Goods packed in plastic or other packaging materials should be tested using other packaging standards.

The carton drop test simulates the shipping environment in which packaged goods can be damaged by a series of drops. Test results reveal how rough handling may damage packaging materials and predict any potential damage that may occur to your product.

As part of routine packaging inspections, professional quality control inspectors use carton drop tests to assess packaging quality. This is one of the easiest packaging tests to perform, requiring minimal equipment, formal training, and time. Inspectors typically perform this test by dropping the carton from a certain height a total of 10 times.

If your shipping cartons are too large to be easily accessed, you may need to hire a certified laboratory to conduct packaging testing with specialized equipment.

8. Carton drop test procedure

When QC inspectors do carton drop tests. The program has five main parts. If you are only checking one product or SKU, you only need to test one master carton as it will usually line up with the rest of the cartons. If there are multiple items/SKUs in a carton, you must test one of each carton.

In terms of what is required to perform a carton drop test, very little is required. A scale is needed to weigh the carton and a tape measure is needed to accurately measure the height of the drop.

Once the equipment and cartons have been selected, the five-step process can begin. This includes:

1) Select the carton

As mentioned above, the carton must be selected. Randomness is critical, especially in the factory itself, as it allows us to accurately describe the overall quality of the carton. Third-party quality control agencies such as HQTS have procedures in place to ensure that inspectors always ensure that a factory cannot ensure that a specific carton is selected to skew the results.

The selected carton must also be packed according to the correct specifications and the product/packaging must be checked. This is part of the pre-shipment inspections common in most supply chains and eliminates the possibility of damage occurring before drop testing.

2) Find a suitable test surface

Once a carton has been randomly selected, it is necessary to find a surface that will guarantee an accurate test. This includes finding a hard surface on which nothing can hit the carton while the test is in progress, as this could damage the carton and invalidate the test.

3) Drop the carton ten times

If you have selected a surface, you can test it. You have to find the right height and drop the carton ten times from different angles. The image below shows the height at which the cartons were dropped. It depends on its weight.

Cartons must be dropped from all angles. Flip the carton so that the fabrication joints are facing up (fabrication joints are where the cartons are joined, usually with glue, tape, and staples, and are most likely to break). If not found, the edge with the smallest width is used. Lower the carton on all sides, according to the table above, until ten times have been completed.

4) Open and verify product condition

After dripping, the carton must be opened to check the packaging. A test is considered to have failed if any of the following conditions are met:

  1. The product inside the package is damaged/deformed or has any traces.
  2. Functional issues of the product may pose a safety hazard due to drop testing.
  3. carton badly damaged
  4. The retail box is badly damaged

Some damage to the carton board is common; however, any movement or damage to the packaging or the product inside constitutes “significant damage”.

9. Benefits of carton drop test

Usually, some suppliers who are not familiar with drop testing may feel uncomfortable or unwilling to perform drop testing for fear of causing unnecessary damage to the product. While this is a legitimate concern, it is important to understand that if this testing is not performed, there is a potential danger of the product being damaged in transit, resulting in customers and suppliers receiving defective or damaged products.

Not only can this cause financial problems for replacement merchandise, but it can also damage an organization’s extremely valuable reputation. This is why implementing a carton drop test during the pre-shipment inspection is beneficial in reducing any potential problems with the carton during shipment. As a result, you will save time and money in the long run.

10. What types of products are tested in the shock drop test?

Many different products can benefit from shock drop testing. Some product drop tests performed using this method include:

  • Electronics (i.e. smartphones, PCs, tablets)
  • Laboratory equipment
  • Medical equipment
  • Drug
  • Bulk Food Packaging

In general, drop testing is a good idea if you are shipping delicate or high-value cargo that is not suitable for rough handling, or if your product is not in perfect shape and could be rejected by consumers.

Even though the design features of network racks and window trays are quite different, OEMs would benefit from drop testing both. In addition to these situations, lightweight products can also benefit from drop testing.

Drop Testing guide

11. What factors affect the severity of a drop test?

The severity of a drop test can be affected by a variety of factors, including the height of the drop, the surface on which the object lands, and the shape and composition of the object. Height is probably the most important factor in determining the severity of a fall. The higher an object falls, the greater the force it experiences upon impact. Depending on the composition and shape of the object, this force can cause extensive damage.

The surface on which the object lands is also important. Hard surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt, can cause serious damage on impact. Objects dropped on softer surfaces such as grass or sand probably won’t take much damage. However, it’s worth noting that even soft surfaces can cause injury if the object is dropped from a high enough height.

Shape and composition are two other factors that affect severity. Objects with sharp edges or points are more susceptible to damage than smooth and round objects. Additionally, objects made of stronger materials are less likely to break than those made of weaker materials.

1) Drop surface hardness

The hardness of the drop surface material affects the severity of the drop test.

#1. Harder surfaces

In general, the rigor of the tests increases because they absorb less energy during impact than softer surfaces. Some of the product’s kinetic energy (kinetic energy) is transferred from the product to the surface it hits.

#2. Softer surface

In general, the severity of the test is reduced by increasing the impact time, since they absorb more energy than harder surfaces. Since the change in momentum to stop a falling object is fixed, the impact force must decrease as the impact time increases. Therefore, a softer surface material has a lower impact than a harder surface material.

