ASTM D3101 Standard Test Method for Thermal Insulation Performance of Distribution Packages

ASTM D3101 helps to determine the quality of thermal insulation in a package. It tests the contents thermal stability when it is subject to different temperatures. The packages evaluated by this test are generally used for high-value, high-risk materials. It also provides information on performance when a package needs to be regulated at a certain temperature throughout distribution. There are a lot of factors that can affect the results of the test such as energy source, contents, exterior package, etc. For this reason, it is important to try to use the actual package for testing. Simulation packages are not preferred.

A minimum of three samples should be tested. The test specimen should be those used in production. However, experimental package designs (or prototypes) may be used if their specifications are close to the actual package. For the test, the package should be closed and sealed as it usually is. All packages should be conditioned for a minimum of 24 hours prior to testing. Preconditioning is not a requirement for all test procedures.

The conditions and apparatuses required for ASTM D3103 are:

  • Temperature profile of exterior atmosphere
  • Field data time-temperature profile
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Contractual requirements
  • Constant temperature
  • Test chamber
  • Test chamber controller
  • Single or multi-channel data acquisition unit (DAU)
  • Calibration Reference Standard
  • Constant Temperature Bath

To begin testing, the sensors should be calibrated. Place the sensors in a stable temperature bath to ensure the sensors are working correctly and providing accurate information. If it is possible, the sensors should be placed directly on or inside the package prior to conditioning. Then, condition the package according to the predetermined standards. If cooling and heating elements are used that could come in direct contact with the sensors (ex: dry ice) and the sensors are on the outside of the package, then the package should be covered to eliminate direct contact. The package(s) should then be placed in an environmental chamber that is set to the desired atmosphere. It is important that the package does not touch any walls or the floor of the chamber. If testing multiple packages, they should be separated by at least 6 inches. They should be placed in the same orientation that they will be in throughout shipment. The data should be collected and verified for accuracy. It is important to check the sensors again throughout the test to make sure that they are operating with accuracy. The data should be recorded for reporting. The testing laboratory will complete a report. The report should include all the relevant information and data collected during testing and follow the guidelines of ASTM D3103.

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