Corrugated box testing methods aim to optimize corrugated packaging so that it has the required characteristics to protect the product inside it from various hazards, without incurring in cost overruns due to under or over packaging. 

These are increasingly necessary tests in a world in which good shipments are on the rise thanks to globalization and thriving electronic commerce. It is for this reason that, in recent times, research has been underway on the development of sustainable packaging materials. These materials include corrugated boxes, one of the most widespread packaging methods in the storage and transportation of goods. 

Why perform corrugated box testing methods

Corrugated boxes always face the risk of compression, particularly if heavy loading takes place, harming the goods inside. 

Corrugated box testing methods provide key information for companies to design or rethink their packaging, as they determine maximum compression forces that the company’s boxes can endure. With this data, companies can improve their packaging processes in a number of ways: 

  • Obtain safer formulas that avoid product losses during transportation, with the economical issues that ensue.
  • Generate optimized, cost-efficient packaging systems that use the right amount of cardboard for protection.
  • Achieve more sustainable packaging combinations

load stability testing

What corrugated box testing methods are there?

Corrugated box testing methods are performed to measure the resistance of this material to compression forces, its stiffness or thickness and other factors. 

> Burst test

Also known as the Mullen Test, it consists of applying compression forces on a cardboard sample to test its resistance and bursting point. Performing this test should be considered when the corrugated box is expected to be stacked during the distribution cycle (during both transportation and storage). It requires a compression tester, which applies the compression forces to the bases of the box until failure.

> Edge crush test

The Edge Crush Test (ECT) is another protocol used to test the resistance of corrugated packaging to crushing. In this case, however, the resistance of the box is not measured at the base, but rather at its vertical axis. This is a necessary test due to the characteristics inherent to corrugated cardboard, which is composed of thicker or thinner sheets and layers to strengthen its structure.

>Box compression test

The box compression test measures the resistance of the corrugated box to compression forces. In this regard, it is similar to the Mullen test, but in this case, the entire box is used as a sample.  As before, it provides highly valuable information that must be taken into account when the corrugated box is expected to be stacked during the distribution cycle. The box compression test formula requires taking into account the results of the Edge Crush Test, the thickness of the corrugated cardboard and the edge of the box. 

corrugated box testing methods

>Water resistance of the glue

Measures the ability of the glue to withstand moist conditions. Its performance involves submerging the box in water and observing the behaviour of the strips of glue. 

>Cobb Sizing Test

The material that corrugated boxes are made of can absorb water when in contact with it, meaning that it can gain considerable weight. The Cobb sizing test is performed by measuring the box’s dry weight, submerging it in water and then measuring its weight again after having absorbed the liquid. 

>Paper thickness and grammage

Different cardboard grammages and thicknesses will be suitable for a corrugated box depending on the product that it will be used to transport. This being the case, a fragile product will require a thicker box (measured in millimetres) and with a higher grammage (measured in grams per square meter).

>Puncture resistance

This corrugated box testing method measures the resistance to punctures by sharp objects. The ISO 3036:1975 protocol can be followed to measure this. 

>Resistance to friction

Friction on the box can result in its paint or labels being damaged, affecting the company’s reputation before the end customer. 

>Corrugated box chemical analysis

This test determines the types of materials that were used to manufacture a corrugated box and its exact chemical composition. This test can be essential for the transportation of certain fragile goods; obtained results include the pH level of the cardboard.

Other corrugated box testing methods

>Atmospheric conditioning test

Atmospheric conditioning tests for corrugated boxes forecast how factors such as humidity and temperature can affect a package and the goods it is protecting. Atmosferic conditioning involves testing a sample in a laboratory setting, creating artificial environments in atmospheric chambers, that can be used to predict potential conditions that the product + package system can experience in real distribution environments.

>Package vibration test

Vibration tests simulate the vibrations that may occur during the distribution cycle that can damage and deform packaging and the goods inside it. This can be done using a vertical vibration system or transforming this equipment with a Pitch & Roll module in order to bring simulations closer to reality.

 

corrugated box testing methods: pitch and roll module

 

>Package drop test

The drop test simulates vertical drops that can affect the integrity of the packaging and the goods inside. There are a number of international testing methods and standards that include drop testing, such as ISTA drop test, UPS drop test and ASTM D5276: drop test of loaded containers.

 

Compression test standards for corrugated box testing

The different shipping test standards offer references and guidelines to perform shipping test procedures. There are a myriad of standards that provide specifications for corrugated box testing. UNE, EN, ISO, MIL, ASTM, ISTA and many other organizations include corrugated box testing equipment in their testing protocols.

>ISTA 2A

A partial simulation test for individual packaged-products. Part of the ISTA packaging standards, this corrugated box testing method evaluates the performance of a packaged-product in an international distribution context. The method is often used to compare different product design alternatives. 

>ASTM D642 -15: Standard Test Method for Determining Compressive Resistance of Shipping Containers, Components, and Unit Loads

This corrugated box testing procedure evaluates the ability of shipping containers, components, and unit loads to endure the compressive forces that tipically take place in  storage and distribution contexts.

You might be interested: ASTM Standards list for packaging and distribution 

>ISO 13820: 1994

An international standard that describes the essential characteristics and principles of calibration of compression testers to carry out test methods of corrugated cardboard boxes, paper or fibreboard .

>TAPPI T804

A compression method that measures the capacity of corrugated or solid fiber shipping containers to resist external compressive forces. This compression test for corrugated boxes can be applied with an empty sample or taking the whole product + packaging system into account.

Are you looking to perform corrugated box testing and don’t know where to begin? At Safe Load Testing Technologies we have a track record of over two decades in the packaging sector and transport simulation, and we have already helped many companies optimize their packages. Get in touch with us and let’s start working so you can benefit from all the advantages that a corrugated box testing methods has to offer.

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