ISTA 3E  is the test of a unitized load of the same product. It is used for simulating shipping environments for pallet shippers. Micom offers ISTA 3E testing as part of our Package testing services. We can test pallets up to 60” by 96” and 5,000 lbs.

ISTA 3E Uses and Factors to Consider

ISTA 3E is a general simulation test for unitized loads of packaged products.  A unitized load is defined as one or more products or packaged-products usually on a skid or pallet, but always secured together or restrained for distribution as a single load. ASTM D4169 could also be used for this application. General Motors, for example, since February 2020, in its Specification GM 1738 NA rev.4.0 – GM Packaging and Identification Requirements For Production Parts – requires its suppliers to test their parts pallet loads per ASTM D-4169. They however do not specify the distribution cycle nor the Assurance Level. Since they also specify as an equivalent ISTA 3E, we can infer that what they require is actually ASTM D-4169, DC 6, level II.

This standard can be used to evaluate the protective performance of packaged products related to vibrations, shocks and other stresses normally encountered during handling and transportation.  It can also be used to evaluate load stability.  The test levels are based on general data and may not represent any specific distribution system.  For a more specific simulation; see ISTA 4AB or contact our experts. For pallet loads shipped through an LTL environment, please consider using ISTA 3B.

ISTA 3E – Random Vibration Test

Unitized Loads of same product calls for a complete test sequence including a random vibration test.

While testing to ISTA 3E, the package and product are considered together and not separately, i.e.: they both need to be tested together. Some conditions of transit, such as moisture, pressure.

ISTA 3E 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.

Should you wish to have a more specific test, our services can be as specific as recording vibrations and shocks on actual shipments and then reproducing them in our laboratory under controlled yet accelerated conditions.

ISTA 3E  Test Sequence

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

Sequence # Test Category Test Type Test Level For ISTA Certification
1 Atmospheric Preconditioning Temperature and Humidity Ambient Required
2 Atmospheric Conditioning Controlled Temperature and Humidity Temperature and Humidity chosen from chart Optional
3 Shock (Alternative methods allowed – select one test type) Incline Impact (Conbur) 42 in per second (1.1 m per second) Required
Horizontal Impact 42 in per second (1.1 m per second)
4 Shock Rotational Edge Drop 8 in (200 mm) Required
5 Compression (Alternative methods allowed – select one test type) Machine Apply and Release Calculated Test Force x 1.4 Required
Machine Apply and Hold Calculated Test Force
Weight and Load Spreader Calculated Test Load
6 Vibration Random Overall Grms level of 0.54 Required
7 Shock Rotational Edge Drop 8 in (200 mm) Required

Other Related Test Methods

For additional related test methods, we recommend reading more about ISTA testingPackage Testing or ASTM Packaging.

If you have any questions about ISTA 3E test or other packaging tests, we invite you to contact our material testing lab today. It will be our pleasure to answer your custom testing questions,

We also invite you to learn more about our package testing services by consulting our brochure below: