Using a compression tester allows companies to predict the resistance of packages to compression forces, thereby being able to calculate the protection that they can provide to a load.

This means that a compressometer makes it easier to optimize packages based on the situations that are expected to take place during the transportation and storage of the load, saving in packaging and distribution costs.

What is a compression tester and what technology does it use?

A compressometer is a piece of testing equipment that is able to precisely measure how compression forces cause deformations in the goods during their transportation and storage.

Using a compression tester lets you subject loads to compression forces and measure their deformation, making it possible to observe how the material behaves under these circumstances.

The compressometer is used to perform package resistance tests or package compression tests (such as box compression tests) in creep tests or resistance tests, among others.

A compressometer’s technology

Compression testers have several mechanisms to perform package compression tests.

Their operation involves an actuator that is activated by an electric motor which moves the compression plate up or down by turning a screw.

In addition, the machine measures the motion of the pressure plate using a linear encoder with micrometric precision, and the force using a load cell. These two pieces of technology meet the accuracy requirements of international standards.

Compressometers are also equipped with safety features such as limit switches (which stop the moving part of the machine at the end of its track) and emergency stop switches (to stop the machine in dangerous situations).

Why use a compression tester? Real cases

There are various reasons for using a compression tester, all of them with a single purpose: to optimize a package to protect a load during transportation and storage.

First, among box compression test methods we can find the BCT (Box Compression Test), which consists of applying an increasingly stronger compression force to a load until it fails.

This allows box compression testing units to obtain a force-deformation curve that characterizes the resistance of a package, which will yield enough information to make decisions in relation to a package (such as, for example, opting for a more resistant package).  

There are also other box compression test methods, such as the Press & release tests (applying compression forces to a load and then releasing it, thereby verifying whether the packaging has been able to withstand it) or the Press & hold test (which applies forces to a load and maintains the pressure, to test its resistance under these situations).

The usefulness of package compression tests is made evident by the following example: let’s imagine that our company manufactures a delicate product which may be damaged during transportation and storage if weight is put on top of it.

The product, which has a mass of 10 kg., is placed in a package that – based on the results of a BCT test – can withstand up to 60kg without failing. Therefore, the client knows that up to 7 of these boxes can be stacked without crushing the one at the bottom. All of this, assuming that the product inside the box does not bear compression loads and that it is the package that withstands them.

However, we know that the company usually ships on pallets, stacking up to three levels. Which is to say, this package can withstand up to 60 kg without failing, but in practice, it only needs to withstand up to 20 kg. Its failure load is three times the real load that it needs to bear, so we will say that its safety factor is 3.

Once box compression tests are performed by using a compressometer, the company may study various strategies to optimize its packaging and save costs.

  • On one hand, they may decide to use less resistant packages (and cheaper). They may opt for boxes that can withstand up to 40kg – if they are conservative – or consider the use of boxes that withstand 30 kg., if their product is not too expensive and potential shrinkages are acceptable.
  • On the other hand, they may also save costs by making their shipments by stacking up to 4 or even 5 levels.

This means that, in order to make decisions regarding its packaging, the company had to know how its package behaves in relation to its distribution cycle, as well as its capabilities to protect the product.

Which standards does a compression tester comply with?

Package compression tests are contained in several international transportation and packaging standards. The use of a compression tester will allow you to comply with the standards of several organizations:

  • EN 15552:2008 packaging procedure: Complete, fillet transport packages and unit loads. Performance testing schedules for common distribution chains.
  • ASTM D4169-16 standards: Standard practice for performance testing of shipping containers and systems.
  • ISTA 1C, D; 2A, B; 3E, F, H; 4; 6-FEDEX; 6-SAMSCLUB, 6-AMAZON.COM procedures.

How does a compressometer help optimize your packaging?

The ultimate goal of using a compression tester will be to optimize the packaging.

In other words, box compression test units allow you to test how a package responds to a test and, when it does not guarantee the safety of a load, to modify it.

Package compression tests may be aimed at changing the secondary, primary or tertiary packaging. Optimizing the packaging or the processes within the distribution cycle will allow you to save costs and reduce the use of packaging materials, allowing for a more sustainable distribution that protects the environment.

The first step in this process will be to perform box compression tests to obtain any necessary information regarding how a package reacts to compression forces.

Safe Load Testing Technologies’ compressometer: advantages and characteristics

Safe Load’s compressometer allows for the performance of compression tests on shipping containers, pallets and single loads.

The innPress product line developed by Safe Load allows for a testing range of 25 kN to 200 kN, offers different testing platform sizes (from 1000x1000mm / 39.37x 39.37in. to 1500x1500mm / 59.06×59.06in.) and a ranges of motion (from 1300mm / 51.18in. to 2400mm / 94.5×94.5in.).

This will let you choose a compression tester based on the type of load that you are going to test.

In addition, it can perform tests at different temperatures – from -18ºC / -0.4°F to 65ºC / 149°F – and up to 98% humidity thanks to its environmental chamber.

Moreover, Safe Load TT can study the feasibility of manufacturing personalized designs tailored to the needs of a customer.

Safe Load’s compression tester has several features that make it a very advantageous option when performing package compression tests:

  • It has been designed with the user in mind, turning the use of a compressometer into an intuitive process: it is the machine that guides the user to achieve a successful test.
  • Safe Load has developed the compressometer’s design in such a way that the machine requires an occasional, simple maintenance.
  • Our machines include the most cutting-edge technology and comply with common standards in the packaging industry, mentioned above (EN 15552:2008; ASTM D4169-16; ISTA)

In this regard, the compressometer is part of the Amazon Lab, a set of 5 machines that allows for the performance of the ISTA and ISTA tests.

These tests will become essential requirements for sellers who wish to use Amazon’s distribution system, and this set of machines will let you pass them.

At Safe Load Testing Technologies we have a long track record developing packaging research projects.

For 20 years we have helped leading companies across the globe transport and store their products safely, anticipating potential damages to their loads, while also helping them reduce their costs.

Get in touch with us and we will help you protect your loads, optimize your packages and distribution process, and save.