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ISTA Test Procedure 3F is a simulation test designed to evaluate the protective performance of individually packaged products as part of a mixed pallet load, from a distribution center to a retail point of sale.

The ISTA 3F test procedure aims to evaluate individual packaged products weighing 100 pounds (45 kg) or less. The test seeks to replicate the vibrations, shocks, and other stresses that products experience during handling and transportation. However, it is important to note that the test levels are based on general data and may not represent a specific retail distribution system.

Before the test, the shipper must determine the criteria for product damage, the allowable damage tolerance level, and the methodology for determining the condition of the product and packaging at the end of the test.
For ISTA Test Procedure 3F, six (6) samples of the actual packaging and product are required. If the actual items are not available, suitable substitutes that closely resemble the actual items must be used.

To ensure accurate representation of the performance of the packaged product, ISTA recommends performing the test procedure five or more times using new samples for each test. Although the procedure is mandatory to be performed once, replication testing allows for a more comprehensive evaluation.

Packages that have already been subjected to the rigors of transportation cannot be considered representative of standard conditions. To ensure testing under perfect conditions, products and packaging shipped to certified laboratories must either be overpacked for shipment or be reconditioned in new packaging at the laboratory.

Test Sequence:
The tests in ISTA Test Procedure 3F must be performed in the following sequence:

  • Climatic preconditioning,
  • Climatic conditioning,
  • Compression,
  • Drop/shock test,
  • Random vibration with and without load,
  • Drop/shock test.

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