ASTM F2096 Standard Test Method for Detecting Gross Leaks in Packaging by Internal Pressurization (Bubble Test)

The purpose of ASTM F2096 is to detect gross leaks in tray and pouch packages. These packages will be placed underwater and inflated to a certain pressure. Once that pressure is reached, the package will be observed for a steady stream of bubbles which will indicate that the package has failed. The designated pressure will be determined prior to testing and it is imperative that the pressure be repeatable for multiple accurate tests. The pressure must not be too high- causing a rupture, or too low. It is recommended that a bleed-off control valve is used to assist in stabilizing pressure. There are two separate test methods depending on if the package is porous or nonporous.

This test method provides users with the ability to examine packages for gross leaks. The internal pressurization test is used to evaluate package integrity. Package integrity will benefit the consumer because they can safely receive packages that have been intended to remain sterile or contamination free through heat seal.

There are three (3) apparatus used for ASTM F2096

  1. Pressure Delivery System- the system should have a gage to monitor the pressure, bleed-off control valve. The system should be able to deliver the pressure at 0-50 mbar.
  2. Device for Puncturing Package- this will allow the air source and monitoring device to be inserted into the package
  3. Water Container- the container of water must be large enough to cover the entire package with about one (1) inch of water

The number of test specimen required for this test is the number that will provide an adequate representation of performance. There is no conditioning required for this test procedure.

Test Method A- Nonporous Packaging:

Insert the air source and pressure monitor into the package through a hole. Seal the hole so that it has minimal air leakage. Then, submerge the package in water and begin inflating the package. The package should remain at least 1 inch under water. In most cases, it is helpful to use some device or fixture to maintain the desired depth of the package throughout the test. Slowly inflate the package and inspect for a stream of bubbles coming out of the package. Repeat the test on the opposite side of the package.

Test Method B- Porous Packaging:

Insert the air source and pressure monitor into the package through a hole. Seal the hole so that it has minimal air leakage. Then, submerge the package in at least 1 inch of water and hold for a minimum of 5 seconds. This will allow the porous package to adjust. Then, begin inflating the package. The package should remain at least 1 inch under water. In most cases, it is helpful to use some device or fixture to maintain the desired depth of the package throughout the test. Slowly inflate the package and inspect for a stream of bubbles coming out of the package. Repeat the test on the opposite side of the package.

At the conclusion of testing, the laboratory will compile a comprehensive report that follows the guidelines of ASTM F2096.

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