ISTA TESTING - HOW DO WE APPROACH IT?
Over the last 28 years or so, the ISTA has created a very robust system of tests which provide a good forecast as to how well your package will survive the rigors of shipping and handling.
ISTA 1 group procedures
ISTA 1 group procedures were created back in the years when labs had only mechanical vibration machines, bomb bay drop testers and compression machines were relatively basic. As testing machines evolved to computer controls, servo hydraulic vibration and shock machines, the test procedures evolved accordingly.
If you are asked to perform a basic, general, low cost shipping test to evaluate an individual package under 150 lbs, look no further!
ISTA 1A is the answer.
It has 2 parts: A. vibration on a mechanical vibration table with a 1 inch amplitude (also called Mechanical Vibration) for close to 1 hour, and B. 10 Free Fall Drops in a specific sequence and from a specified height (between heights of 8" and 30", the heavier the package, the lower the drop height). This ISTA test procedure is somewhat "out of fashion" - you could perform it if you (or your customer) cannot afford a more advanced test procedure. This procedure may also yield a "false fail" outcome on your package, causing you to spend If you have access to a Random Vibration table, ISTA 1G will allow you to do a better test, following the same methodology and sequence. If you have access to a Compression Tester and need to evaluate the compression strength of a package, then ISTA 1C is your game - it includes Compression Testing.
ISTA 1B is for Individual packages over 150 lbs, and has 3 parts: A. Vibration (as above)
B. your choice of Free Fall Drops from 6" height, or Inclined Impacts to an impact speed of 69 IPS (inches per second) on all 4 sides and C. Raised Edge Drops from 8". This one is also slightly "out of fashion" and if you can afford to do an ISTA 3B you will be much closer to realistic test results.
ISTA 1C is used for individual packages less than 150 lbs. It is very similar to ISTA 1A with the addition of a Compression Test. In part A. there is the option to use a Random Vibration or Mechanical Vibration test, in part B. there is the option to use Free Fall Drops or Inclined Impacts, in part C. there is the option to use Apply and Hold or Apply and Release, or using plain Dead Weights on a Load Distributing Plate. This is apparently a more modern version of the good old ISTA 1A, still quite simple but using "modern testing machines".
ISTA 1D is very similar approach to testing individual (meaning "not unitized") packages over 150 lbs. It has 4 parts: A. Compression Test (with 3 choices) B. Vibration (Mechanical or Random) C. Shock Test (Free Fall Drops or Inclined Impacts) and D. Raised Edge Drops.
ISTA 1E is intended for unitized loads on pallet or skid secured together for shipping, regardless of weight. It has 3 parts: A. Vibration (Mechanical Vertical or Random);
B. Shock (Inclined Impact speed at impact 69 IPS) and C. Raised Edge Drops from 8"
Our comment: While these test procedures are relatively simple to perform, they are not the preferred choice of shippers, particularly of high value mechanical and/or electronic goods. The random Vibration profiles are quite aggressive, Free Fall drops abuse one side of the package and favor the opposite side considerably. All in all, in order to pass these tests you may have to overspend on packaging materials.