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The ISTA 7D Test Procedure is a development test method designed to evaluate the effects of external temperature exposures on individually packaged products. This test focuses on determining the packaging's ability to protect its contents from varied temperature conditions and is not intended to evaluate the protection offered to packaged products against shocks, vibrations, or compression.

The ISTA 7D Test Procedure can be used for the development and performance analysis of temperature-controlled shipping packages made from any material. This includes individual or comparative performance analysis of standard or insulated shipping packages against commonly encountered conditions.

The test considers both the product and its packaging, treating them as a single entity rather than separate components. The cycle profiles in the 7D Procedure serve as general simulations and are not intended to represent worst-case temperature exposure scenarios.

Numerous factors influence the thermal and distribution performance of packaging, as well as the extremes of the ambient exposure profile encountered in the distribution environment for each distribution situation. Therefore, it is crucial to note that if testing is conducted for compliance with specific standards, governmental, industrial, laboratory, validation, or regulatory guidelines that complement or supersede this procedure, it is the responsibility of the user to understand these requirements and apply the appropriate procedure accordingly.

The International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) strongly recommends using the ISTA 7E Procedure instead of the ISTA 7D Procedure. This recommendation is based on the fact that ISTA 7E was developed after an exhaustive survey of temperature ranges encountered in the parcel delivery system and is considered the best and most up-to-date simulation of the thermal environment.

ISTA recommends that once packaging has demonstrated acceptable thermal performance in a series of screening or exploratory tests using ISTA 7D, further general simulation testing should be conducted that simulates the expected extremes in the transit environment. For packaged products that may be shipped through a small parcel delivery system, the ISTA 3A General Simulation Performance Test Procedure should be considered. For thermal testing of insulated shipping containers in the parcel delivery system, ISTA 7E should be considered.

Prior to testing, the shipper should determine the exact temperature limits for the product, both high and/or low for the product, and any acceptable time for excursions above or below these temperature limits. Samples should be the actual, untested product and packaging, but if either is not available, substitutes should closely match the actual items as much as possible. Substituted products should mimic the content, composition, thermal mass, consistency, and other physical properties of the actual product as closely as possible.

While ISTA requires the procedure to be performed once, it is recommended to perform the test three or more times using new samples for each test. This is done to allow for adequate determination of the representative performance of the packaged product.

Packages that have already been subjected to the rigors of transportation cannot be assumed to represent standard conditions. To ensure testing under pristine conditions, products and packaging shipped to certified testing laboratories should either be overpacked for shipment to the laboratory or be repackaged in a new container at the laboratory.

By utilizing the 7D Test Procedure or the recommended ISTA 7E, manufacturers, distributors, and shippers can better understand and prepare for the potential effects of temperature changes on their products during transit, thereby ensuring product integrity and safety.

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