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Package testing or packaging testing involves the measurement of a characteristic or property involved with packaging. This includes packaging materials, packaging components,  primary packages, shipping containersand unit loadsas well as the associated processes. Testing measures the effects and interactions of the levels of packaging, the package contents, external forces, and end-use.
It can involve controlled laboratory experimentssubjective evaluations by people, or field testing. Testing can be a qualitative or quantitative procedure. Package testing is often a physical test.
With some types of packaging such as food and pharmaceuticals, chemical tests are conducted to determine suitability of food contact materials. Testing programs range from simple tests with little replication to more thorough experimental designs. Package testing can extend for the full life cycle.
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Packages 4d991 be tested for their ability to be recycled and their ability to degrade as surface litterin a sealed landfill or under composting conditions. For some types of products, package testing is mandated by regulations: This may cover both the design qualification, periodic retesting, and control of the packaging processes.
Processes may be controlled by a variety of quality management systems such as HACCP c4991, statistical process controlvalidation protocols, ISOetc.
For unregulated products, testing can be required by a contract or governing specification. The degree of package testing can often be a business decision. Risk management may involve factors such as. With distribution packaging, one vital packaging development consideration is to determine if a packaged-product is likely to be damaged in the process of getting to the final customer. A primary purpose of a package is to ensure r4991 safety of a product during transportation and storage.
If a product axtm damaged during this process, then the package has failed to accomplish a primary objective and the customer will either return the product or be unlikely to purchase the product altogether. Package testing is often a ast, part of Project management programs.
Packages are usually tested when there is a new packaging design, a revision to a current design, a change in packaging material, and various other reasons.
Testing a new packaging design before full scale manufacturing can save time and money. Many suppliers or vendors offer limited material and package testing as a free service to customers. It is common for packagers to partner with reputable suppliers: Many suppliers have certified quality management systems such as ISO or allow customers to conduct technical and quality audits.
Data from testing is commonly shared. There is sometimes a risk that supplier testing may tend to be self-serving and not completely impartial. Large companies often have their own packaging staff and a package testing and development laboratory. Corporate engineers know their products, manufacturing capabilities, logistics system, and their customers best. Cost reduction of existing products and cost avoidance for new products have been documented.
Another option is to use a paid consultantIndependent contractorand third-party independent testing laboratory. They are commonly chosen for specialized expertise, for access to certain test equipment, for surge projects, or where independent testing is otherwise required. Many have certifications and accreditations: Several standards organizations publish test methods for package testing.
Governments and regulators publish some packaging test methods.
f4991 There are also many corporate test standards in use. A review of technical literature and patents provides good options to consider for test procedures. Researchers are not restricted to the use atsm published standards but can modify existing test methods or develop procedures specific to their particular needs. If a test is conducted with a deviation from a published test method or if a new method is employed, the test report must fully disclose the procedure.
The basis of packaging design and performance is the component materials.
The physical propertiesand sometimes chemical propertiesof the materials need to be communicated to packaging engineers to aid in the design process. Suppliers publish data sheets and other technical communications that include the typical or average relevant physical properties and the test method these are based upon.
Sometimes these are adequate. Other times, additional material and component testing is required by the packager or supplier to better define certain characteristics.
When a final package design is complete, the specifications for the component materials needs to be communicated to suppliers. Packaging materials testing is often needed to identify the critical material characteristics and engineering tolerances. These are used to prepare and enforce specifications. For example, shrink film data might include: Average and process capability are often provided.
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The chemical properties related for use as Food contact materials may be necessary. Some types of package testing do not use scientific instruments but use people for the evaluation. The regulations for child-resistant packaging require a test protocol that involves children. Samples of the test packages are given to a prescribed population of children. With specified child panels, a high percentage must be unable to open a test package within 5 minutes. Consumer ast are often evaluated by focus groups.
People evaluate the package features in a room monitored by video cameras. The consumer responses are treated qualitatively for feedback into the new packaging process. Some food packagers use organoleptic evaluations.
People use their senses taste, smell, etc. A new package may be evaluated in a test market that uses people to try the packages at home. Consumers have the opportunity to buy a product, perhaps with a coupon or discount. Return postcards or Internet sites provide feedback to package developers. Perhaps the most critical feedback is repeated sales items in the new package. Packaging evaluations are an important part of marketing research. Legibility of text on packaging and labels is always subjective due to the inherent variations of people.
Efforts have been made to help better quantify this by people in a laboratory: Some laboratory tests are conducted but still result in an observation by people. Some test procedures call for a judgment by test engineers whether or not pre-established acceptance criteria have been met. The environmental conditions of testing are critical. The measured performance of many packages is affected by the conditioning and testing atmospheres.
For example, paper based products are strongly affected by their moisture content: Relative humidity needs to be controlled.
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Plastic products are often strongly affected by temperature. Engineering tolerances for the conditions are also specified. Often the package is conditioned to the specified environment and tested under those conditions. This can asm in a conditioned room or in a chamber enclosing the test.
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With some testing, the package is conditioned to a specified environment, then is removed to ambient conditions and quickly tested. The test report needs to state the actual conditions used. Engineers have found it important to know the effects of the full range of expected conditions on package performance.
This can be through investigating published technical literature, obtaining supplier documentation, or by conducting controlled tests at diverse conditions. Laboratory tests can help determine the shelf life of a package and its contents under a variety of conditions.
This is particularly important for foods, pharmaceuticals, some chemicals, and a variety of products. The testing is usually product specific: Exposures to expected and elevated temperatures and humidities are commonly used for shelf life testing.
The ability of packaging to control product degradation is frequently a subject of laboratory and field evaluations. Many products degrade with exposure to the atmosphere: The ability of a package to control the permeation and penetration of gasses is vital for many types of products.
Tests are often conducted on the packaging materials but also on the completed packages, sometimes after being subjected to flexing, handling, vibration, or temperature. Packages can degrade with exposure to temperature, humidity, time, sterlization steam, radiation, gas, etc. For some types of packaging, it is common to test for possible corrosion of metals, polymer degradationand weather testing of polymers.
Several types of accelerated aging of packaging and materials can be accomplished in a laboratory.
Exposure to elevated temperatures accelerates some degradation mechanisms. An Arrhenius equation is often used to correlate certain chemical reactions at different temperatures, based on the proper choice of Q 10 coefficients.
Vacuum chambers are used to test the ability of a package to withstand low pressures. This can be to:. Both primary consumer packages and shipping containers have a risk of being dropped or being impacted by other items.
Package integrity and product protection are important packaging functions. Tests are conducted to measure the resistance of packages and products to controlled laboratory shock and impact. Testing also determines the effectiveness of package cushioning to isolate fragile products from shock.