ISTA 3B Package Testing

The ISTA Procedure 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. These systems process different types of packages from different shippers and the loads are intended for different destinations. This type of shipment is considered LTL.

ISTA’s 3B Procedure addresses four package types. Standard packages are packages that are 200 pounds or less. Flat packages and elongated packages can be considered standard packages. There is also a classification of standard packages for packages over 200 pounds including flat and elongated. Cylindrical packages are included in this procedure. The last type is palletized or skidded.

These packages can be individual containers, bulk container or unitized loads. To qualify they must incorporate a base or platform which allows the entry of lift truck forks. Below is an overview of the ISTA 3B packaging test standards.

Elongated packages are defined as standard or cylindrical packages where the longest dimension is 36 inches or greater. Plus, the other dimensions of the package must be 20% or less of the longest dimension. Flat packages are a standard package where the shortest dimension is eight inches or less. Plus, the next longest dimension is four or more times larger than the shortest dimension. The last requirement for a package to be considered flat is that the volume has to be 800 cubed inches or greater.

In situations where a package meets the requirements of both a flat and elongated package, the package should be tested as if it is elongated.

Non-rigid containers are any standard, palletized or skidded container that meets one of the following criteria. First, the outer packaging may offer insufficient protection from concentrated low-level impacts. Another criterion is that the design has large unsupported spans of outer packaging material. The third possible criteria is the outer packaging utilizes a stretch or shrink-wrap design, uses a thin-flute or light-grade corrugated board or uses a paper wrap or similar lightweight material only. The last criteria is that the outer package wall is in direct contact with the product.

ISTA 3B spells out the specific tests for each type of package. The tests and sequences will vary by the package type. Most packages will need to undergo condition, shock testing and vibration testing. The shock testing can include tip over, free-fall drop, concentrated impact, full rotational drop, concentrated edge impact, incline impact, bridged impact and drop on a hazard. The vibration testing can include random with a top load and random without a top load.

Included below is a series of charts that outline the test sequences for each type of product in ISTA 3B testing used for package validation:

Sequence #Test CategoryTest TypeTest LevelFor ISTA Certification
1Atmospheric Preconditioning TEST BLOCK 1Temperature and HumidityAmbientRequired
2Atmospheric Preconditioning TEST BLOCK 1Controlled Temperature and HumidityTemperature and Humidity chosen from chartOptional
3Shock TEST BLOCK 2Tip/Tip OverUses a 22 degree tip angleRequired
4Shock TEST BLOCK 3Free-Fall Drop6 drops-height varies with packaged-product weightRequired
5Vertical Vibration TEST BLOCK 7Random with Top LoadOverall G level of 0.54Required
6Shock TEST BLOCK 10Concentrated ImpactImpact mass free-fall drop, guided drop, or pendulum, 15 in (380mm)Required only for Non-Rigid Containers
7Shock TEST BLOCK 11Free-Fall Drop6 drops-height varies with packaged-product weightRequired
8Shock TEST BLOCK 16Full Rotational Drop1 DropRequired only for Elongated packages
9Shock TEST BLOCK 17Bridged ImpactHazard Box dropped 16 in (410 mm)Required only for Elongated packages
10Shock TEST BLOCK 16Full Rotational Drop2 DropsRequired only for Flat packages
11Shock TEST BLOCK 18Concentrated Edge ImpactHazard Box dropped 16 in (410 mm)Required only for Flat packages

Keystone Package Testing is an expert at ISTA 3B shipping tests. We have significant experience and streamline the test process. Our team of engineers and technicians assist when failures occur by making design and material changes. We are a e-commerce package and an ISTA-certified test lab and pride ourselves on accurate reports that are produced in a timely manner. Contact us to see why so many companies partner with Keystone to achieve their ISTA 3B transit testing needs.


Other ISTA Standards: