Impact simulation tests are essential for testing the resistance of goods to the impacts that take place during the transportation and shipping phase. These tests arise from the need to reproduce and quantify the impacts, shocks and accelerations suffered by goods during their shipping and handling, in order to optimize as much as possible the design of the packaging and reduce losses.


What does ‘impact simulation’ mean in packaging?


Impact simulations reproduce, under laboratory conditions, the impacts that the goods may be subjected to during their handling. In order to accomplish this, it takes advantage of various machines that apply different operational principles, subjecting the load to different tests, such as dropping the goods from a certain height, mounting the load on a cart and crashing it, or leaving it stationary and bumping a mobile object into it.

During the transportation cycle, goods may receive impacts on various parts (sides, corners or vertices). Therefore, impact simulation machinery enables objects to be affixed to the impact surface (such as bars or rigid edged objects), or the modification of the impact surface itself, in order to reproduce real collisions.

There are several impact simulation tests in existence, with the most common being:

  • Drop impact test: they involve dropping the goods from a certain height in order to test their impact resistance.
  • Impact tests: the goods are crashed at a certain speed against a surface. The cart on which the load is travelling may also be crashed, bumping it on the cart. A third kind of impact test involves affixing the goods and impacting them with a mobile object.

These kinds of tests reproduce the various types of impacts packages may receive throughout the entire transportation cycle. In addition,
these tests comply with specifications established in different impact simulation test standards. Specifically, the following are the drop test standards and impact standards that they comply with:

  • Horizontal impact tests: ASTM D880, ASTM D4004, ISO 2244 and ASTM D5277
  • Drop impact tests: ISO 2248, ASTM D5276 and ASTM D6179

“Impact simulations reproduce, under laboratory conditions, the impacts that the goods may be subjected to during their transportation”

Drop impact tester

Differences between impact tests and drop impact tests

The main difference between impact tests and drop impact tests is that the testing methods and machines employed for them are different. In the case of impact tests, generally, the
goods are fixed on a cart that is accelerated to a certain speed and crashed against the impact surface. The cart may travel over a horizontal surface, or on an incline; however, other types of machines exist, such as those that use a pendulum motion or others in which the load is fixed and it is impacted by a mobile object.

On the other hand, drop test methods consist of raising the goods up to a certain height and dropping them, smashing them against the impact surface, which is usually the floor. Despite the tests and machines are different, in some cases the same type of impact may be reproduced. For example, for an equal speed and impact surface, results would be the same for a drop impact test and for an inclined impact test, since the box is the one that is in motion and impacts against the surface.

Even though the testing mechanisms and machinery employed to that end may differ, the purpose of these types of tests is the same: predicting damages that the goods may suffer during travel, avoiding shrinkage and decreasing costs. Therefore, the benefits of performing an impact simulation test are many:

  • Not depending on third parties to improve the design of a product or packaging
  • Being able to perform more thorough and stringent analyses on the damages suffered by the goods or packaging
  • Reducing shrinkage during the transportation cycle
  • Reducing packaging expenses

“The main difference between impact tests and drop impact tests is that the testing methods and machines employed for them are different”

Safe Load Testing Technologies, experts in drop test standards

At Safe Load we are experts in the
manufacturing of impact simulation testing machines. Specifically, we have three of the most advanced systems on the market for that purpose:

  • Inclined impact tester and Horizontal impact tester: both machines simulate horizontal impacts that affect the stability and safety of the load, which are caused by different means of transportation. In the case of the Horizontal impact tester, it can be also used to test the horizontal accelerations and decelerations which take place on various means of transport and how goods react to them. This includes situations in which the load may topple without any impact required, by being subjected to a high acceleration and not being sufficiently stable (for example, due to high-speed turns or hard braking).
  • Drop tester: this system simulates the drops that affect packages and products during the transportation and distribution cycle. More specifically, this machine can simulate flat, edge and corner falls.

One of the most basic impact parameters we can control with these machines is the impact speed and, in the case of the Horizontal Impact Tester, through the use of a nitrogen pneumatic actuator, other impact parameters can be controlled as well, such as the shape of the pulse wave, the duration of the pulse or the maximum acceleration.

These impact simulation systems are an excellent option for any company wishing to analyze the risks the goods are exposed to during the shipping and handling phase, with the purpose of optimizing their packaging as much as possible. One such example is DuoPlast, which manufactures stretch film and bought a horizontal impact machine from Safe Load. Thanks to the Horizontal Impact Tester, they have managed to boost their customer loyalty by providing them with adequate advice on how to wrap the goods to achieve an optimal stability.

If you want to obtain the same results as DuoPlast and offer the best service to your customers, get in touch with us and we will help you choose the system you need for your impact simulation tests.

You can also download for free our ebook Calculate the ROI of investing in packaging testing machines and learn how much you can save with your own transport simulation equipment.