December 21, 2017

ASTM D4169 Gets Sleighed at PCL Test Lab

Why Santa Trusts PCL

You may not be aware, but Packaging Compliance Labs is the official test lab of The North Pole. Every year since our company was founded, Santa has been sending packages our way for testing before Christmas. Santa’s trip is wrought with peril, and he wants to make sure he doesn’t break little Billy’s or Susan’s hearts by leaving a broken toy under the tree. Seriously, who wants to deal with that sort of drama on Christmas? Not you, not Santa, and certainly not PCL.

Our Test Lab Sleighs Problems Fast

To get things right, the jolly man sends us some of the newest and most expensive toys he intends to deliver each year (thanks for the iPad, Santa!!). Identifying the “worst case” presents (i.e.. largest, heaviest, most delicate) and the possible configurations they might be boxed in is very important. We can’t possibly test every packaging configuration, so the FDA (Fun Delivery Administration) allows Santa to “bookend” the toys in a logical manner for testing. After Santa has worked with our skilled team of engineers to identify the worst-case packaging configurations, it’s time to run the ISTA transit simulation.

Or, the ASTM transit simulation, which typically begins with environmental conditioning. Delivering presents all over the world, Santa travels through arctic tundra, arid deserts and tropical climates. We want to give him the confidence that these conditions (and the transitions in between) don’t have a negative impact on the integrity of wrapping paper and bows.

Taking ASTM D4169 to Chimney Height

Once conditioning is complete, our next step is to simulate handling, you know, like getting dropped from a rooftop sleigh 30 feet off the ground? Presents get handled a lot between the workshop and the sleigh, and elves are notoriously clumsy. To make sure the little helpers don’t ruin Christmas, we perform several drops with the presents onto specified faces, edges and corners to test their durability.

After dropping presents, our next concern is how many presents are in Santa’s sleigh. He packs enough goodies into that thing to deliver toys to every good boy or girl (and coal to the naughty ones) in one trip. That means the toys at the bottom must endure the weight of all the toys on top of them. To have confidence that they can take the pressure, we run presents through a compression test simulating the weight that the bottom package might endure while traveling around the world.

Now comes the part where we literally shake things up. Santa lands his sleigh on a variety of surfaces, and the suspension on a sleigh is not very forgiving. To simulate landing on the ground or skimming across your roof, we run a variety of profiles on our trusty test lab vibration table. We also run a profile specific to flight, as Santa spends a significant amount of time flying between stops.

Santa Loves Our High Altitude Test Lab Capabilities

Speaking of flight, we also have the capabilities to run a high-altitude simulation in our ISO 17025-accredited test lab. Packages that don’t have the ability to ‘breathe” (e.g. sealed plastic or foil bags) need to be tested to avoid bursting while in transit. We place presents into our vacuum chamber and run a simulation of 14,000 feet in altitude for a duration of 60 mins. If nothing bursts or ruptures, the test is a success!

To keep true to the “real world” scenario that all of these presents might face, we finish everything off with another set of drops. This time it’s all on Santa – it can be quite a challenge to hold onto gifts while walking on a roof or sliding down a chimney. To have confidence that gifts can survive a long fall, the final drop is executed from twice the height of the previous drops.

Keep yourself off the naughty list this year by working with PCL for all of your conditioning and transit needs. We run transit studies every day to provide you with the confidence that your device will arrive safely at its destination.

Please note: no reindeer, elves or actual presents were harmed during the writing of this blog.