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ISTA 3E Testing


ISTA 3E is a general simulation test for unitized loads of the same retail or institutional 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. Examples would be a stretch wrapped pallet load of individual containers, a single non-packaged machine banded to a pallet or a pallet with a corrugated tray, tube and a cap.

ISTA 3E 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 ISTA 3E test levels are based on general data and may not represent any specific distribution system. The package and product are considered together and not separately.

Some conditions of transit, such as moisture, pressure or unusual handling, may not be covered. Other ISTA Procedures may be appropriate for different conditions or to meet different objectives.

ISTA 3E covers the testing of unitized loads, made up of either single or multiple products or packages of the same products. The shipper shall determine the following prior to testing:

  • What constitutes damage to the product, and
  • What damage tolerance level is allowable, if any, and
  • The correct methodology to determine product condition at the conclusion of the test, and
  • The acceptable package condition at the conclusion of the test.

ISTA 3E testing includes atmospheric preconditioning (temperature and humidity), atmospheric conditioning (temperature and humidity), shock (incline impact, horizontal impact and rotational edge drop), compression (machine apply and release, machine apply and hold and weight and load spreader) and vibration (random).

The chart below is from the standard and provides more guidance on the testing procedure and requirements:

 Sequence # Test CategoryTest TypeTest LevelFor ISTA Certification
 1 Atmospheric PreconditioningTemperature and Humidity  Ambient Required
 2 Atmospheric ConditioningControlled Temperature and Humidity  Temperature and Humidity chosen from chart Optional
 3 Shock (alternative methods allowed – select one test type) Inclined Impact (Conbur) 42in per second (1.1m per second) Required
 Horizontal Impact 42in per second (1.1m per second)
 4ShockRotational Edge Drop8in (200mm)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
6VibrationRandomOverall Grms Level of 0.54Required
7ShockRotational Edge Drop8in (200mm)Required


As an ISTA-certified package testing lab, Keystone Compliance can meet your package testing needs, including ISTA 3E. By providing quick turnarounds, competitive pricing and engineering assistance, Keystone Compliance has become a leader in the package test lab industry. Receiving a quote to complete ISTA-3E testing is as easy as completing our online quote form or calling us at (724) 657-9940.

Keystone Compliance Adds New Test Lab in Durham, North Carolina