ISTA Series 6: 6-FEDEX-A Testing vs. Standard UN Testing

When we think of UN Testing, several things may come to mind. We have the drop test which evaluates the package’s ability to handle collisions, the vibration test which simulates movements created by a motorized vehicle, the Cobb test which is designed to ensure the fiberboard will not disintegrate when exposed to water, and the stacking test which checks the integrity of the package by stacking various weights over the top of it. However, those that want to test their packages under the ISTA 6-FEDEX-A requirements for packages 150 lbs. or under are finding it to be difficult to get a passing grade.

What Are The Differences?

Under standard testing, each sample is dropped only one time at a specific height for a total of 5 drops total from 5 different samples.

Under the ISTA 6-FEDEX-A testing, 1 complete sample is dropped 10 times focusing on every corner and edge of the package. Any significant leaking on either of these tests would result in a failure, which makes the ISTA testing very difficult to pass because of the number of drops. In addition, flat and elongated packages must go through a bridge or concentrated impact test procedure. This procedure consists of dropping a wooden box measuring 12″ x 12″ x 12″ dense wooden box weighing 21 lbs. on the midpoint of the package.

Under standard testing, the stacking test is usually employed. This a 24-hour test in which the boxes must be subjected to the force applied to the top surface equivalent to the total weight of identical packages which might be stacked during transport. ISTA 6-FEDEX-A testing specifically requires the dynamic compression test. This consists of a computerized control system which exerts a specific amount of force upon the boxes to determine if any damage to the sidewalls occurs.

Although ISTA 6-FEDEX-A testing doesn’t require the Cobb moisture test, it does require a vibration test similar to standard testing. Both tests are completed by using a rotary vibration table designed to simulate the movements from motor vehicles. However, with ISTA 6-FEDEX-A testing, certain items require a vibration test from a Random Vibration Tester. This vibration testing reproduces 3 consecutive sequences at 15 minutes each of random vibration profiles which simulate air vibration as well as truck vibration.


If ISTA 6-FEDEX-A testing is in your future when shipping hazardous goods, you may find it challenging to find packaging that will pass the rigorous amount of drops and impact testing that are performed. Contact ICC Compliance Center for your custom packaging needs.

Michael Zendano

Michael Zendano

Michael Zendano started with ICC Compliance Center back in 2016 with several years in the packaging field as a Quality Control Manager. In addition, he has 8 years experience in teaching. Michael works at the Niagara Falls Office as the Packaging/Regulatory specialist where he manages packaging projects and procedures and is a member of the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IOPP) and The Chemical Packaging Committee (CPC) . Degrees: M.S. Science of Education.