What are the typical packaging tests that should be performed after distribution testing?
Tests that should be performed after distribution generally revolve around evaluating package integrity. Distribution testing is designed to cause specific controlled events to happen to packaged product configurations that are related to product requirements and planned method of delivery. The integrity of a package is more likely affected by these staged cycle events than it is to the conditioning that occurs in accelerated aging or environmental stress testing. This is because conditioning is relatively static apart from temperature transitions.
What this means is that the selection of test methods is based on identifying the impact of these controlled events on the package integrity and the specific barriers designed into the packaging materials. If, for example, puncture strength is a desired characteristic, this would be tested during design and evaluation stages, but it would add little information after distribution testing. Instead, to understand whether events occurring during the distribution cycles caused a puncture or some fracture of the material, an integrity test such as a bubble leak, pressure decay, or helium leak testing may be used. If a product or packaging configuration has the potential to stress the seals resulting in a loss of integrity, dye penetration may be applied. It may benefit to measure seal strength as well to determine whether strength has been reduced in the cycles. This may threaten loss of integrity during subsequent events in the field of use. The selection of this test method here may be influenced by what was used prior to distribution testing: ASTM F88 for seal strength testing, F1140 or F2054 for burst and creep testing, for example. In this way, it may be possible to com- pare and to measure a change before and after distribution cycling.
To measure a related change to barriers for moisture or gas, knowledge of product requirements would determine the level of sensitivity necessary and therefore determine the test method of choice.
Overall, product attributes and requirements are the determining factors for test method selection. The characteristics needed to protect the product are determined during package design. The objective of postdistribution cycling is to measure the impact of these simulated events on package integrity and on the strength to maintain the integrity of the package during its life cycle to end use. Consult ASTM F2097 for guidance on test method selection.