Packaged Products for Parcel Delivery System Shipment 150 lbs (68 kg) or Less

ISTA 3A tests packaged products for parcel delivery system shipment weighing 150 lbs or less. This test is used to simulate courier companies’ shipping environments. ISTA 3A is often required by .COM retailers.

Micom offers ISTA 3A testing as part of its Package testing services.  Alternatively, the ASTM D4169 can also be considered.

ISTA 3A Uses and Factors to Be considered

ISTA 3A | Packaging Testing | Micom LaboratoriesISTA 3A is a general simulation test for individually packaged products that will challenge the capability of the package and products to withstand distribution hazards in the small parcel delivery system.  Packages to be tested to that standard must weigh less than 150 lbs. This test separates packages by shape into four categories. The four shapes are standard, small, flat and elongated.  The tests and the test conditions change as a function of the package shape.  While testing to ISTA 3A, the package and product are considered together and not separately, i.e.: they both need to be tested together.  Test samples can be tested under specific atmospheric transit conditions such as moisture, low temperature or low pressure (simulating altitude).  Should you have any questions or need help please contact our material testing lab. Our test experts will be happy to work with you to tailor the best possible packaging test plan for your needs.

ISTA 3A requires a minimum of 1 sample to be tested.  For final packaging design purposes a higher number of samples is recommended; ideally 5 or more.  However only testing one is mandatory to establish compliance.

Test Sequence

The tests shall be performed on each test sample in the sequence indicated in the following table:

ISTA 3A – Standard Packaged Product Test

Sequence #Test CategoryTest TypeTest LevelFor ISTA Certification
1Atmospheric Preconditioning


Temperature and humidityAmbientRequired
2Atmospheric  Conditioning


Controlled temperature and humidityTemperature and humidity chosen from chartOptional


Drop9 drops – height varies with packaged-product weightRequired
4 Vibration

TEST BLOCKS 4 & 7 for Standard

TEST BLOCKS 5 & 7 for Pails and Short Cylinders

Random with and without  top loadOverall Gmrs levels of 0.53 and 0.46Required


Random Vibration Under Low PressureTruck or Truck & Air dependentOptional


Drop8 drops – height varies with packaged-product weight. Includes drop on hazardRequired

The table above is for standard size packages.  As outlined above, it will change as a function of the package shape.

Typical Experimental Parameters

Number of specimens/product: 1 (min.) Maximum sample weight: 150 lbs

The video below shows drop test #3 of the ISTA 3A standard. This test includes 9 drops with a set height based on the weight of the package.

Other Related Test Methods

For additional related test methods please see; ISTA TestingPackage Testing or ASTM Packaging.

We hope that you found the information above about the ISTA 3A test valuable. If you have any questions about packaging testing or if you would like to discuss a custom package test for your products, we invite you to contact us today. It will be our pleasure to answer your questions.

We invite you to learn more about our package testing services by consulting and downloading our Package Testing Laboratory brochure below.

Package Testing Brochure