All I Want for Christmas is ASTM D4169

santa 2.jpg

You may not be aware, but Packaging Compliance Labs is the official test lab of The North Pole. Every year since our company was founded, Santa has been sending packages our way for testing before Christmas. Santa’s trip is wrought with peril, and he wants to make sure he doesn’t break little Billy or Susan’s hearts by leaving a broken toy under the tree. Seriously, who wants to deal with that sort of drama on Christmas? Not you, not Santa, and certainly not PCL.

To get things right, the jolly man sends us some of the newest and most expensive toys he intends to deliver each year (thanks for the iPad, Santa!!). Identifying the “worst case” presents (i.e.. largest, heaviest, most delicate) and the possible configurations they might be boxed in is very important. We can’t possibly test every packaging configuration, so the FDA (Fun Delivery Administration) allows Santa to “bookend” the toys in a logical manner for testing. After Santa has worked with our skilled team of engineers to identify the worst-case packaging configurations, it’s time to run the transit simulation.

To start things off, a transit simulation typically begins with environmental conditioning. Delivering presents all over the world, Santa travels through arctic tundra, arid deserts and tropical climates. We want to give him the confidence that these conditions (and the transitions in between) don’t have a negative impact on the integrity of wrapping paper and bows.

Once conditioning is complete, our next step is to simulate handling. Presents get handled a lot between the workshop and the sleigh, and elves are notoriously clumsy. To make sure the little helpers don’t ruin Christmas, we perform several drops with the presents onto specified faces, edges and corners to test their durability.

After dropping presents, our next concern is how many presents are in Santa’s sleigh. He packs enough goodies into that thing to deliver toys to every good boy or girl (and coal to the naughty ones) in one trip. That means the toys at the bottom must endure the weight of all the toys on top of them. To have confidence that they can take the pressure, we run presents through a compression test simulating the weight that the bottom package might endure while traveling around the world.

Now comes the part where we literally shake things up. Santa lands his sleigh on a variety of surfaces, and the suspension on a sleigh is not very forgiving. To simulate landing on the ground or skimming across your roof, we run a variety of profiles on our vibration table. We also run a profile specific to flight, as Santa spends a significant amount of time flying between stops.

Speaking of flight, we also have the capabilities to run a high-altitude simulation at the lab. Packages that don’t have the ability to ‘breathe” (e.g. sealed plastic or foil bags) need to be tested to avoid bursting while in transit. We place presents into our vacuum chamber and run a simulation of 14,000 feet in altitude for a duration of 60 mins. If nothing bursts or ruptures, the test is a success!

To keep true to the “real world” scenario that all of these presents might face, we finish everything off with another set of drops. This time it’s all on Santa - it can be quite a challenge to hold onto gifts while walking on a roof or sliding down a chimney. To have confidence that gifts can survive a long fall, the final drop is executed from twice the height of the previous drops.

Keep yourself off the naughty list this year by working with PCL for all of your conditioning and transit needs. We run transit studies every day to provide you with the confidence that your device will arrive safely at its destination.

Please note: no reindeer, elves or actual presents were harmed during the writing of this blog.

Recent Posts