Package Drop Test

Package Drop Integrity Testing

What is Package Drop Testing?

Drop testing, also known as dynamic impact testing or drop integrity testing, determines the effects of random drops and repeated impacts. These are due to handling, shipping, and other field service conditions.

Drop testing is a laboratory accelerated test designed to indicate structural and mechanical weaknesses not necessarily detected in shock and vibration tests. Drop testing can help determine the survivability of a product’s packaging.

Laboratory testing helps manufacturers identify potential warranty issues from poor packaging or improper handling before sending their products. Regardless of the method of shipment, air, sea, rail, or over the road, impacts are common.

Dynamic impacts may occur by several factors:

  • Collisions against other freight when loaded or unloaded from vehicles.
  • Bumps or jostling during sorting on conveyors.
  • Careless acts by any person in the distribution cycle.

Why is Package Drop Integrity Testing Important?

Drop package testing is a key component of a comprehensive quality control and risk management strategy for any business involved in shipping or handling goods. It ensures the physical integrity of products, leading to cost savings, enhanced customer satisfaction, and compliance with regulatory standards.

Product Protection

The primary purpose of drop package testing is to ensure that a product can survive the rigors of shipping and handling without sustaining damage. This involves dropping the package from various heights and angles to simulate real-world conditions.

Cost Efficiency

Damaged goods often result in returns, replacements, and refunds, all of which can significantly increase business costs. Effective packaging tested through drop tests can help reduce these costs.

Customer Satisfaction

If a customer receives a damaged product, it negatively affects their experience and can harm the reputation of the company. Ensuring products arrive in excellent condition helps improve customer satisfaction and brand image.

Regulatory Compliance

Certain industries have regulatory standards for packaging, especially for hazardous or delicate materials. Drop package testing helps ensure that these standards are met.

Packaging Drop Test Procedures

Keystone is an ISO 17025 accredited test lab capable of testing products to the package testing requirements of various drop testing standards.

ISTA 3A: Parcel Delivery

ISTA 3A package testing is a dynamics test for individual packaged products shipped through a parcel delivery system. The ISTA 3A testing standard is applicable for four different types of packages commonly distributed as individual packages, either by air or ground.

For packaged products, there are 2 to 4 drop procedures, ranging from 17 to 19 drops. Depending on the product weight, drop heights may vary.

ISTA 3B: Less-Than-Truckload

The ISTA 3B shipping procedure is designed to test packaged products for less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments. The procedure is a general simulation test for the packaged products shipped through a motor carrier delivery system.

ISTA 3B provides 6 different drop procedures in the test program. These drops include tip over, free-fall, fully rotational, and concentrated edge. Generally, the package is dropped from a height of 16 inches. However, this may vary from 3 to 16 inches depending on the test type.

ISTA 3E: Unitized Loads

ISTA Procedure 3E shipping tests are the tests designed for similarly packaged products in unitized loads for truckload shipments. This procedure covers the testing of unitized loads made up of either single or multiple products or packages of similar products.

This standard requires two rotational edge drops. The drop height varies with the packaged-product weight.

ISTA 3F: Distribution to Retail

ISTA 3F compliance testing is for packaged pallets in mixed pallet loads for regional shipments that are 100 pounds or less. This standard is a general simulation test for packaged products that are shipped as individual packages from a distribution center to a retail outlet.

The program has two drop test procedures. The unit is dropped at 12 and 30 inches for test block 3. For test block 5, the packaged product is dropped at 18 and 24 inches.

ASTM D5276: Drop of Loaded Containers

ASTM D5276 evaluates testing loaded boxes, cylindrical containers, and bags/sacks by the free-fall drop method. This standard applies to containers that are less than 110lbs. The standard also serves as a means to evaluate the container’s ability to protect its contents during the transportation cycle.

ASTM D5487: Simulated Drop by Shock Machines

ASTM D5487 covers the general procedures and sustainability of using shock machines to replicate the effects of vertical drops. ASTM D5487 applies to shipping containers and the interior packaging materials used to protect their contents from the hazards encountered in handling, transportation, and storage.

Don’t see the standard you are looking for? Please contact us for more information on how we can assist you with your drop test needs.

Expert Drop Testing Compliance Lab

Drop and impact testing are just two of the dynamic testing services that our lab is fully equipped to perform. Keystone Package Testing has an extensive scope of testing procedures for ASTM, ISTA, Amazon, and other package integrity test types such as accelerated aging, forklift handling, and vibration testing. We can also test flexible and rigid packaging of any size.

Have a question about drop integrity testing? Contact us and we will determine the best course of action. Request a quote to learn why we are one of the fastest-growing package test labs in the country.


Interested in the EMC/EMI, climatic, dynamic, shielding effectiveness, or IP Code testing of a product? Follow the corresponding links or for more information.