Quality assurance is an important step in the manufacturing process, as it allows you to ensure that you are sending the best quality product to your customers. Just as it is important to test the product itself however, it is important that you test your packaging in order to ensure it can stand up to handling and keep your product fresh and intact. To this end, if you are manufacturing a packaged product, it is important to set a testing standard for your packaging. 

A testing standard will allow you to accurately and consistently identify a package’s failure point and performance capabilities, allowing you to identify and adjust any inadequacies or failures before your product goes to market. By meeting your packaging standards, you can be confident that not only are you producing the best possible product, but also that it is arriving to consumers without damage, as you intend it to be. But how do you implement successful testing standards for your packages? This article will give you the information you need to begin setting up your testing standard, improving your quality assurance procedures. 

1. Repeatable Testing

In order to establish your testing standard, you must begin repeatable testing on your package to ensure that you will be receiving consistent results across individual products. Repeatable testing allows you to ensure that your results are accurate, rather than due to a single faulty item. Consistency is key to establishing testing standards, as a good performance on a single test does not necessarily mean that your packaging will be secure across all items. 

To conduct repeatable testing, set up a standard for how often individual packages will be tested. You should select products from your production line—either randomly, or at set intervals—to test a variety of packages. Establishing repeatable results is key to quality assurance and testing standards. 

2. Testing Packages to Failure Point

In order to begin setting up a testing standard for your packages, you must work on testing them to a failure point. A package’s failure point is the point at which it loses its integrity. You can begin to establish a failure point by conducting testing under pressure, such as a Bubble Emission Test or Burst Test. FlexPak Package Leak Detectors are able to perform ASTM D3078 Bubble Leak Testing and Burst Tests on a variety of packaging types and sizes, helping to visually determine packaging flaws and weaknesses. 

Once you have determined the failure point of your packaging, you will be able to take measures to address this weakness and improve your packaging quality. You may decide to improve your current packaging method, or the failure point might help you determine that a different packaging method might be more appropriate for your needs. Whether your package is travelling cross-country at high altitudes, or needs to maintain freshness throughout its shelf life, determining your package’s failure point is a crucial step in setting up packaging testing standard. 

3. Set a Minimum Acceptable Performance

Similar to determining your packages’ failure points, you must also set minimum acceptable performance parameters for your package. What external pressures will your packages need to withstand, and where do you draw the line at acceptable performance levels? 

In order to determine this, you should consider the type of product and packaging that you are using. Ask yourself: Is your product perishable, and will it lose quality or freshness if packaging leaks? Will exposure to oxygen spoil your product? How strong is your package type, and how does it stand up to handling? How much does your packaging cost, and how do you prioritize packaging cost versus its performance? 

You must also consider the conditions your package will have to undergo in transit: Will it be shipped at high altitudes? Is there a specific amount of pressure it must withstand to remain intact during transport? Does the packaging adequately protect your product from rough handling during shipping?

After answering these questions, you should set your minimum acceptable performance level above all anticipated performance requirements. Establishing such a minimum acceptable performance will allow you to ensure that your package is able to withstand all conditions it is exposed to, without leakage, breakage, or spoilage… even if these conditions are rougher than anticipated. 

4. Understand How Different Package Types Perform Under Pressure

Finally, in order to determine your testing standards you must understand how your chosen packaging type will perform under pressure. Your package design will have an impact on its performance, and again you must take into consideration your product type and priorities when deciding on the appropriate package type. For example, flow wrap packages feature 3 seals, whereas gusset pouches have 8. While the gusset pouch may be more visually appealing, it also has more opportunities for a weak spot or leak. Additional factors to consider when choosing your packaging type include plastic film composition, and seal strength or thickness, which may also impact the integrity of your packaging. 

By following and understanding these factors, you will be able to begin setting up a standard testing procedure to ensure your packaging is consistently of the highest quality. FlexPak Package Leak Detectors can test to a number of ASTM standards that will help you determine your package’s failure points, set up repeatable testing procedures, and determine a minimum acceptable performance. Setting a testing standard is crucial to the quality of your products, and will help you provide the best experience to your customers time and time again.  

FlexPak Test Methods 

FlexPak Package Leak Detectors provide several seal integrity testing solutions to suit your needs. FlexPak’s diverse seal integrity tests can ensure your packages meet the required ASTM testing standards in your industry, with the ability to test a variety of product and packaging types.  

Bubble Leak Testing: Bubble Leak Testing is completed in an acrylic vacuum chamber.  The sealed product is submerged in water and, when put under pressure, bubbles will form at any compromised points in the packaging.  Bubble Leak Testing is an easy visual test that will ensure your packaging’s integrity while adhering to the ASTM D3078 testing standard.

Detecting Gross Leaks In Packaging By Internal Pressurization: The ASTM F2096 Testing Standard provides highly accurate testing for pharmaceutical and medical packaging, allowing users to detect leaks, substrate holes, and channels accurately and reliably.  The sensitive nature of this test means it can detect leaks that a standard Bubble Leak test cannot, and it can also be used with a variety of package shapes and sizes. 

Altitude Simulation Testing: Altitude Simulation testing, the ASTM D6653 testing standard, is a package integrity testing method that simulates the extreme pressure changes a package may undergo during transport. An altitude test will simulate ascent and descent rates, as well as a set altitude for an extended period of time, ensuring that the packaging can withstand its transport and reach consumers intact.  

Dry Chamber Tests: A Dry Chamber Test is performed without liquid in a leak detector tank.  This procedure is best suited for packages containing liquids, such as condiment sachets or bottles with lug-style and threaded caps.  The package is placed within the chamber on an absorbent material and, when put under pressure, any leaks will result in the presence of liquid within the dry tank. The ASTM D5094 testing standard is performed in a dry tank environment. 

From Fruit to Pharmaceuticals, Meat to Medicine, and anywhere in between, FlexPak is the most reliable solution when it comes to package seal integrity and leak testing equipment.  Contact us now at (416) 399-5583 or visit us at https://flexpakinc.com for more information or to request a quote.