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ISTA Testing for Cartons

Updated: May 11

Circular black and white graphic with a microscope in the middle ringed by the text, "Certified Laboratory Tested."

It’s vital to test your cartons to ensure that your product(s) are safe and secure during shipping and handling. ISTA testing is the gold standard for cartons and commonly used by CPG companies to ensure safe transport. Most companies enlist the services of a certified laboratory, which is something that your packaging engineering team would coordinate as changes are made to your cartons. If you need help, you can click here to schedule a free consultation and discover how Strategic Packaging Partners can help your company. Meanwhile, let’s explore what ISTA testing is, why it's important, and how it's conducted.

What is ISTA Testing?

ISTA stands for the International Safe Transit Association, an organization that sets standards for packaging and shipping materials. ISTA testing is a process that evaluates the ability of a package or container to withstand the rigors of the distribution environment. As I mentioned above, it’s usually conducted at certified testing laboratories that specialize in testing packaging. Certified labs can be found by contacting ISTA directly or visiting their website.

Why is ISTA Testing Important?

ISTA testing determines if products will arrive at their destination in good condition. If a package or container isn’t able to withstand transport conditions, the resulting damage can be costly for both the manufacturer and the consumer. Additionally, packaging that fails ISTA testing can result in delays in shipping and delivery times, which can be frustrating for customers, too.

How is ISTA Testing Conducted?

Testing for cartons is conducted in a series of stages. The first stage is the conditioning stage, where the package or container is exposed to a variety of environmental conditions to simulate the conditions it will face during transport, including exposure to temperature, humidity, and vibration.

The next stage is the testing stage, where the package or container is subjected to drop testing, compression testing, vibration testing, and shock testing. The tests are designed to simulate each specific type of stress that the package or container may encounter.

Once the testing is complete, the carton is graded to and compared to ISTA standards. If it passes, the lab will certify the carton, and if it fails, modifications may need to be made to the carton design to ensure it will withstand the rigors of transport.

By subjecting packages and containers to a variety of tests designed to simulate the distribution environment, manufacturers can ensure that their products arrive at their destination in good condition. This not only protects the manufacturer and the consumer from financial loss, but it also helps to ensure that customers receive their products in a timely and satisfactory manner. If you have questions about ISTA testing or any other packaging need, you can find us at or click here to schedule a free consultation with an experienced engineer.


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