Tests & Test Standards at Westpak

The ASTM and ISTA protocols or standards are the formal, industry-recognized consensus documents used to conduct testing. The combined effects of their proper use by our highly-trained staff, advanced equipment, calibrated instrumentation, and Westpak's Quality Management System (QMS) enables accurate and reliable test data generation.

 
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Tests & Test Standards

When testing consumer goods and packaging systems, accuracy is essential. In order to ensure test samples, like medical devices and pharmaceuticals, are tested safely, reliably, and consistently, distinguished labs adhere to very specific testing guidelines from organizations such as ISTA and ASTM. The International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) and American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) author product and package testing standards for laboratories like Westpak to follow. These standards create parameters that help labs simulate realistic environments that a product and/or packaging system will likely be subjected to in a transit setting. Additionally, some testing standards, like the ISTA 3 Series, may be required by couriers before transit. A variety of testing standards may be applied to a test sample depending on what it is, its transit and storage cycle, and the regulatory guidelines that may govern the product or its respective industry. For example, pharmaceuticals must adhere to different testing standards than computer hardware.



Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to our most frequently asked questions.

ASTM vs. ISTA testing at Westpak

ASTM International and the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) have created thousands of testing standards for many industries; Westpak's testing is focused on products and packaging and uses just a few. Some protocols document test processes and parameters for package systems, enabling labs to simulate in-transit environments that a product and packaging system will likely encounter. Compliance with more than one test standard may be required depending on the product, its distribution and storage cycle, and regulatory guidelines for its industry. For example, a pharmaceutical container may require testing for breakage, a child-proof enclosure, leak, cold chain, label abrasion, etc. Also, achieving package compliance with testing standards like the ISTA 3 Series may be required by couriers to qualify for transit; Amazon requires vendor package certification to the ISTA 6 Series protocols. The most notable difference between ISTA and ASTM testing standards is how they’re presented. The ASTM packaging testing standards are detailed in the official literature, but the levels, sequences, and orientations are left to the discretion of the test operator. ISTA testing protocols, on the other hand, are meant to adapt to unique package-related conditions or configurations, with each testing procedure containing thorough step-by-step instructions, including levels, sequences, and orientations, that must be strictly followed.

How do I determine whether I need ASTM or ISTA testing?

Determining whether you need ISTA or ASTM testing ultimately depends on the type of product or packaging system being tested, as well as its transit and distribution method. If the object is being sent via FedEx or UPS, for example, this may influence your decision. Likewise, if your test sample is only being transported on the East Coast, you may benefit from a different testing series than a sample that will be distributed cross-country. Selecting the best ISTA and ASTM testing standards at Westpak can seem overwhelming at first, but our team is here to help identify the ideal solution for your testing needs.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of ASTM and ISTA?

Reviewing the potential benefits and drawbacks of ASTM and ISTA testing standards at Westpak can be a helpful exercise to identify the type of testing that best suits your needs. Let’s take a look.

  • Cost: ISTA testing is typically less costly than ASTM.  
  • Equipment: ASTM requires newer, more high-end equipment.
  • Time: ISTA is generally more time-efficient than ASTM.
For testing package systems, the primary benefit of ASTM is its flexibility. This allows stakeholders to customize testing methods to best suit their sample and its transit/distribution journey. Conversely, ISTA’s stringent parameters help generate highly precise results, which makes it a popular choice among medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. Westpak testing services feature both ASTM and ISTA options. For more information on how these test standards may benefit your business, contact us today. 

Accreditations:

Testing at Westpak has been accredited by A2LA to comply with ISO 17025.

Westpak testing labs are ISTA certified to perform a variety of tests.

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