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ASTM D1185 - Pallet & Shipping Structure Test Methods

ASTM D1185 - Standard Test Methods for Pallets and Related Structures Employed in Materials Handling and Shipping:

ASTM D1185 is a standardized test method in the industry for pallets and other structures used in material handling and shipping. It establishes a unified framework for evaluating the structural performance of pallets, ranging from their strength to their rigidity and overall durability. These methods are used to design pallets and compare the efficiency of different pallet constructions.

The ASTM D1185 test method encompasses several key features, each designed to evaluate different characteristics of a pallet:

Static compression and bending tests: These tests aim to estimate the rigidity, strength, and safe working loads of pallets under specified conditions. The data from these tests serve as a basis for pallet design and for comparing the performance of different pallet designs and constructions.

Dynamic tests: These tests are conducted to estimate the physical durability and functionality of a pallet in specified material handling and shipping environments. The data from these tests are useful for designing both single-use and reusable pallets.

Material-specific tests: Additional tests may be conducted to evaluate the specific properties of materials and fastening devices. This is relevant for different pallet materials such as solid wood, plastics, or metal, as well as for various design features or usage applications.

The ASTM D1185 test method encompasses the overall performance of pallets and related structures that serve as bases, platforms, and bins in material handling and shipping. The primary objective is to measure the resistance of these units to deformation, damage, and structural failures that could impair their functionality.

The test methods described in ASTM D1185 include:

  • Conditioning requirements
  • Static rigidity and strength tests
  • Dynamic structural reliability tests

These tests are used to evaluate the relative performance of new, used, or reconditioned pallets, whether for general or special use, manufactured from different materials such as solid wood, wood composites, fiberboard, honeycomb structures, plastics, or metal.

The ASTM D1185 test methods are also used to classify pallets as single-use or reusable and determine safe working loads under specified conditions. This includes preliminary tests to understand the conditions in which the pallet is subjected to the most severe stresses, and these tests include short-term static tests and free-fall tests during the prototype development phase.

Regarding acceptance testing, the same pallet should be used for all static and dynamic tests, if possible. For special-use pallets, only tests representing the intended use conditions need to be performed. If a pallet design passes these acceptance tests, it is also recommended to subject them to field testing in the distribution environment.

However, these test methods are not intended to precisely simulate the performance of pallets in the distribution environment. While designed to be practical, reproducible, and safe, laboratory tests cannot always account for all the complexities of real-world conditions. Therefore, conducting tests in the distribution environment is advised to validate the results of laboratory testing.

In addition to the tests described in ASTM D1185, specific evaluations of materials and fastening devices are conducted using various standardized test methods.

Material-specific tests:

  • ASTM D2395 - Standard Test Methods for Density and Specific Gravity (Relative Density) of Wood and Wood-Based Materials: This standard allows the evaluation of density and specific gravity of wood and wood-based materials, which can provide useful data on material strength and load-bearing capacity.
  • ASTM D4442 - Standard Test Methods for Direct Moisture Content Measurement of Wood and Wood-Based Materials: This standard measures the moisture content of wood and wood-based materials. Moisture content can influence material performance in terms of strength, durability, and susceptibility to decay or mold.
  • ASTM D4444 - Standard Test Method for Laboratory Standardization and Calibration of Hand-Held Moisture Meters: This standard pertains to the calibration and standardization of hand-held moisture meters used in wood and wood-based materials testing.
  • T 208 OM - Concentration of Hydrogen Ions (pH) in Paper Extracts, Cold Extraction Method: This is a test by the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI). It is used to determine the pH of paper extracts, a property that can affect the longevity and performance of paper-based materials in pallets.

Tests for fastening devices:

  • ASTM D1761 - Standard Test Methods for Mechanical Fasteners in Wood: This standard provides a method for testing the performance of mechanical fasteners in wood, such as nails or screws, to ensure their strength and suitability for use in pallet construction.
  • ASTM F680 - Standard Test Methods for Nails: This standard covers various test procedures for nails, including bending tests and penetration tests.
  • ASTM F1575 - Standard Test Method for Determining Bending Elastic Properties of Nails: This test method is used to determine the bending elastic properties of nails, a measure of the load a nail can withstand before permanently bending.
  • ASTM F1667 - Standard Specification for Driven Fasteners: Nails, Spikes, and Staples: This standard covers a variety of fasteners that can be used in pallet construction and provides specifications for their size, finish, and physical properties.

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