For 2024

To all new and existing customers please DOWNLOAD THE NEW TERMS OF SERVICE for doing business with Pro-Pack Testing Laboratory, Inc.

This document contains some significant changes to the way we are doing business from this point forward and also contains valuable information on how to most efficiently utilize our testing services. There are some significant changes and we have tried to make things easier from this point going forward. If after reading this document, any questions can be directed to our Project Coordinator Noah Harper or contact us at

ISTA Series 3A Test Information

ISTA 3a Testing

ISTA 3a Testing

Additional Information can be found on the ISTA website.

Advanced Tests

Links to tests: ISTA 3A, ISTA 3BISTA 3E, ISTA 3F,

International Safe Transit Association ISTA Procedure 3a Test Protocol

ISTA 3-Series tests are advanced simulation integrity performance test methods, enhanced simulation performance tests and partial simulation performance tests designed to test the capabilities of the package and product to withstand hazards of transport using general simulation of actual hazards of transport and not necessarily complying with carrier packaging regulations.

There are three sections to the ISTA 3a testing procedure: Overview, Testing and Reporting.

ISTA Series 3 Overview provides general information required before testing in the laboratory.

ISTA Series 3 Testing presents the instructions required for laboratory testing.

ISTA Series 3 Reporting indicates the data that shall be reported to ISTA.

To learn more about the ISTA 3a Drop Test Procedure or more general information, go to the ISTA 3a Test Procedure pdf on the ISTA website.

Two systems of weights and measures are always used in ISTA testing. The English system uses inches and pounds and the international system SI is metric. Inch/Pound units are shown first with Metric units in brackets. Tables will show the two systems separately.

Key to Metric and English units and symbols:

  • For measuring weight, metric units include kilograms (kg) or grams (gm). For measuring weight, English units include pounds (lb).
  • For measuring distance, metric units include meters (m) or millimeters (mm). For measuring distance, English units include feet (ft) or inches (in).
  • For measuring volume, metric units include cubic centimeters (cm3). For measuring volume, English units include cubic inches (in3).
  • For measuring density, metric units include kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m3). For measuring density, English units include pounds per cubic inch (lb/in3).
  • For measuring temperature, metric units include centigrade (C). For measuring temperature, English units include Fahrenheit (F).
  • For measuring absolute pressure, metric units include kilopascal (kPa). For measuring volume, English units include pounds per square inch (psi).

Either system may be used as the standard unit of measure; however, the standard unit should remain consistent throughout testing and reporting. Units are converted to significant figures, not exact equivalents.

Overview of ISTA Series Test Procedure 3A

The ISTA Procedure 3A test procedure is a general simulation test for individual packaged products shipped through a parcel delivery system. ISTA Series Test 3A is appropriate for four types of packages often distributed as individual packages either by air or ground transport. These types of packages include: standard, small, flat and elongated package types. 3A includes an optional test combining random vibration under low pressure (to simulate high altitude transport conditions). This is used to test the container’s ability to maintain a seal and closure as well as the retention of contents whether liquid, powder or gas without leak.

Standard Packaged Products are packaged products that do not meet any of the definitions below for a small, flat or elongated packaged product. Standard packaged products may be traditional fiberboard cartons, plastic, wooden or cylindrical containers.

Small Packaged Products are packaged products with a volume less than 13,000 cm3 (800in3), with a longest dimension of 350mm (14in) or less and weight of 4.5kg (10lb) or less.

Flat Packaged Products are packaged products with a shortest dimension of 200mm (8in) or less, next longest dimension that is four or more times larger than the shortest dimension, and having a volume 13,000 cm3 (800in3) or greater.

Elongated Packaged Products are packaged products with a longest dimension of 900mm (36in) or greater and both of the packages other dimensions at 20 percent or less of that longest dimension.

Note: if a packaged product is both flat and elongated, the package should be tested as “Elongated.”

ISTA 3A testing can evaluate the protective performance of a packaged product related to vibration, shock and stresses encountered during handling and transportation in a parcel delivery system. These test levels are based on general data and do 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 might not be covered.

ISTA Test 3A covers testing of individual packaged products weighing 150 lbs or less when prepared for shipment via a parcel delivery carrier.

The shipper shall determine prior to testing: what will be considered damage to the product and what damage level is allowable. The shipper shall also determine the correct methodology to determine product condition at the test’s conclusion and the acceptable package condition at the test conclusion.

When conducting the Compression Test, box failure that could result in stacking failure is considered a failed test if the packaged product might be warehoused. Box failure is allowed if the packaged product would not be warehoused and after testing if the product is not damaged according to the methodology established and if the product still meets the acceptable package condition as determined above.

Samples for ISTA Series Test Procedure 3A

Samples for Test Procedure 3A should be untested actual packages and actual products. If one or both are not available, be sure that the substitute product and packaging are as close as possible to the actual items.

One sample is required for tests in the ISTA Series Test 3A Procedure.

To allow for proper testing of package and product durability, ISTA requires that the test procedure be performed one time, but due to variability of packaging and product characteristics recommends that fragile and liquid products have two or more packaged product samples tested.

ISTA suggests performing the testing procedure five or more times using new samples with each test to improve statistical significance for all package tests.

Read more about the Test Sequence for ISTA Series Test Procedure 3a and Required Equipment for ISTA Series Test Procedure 3a

About Us

Pro-Pack is one of the premier package testing laboratories in North America. With more than 30 years of experience, we are trusted for high standards, accuracy and our commitment to excellence. Pro-Pack is owned and managed by a team of people who are dedicated to the profession and the firm.

Contact Info

2385 Amann Drive
Belleville, Illinois 62220
Phone: 618-277-1160
Fax: 618-277-1163

ProPack Package Testing