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top load crush testing iconTop-load and Crush Resistance Testing

Products that are stacked in the course of production, storage, transport or display must be sufficiently robust within desired or industry-standard stacking heights. Top-load or column-crush testing defines methods for ensuring that products consistently meet these quality requirements for axial load.

Plastic bottles and containers, cans, glass jars, or cardboard cartons, will all behave differently according to contents, materials and structural design. Cost and environmental pressures for lighter packaging using less raw materials, also affect performance during filling and capping, as containers become more susceptible to crushing, or deforming in ways that must be designed out.

A common example of a stacked container is the PET bottle, used globally for beverages, cooking, cleaning and other liquids. It has design features that affect axial load strength, including closure, handles, grip areas, and shoulder and base design. Some designs are made for unit-to-unit stacking to further minimise batch packaging and increase stack stability. Top-load testing is therefore as integral a part of the design process, as it is of production line quality testing.

A top-load test essentially involves applying a downwards compression to measure resistance to crushing of a product, usually a container. Test methods define the speed of compression and extent of deformation, and peak force measurement determines the product sample strength. An appropriate universal tester will also be able to measure accurately the initial and recovered height of the sample, for conformance to specification.

In the case of multi-wall cardboard materials, standardised samples of the material itself are assessed for rigidity by edge crush testing, since this is predictive of final construction strength. Contents, head space and weight, as well as humidity and storage conditions greatly affect the load-bearing of a cardboard container. The strength and suitability of a complete cardboard box may therefore also involve compressive burst testing under various conditions.

Crush test fixtures

Compression fixtures account for the behaviour of the sample, so a plate for crush testing a bottle may be vented, or have a cone centre that prevents a bottle slipping sideways. A plate for crushing a box may be self-levelling to follow the pattern of failure. Edge crush methods may require special fixtures, for example to retain a circular ring of cardboard. If a filled container such as a beverage can is to be tested, a suitable enclosure and containment is required. If glass top-load is to be done, additional safety enclosures are essential.

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Top-load and column crush test standards

  • ISO 3037 : corrugated fibreboard - determination of edgewise crush resistance (unwaxed edge method)
  • ISO 8113 : glass containers - resistance to vertical load - test method
  • ISO 12048 : packaging - complete filled transport packages - compression and stacking tests using a compression tester
  • ASTM D642 : determining the compressive resistance of shipping containers, components, and unit loads
  • ASTM D1185 : pallets and related structures employed in handling and shipping
  • ASTM D2659 : column crush properties of blown thermoplastics containers
  • ASTM D4169 : performance testing for shipping containers and systems
  • ASTM D4577 : compression resistance of a container under constant load
  • DIN 55440-1 : packaging test - compression test - test with a constant conveyance-speed
  • DIN 555261-1 : packaging test; compression test; dynamical test for plastic containers, with a capacity up to 10 liters
  • DIN 53757 : testing of plastics articles; determination of the behaviour by stacking by long-time-test, boxes for transport and storage
  • ISBT : voluntary standard test methods for PET bottles
  • TAPPI T403 : bursting strength of paper
  • TAPPI T804 : compression test of fiberboard shipping containers
  • TAPPI T807 : bursting strength of paperboard and linerboard
  • TAPPI T808 : flat crush test of corrugated board (flexible beam method)
  • TAPPI T809 : flat crush of corrugated medium (CMT test)
  • TAPPI T810 : bursting strength of corrugated and solid fiberboard
  • TAPPI T811 : edgewise compressive strength of corrugated fiberboard (short column test)
  • TAPPI T818 and T822 : ring crush of paperboard
  • TAPPI T824 : fluted edge crush of corrugating medium (flexible beam method)
  • TAPPI T825 : flat crush test of corrugated board (rigid support method)
  • TAPPI T826 : short span compressive strength of paperboard
  • TAPPI T838 : edge crush test using neckdown
  • TAPPI T839 : edgewise compressive strength of corrugated fiberboard using the clamp method (short column test)

More top-load / crush resistance standards

See Mecmesin’s range of top-load/crush resistance testers

To find out more about top-load testing please see our white paper