Package testing at Cal Poly

Like many universities, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, is involved with collaborative projects with industry.

Jay Singh, Ph.D., and new Packaging Department head, cites two recent examples:

Bags: Paper versus plastic

One example is for distribution testing on dry milk packaging for 55-lb bags to compare the use of plastic and paper in various transportation modes. Testing was conducted using a Lansmont electrohydraulic vibration tester in multiple transportation durations from 1-hour to 24-hour periods. The bags were oriented in various product positions including dead stack, full palletized stack, half pallet, and bag-in-box transportation.

Cal Poly researchers were on the lookout for possible defects such as seam tears or related product leaks.

Standard drop tests were also conducted, though Singh says the results showed that nothing happened.

“On our own, we tested above and beyond any reasonable drop height,” says Singh. “I believe we maxed out at 30 feet. Both materials tested very well, with each packaging testing better than the other in different tests.”

Customized cushioning tests

Singh says the most recent testing was to compare three of a client’s products and one from its competitor. Testing involved the cushion curve test, but due to the nature of the cushioning used for the product--expanded polystyrene pieces--the cushion tester would not have worked properly.

Cal Poly personnel built a box to contain the material and permit flexibility to create the desired effect for results parallel to that of cushion curve machinery. The box was released from the standard drop height on the Lansmont drop tester; compression testing was conducted on Lansmont equipment. A see-through containment device was constructed of acrylic and used to house the void-fill products that were tested.

“We tested various volumes of product at various compression weights,” Singh says. “The results were as expected, and we also obtained third party evaluation and confirmation.”

To read the main story that this sidebar accompanies, see Smooth changeover at Cal Poly.

For further information about Cal Poly’s program, visit

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