For example, several different drop surfaces (in order of increasing hardness) include:

  • Plywood

  • Vinyl tiles placed on concrete

  • Specific

  • Steel

Vinyl tile is less likely than concrete to fail a drop test because vinyl tile is a softer material than concrete. While concrete is not as strong as steel, its rough surface can cause multiple localized high impacts, leading to more severe falls.

NOTE: All surfaces are thick enough to resist any flexing during impact. A surface thickness of 2 inches is required by MIL-STD.

2) Drop surface roughness

The roughness of the surface also affects the severity of the drop test.

  • Bumping (localized effects) is less likely to occur on smoother surfaces and is less likely to cause damage to the test setup.

  • Rough surfaces have a greater impact in drop testing because:

    • The bumps on the surface act as point contacts and concentrate the load on the test unit during the drop

    • Rough surfaces tend to grip the test subject’s casing, preventing the device from sliding, which would otherwise dissipate impact energy through rotational motion.

For example, for a given height, a fall onto concrete is usually more severe than a fall onto steel because concrete is much rougher than steel. As a result, concrete drops can produce more failures, such as display damage and product scarring, than steel drops.

A spec sheet may specify a polished concrete drop surface that is less likely to grab the product, leaves less scarring, and transmits more energy to the spin than the product absorbs.

3) Accelerometer test

The image below provides an example of test data for a specific situation, only the drop surface and height were changed. The figure below shows the above acceleration data when the device was only dropped on concrete (a single surface).

Data from dropping the same device onto different surfaces and heights reflect expected acceleration trends. For a single surface material, the acceleration at impact increases with the height of the drop, because objects dropped from higher heights, have more time to gain velocity before hitting the ground. Therefore, greater shock acceleration is required to slow and stop the motion of the object.

Not all drop surfaces have the same effect on the product

  • Determine which drop standard (MIL-STD810G) or regulatory reference to use

  • When evaluating drop performance, different drop surfaces should be observed. For example:

    • Specific

    • Polished concrete

    • Steel

    • 2″ plywood on concrete

    • Vinyl tiles on concrete

Drop Testing guide

12. What other types of drop tests are there?

Drop testing is a general term for testing the ability of packaging or products to withstand shocks. Various test standards are included in this range to meet specific test inputs. The shock a phone takes after being dropped off a kitchen counter is very different from the shock a crate takes when its rail car is lifted with a second rail car.

  • ASTM D5276    – The most commonly cited drop test, the free fall impact simulates the drop of containers of various sizes from various heights and orientations. Allocation standards such as ASTM D4169, ASTM D7386, ISTA 3A, and ISTA 2A specify these variables.
  • ASTM D4003    – Horizontal Impact Test challenges the ability of a product or package to withstand a horizontal impact. You’ll see these phenomena in use environments when a forklift suddenly crashes into a target, or when two railcars carrying goods connect together, causing a collision event.
  • ASTM D5277    – Use an Inclined Impact Tester to help diagnose damage that may be caused by railcar switching, pallet assembly, or other mechanical means.
  • ASTM D5265   – Tests the ability of objects dropped on long, narrow packages to withstand the impact of free fall. The test is performed with the package supported at both ends, forming a “bridge”.
  • ASTM D6344    – Concentrated Impact Simulates low-intensity impacts to packaging systems from external sources. This can be caused by adjacent items, sort damage, or belt and chute strikes.
  • ASTM D6055   – Hazards present when containers are moved mechanically, such as with forklifts or similar equipment.
  • ASTM D6179    – Also specific to mechanically handled containers, these inputs focus on rotational and planar effects on the bottom and edges of packaging systems.
  • ASTM D880    – Another form of horizontal impact testing is usually done on packaging systems, whereas ASTM D4003 is usually done on products.
  • IEC 60068-2-31   – Repeated low-intensity shocks to products during a tumble test.

13. What are the other precautions for the drop test?

Test standards organizations such as ASTM, IEC, and ISTA have developed drop test procedures. The drop test process can be done with the help of machines. However, operator training has a large influence on the results. For a repeatable drop test, you should consider the following:

  • Test operator training needs to be consistent and documented. Since the operator has a large influence on the results, you want to ensure that the training program mitigates operator variability. This is ensured through a robust quality management system and test method validation program.
  • Drop test machines should undergo an annual preventive maintenance program.
  • The drop height should be confirmed using a calibration ruler, preferably against an approved reference standard.
  • Impact surfaces used in testing shall be in accordance with the testing protocol. Consider a protocol that allows hardwood or linoleum to be struck against a surface to simulate dropping a cell phone off a kitchen counter.

We adhere to the following testing procedures and protocols:

  • ASTM D880
  • ASTM D4003
  • ASTM D4179
  • ASTM D5265
  • ASTM D5276
  • ASTM D5487
  • ASTM D6055
  • ASTM D6344
  • IEC 60068-2-31
  • ISO 2248
  • ISTA 2A and ISTA 2B
  • ISTA 3A and ISTA 3B
  • All other ISTA and Sam’s Club standards

14. Conclusion

Drop testing is an important indicator of quality and durability, and Linkotest is dedicated to helping consumers identify the most cost-effective, long-lasting packaging and product solutions. By receiving detailed, data-driven reports generated through drop testing and other procedures, our customers can easily and reliably identify areas of concern.

In addition, to drop testing, our ISTA and A2LA-certified teams can also perform environmental conditioning testing, reliability testing, material analysis, and more.

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