ASTM D3103 Thermal Performance of Distribution Packages

Testing Standard:

ASTM D3103 Test Method for Thermal Insulation Performance of Distribution Packages

Standard Number
ASTM D3103

Standard Title
Test Method for Thermal Insulation Performance of Distribution Packages

Overview for ASTM D3103:

ASTM D3103 is a standard test method that determines the thermal performance of insulated shipping containers and packaging systems. The method is used to evaluate the ability of a package to maintain a specified temperature range during shipping.

This test method is often used for distribution packages containing hazardous or temperature-sensitive materials, such as pharmaceuticals, biological substances, and chemicals. The test is designed to measure the thermal insulation of the package by measuring the temperature changes inside the package while it is exposed to external temperatures.

The thermal performance of a distribution package is tested by placing a temperature probe inside the package and simulating the temperature cycles that the package will be exposed to during shipping. The package is then loaded onto a truck and transported to the destination. After the transportation, the package is opened, and the temperature inside the package is measured again to evaluate the package’s thermal performance.

Overall, ASTM D3103 is a critical test that ensures that distribution packages are capable of protecting the products they contain from temperature fluctuations, thus maintaining their quality and integrity.

The contents within the packaged product under this test method should be evaluated following ASTM Guidelines. The contents of the packaged products, when exposed to the ambient temperature as mentioned below, are decided and recommended. To begin, it is recommended that there be at least three or four specimen samples. This testing for the most part is used for the higher end of items. Getting and keeping the proper thermal temperature for transport is so important for these products. All testing must be done carefully and efficiently, under the guidelines of the ASTM method itself. Purple Diamond Testing offers ASTM D3078 Testing as part of our packaging compliance and validation services.

According to, “1.1 This test method covers the determination of the thermal insulation quality of a package and the thermal stability of its contents when exposed to variable ambient temperature conditions. It is suitable for testing packages with various internal energy sources with or without product payloads.

1.2 This standard does not purport to address all the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to set up proper safety, health, and environmental practices and decide the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. Specific precautionary statements are given in 5.3.

1.3 This international standard was developed following internationally recognized principles on standardization set up in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers Trade (TBT) Committee.

Significance and Use

4.1 This test method is intended for use for evaluating the performance of thermal insulated packaging used for high-value, high-risk materials. This test method may also be used for any product that requires correct internal package temperature readings while being exposed to a range of external air temperatures.

4.2 Certain items, such as biological materials, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and blood products, must be shipped inside temperature-controlled packages. Factors affecting the rate of heat transfer of the package include the insulation of the exterior package, the energy source, and the product payload.

4.3 Because of the variety of factors affecting the performance of a thermally insulated package, testing should be conducted with the actual package whenever possible. When simulated packages are used, special care must be exercised so that the simulated payload and coolant will be as close as possible to the actual packages in temperature and other relevant physical properties.”

Rationale for ASTM D3103:

ASTM D3103 – Test Method for Thermal Insulation Performance of Distribution Packages. This test method is essential when shipping elevated risk products that need to remain at a specified condition for a certain amount of time. Verification of a package’s ability to keep an internal temperature range for a specified period is performed using calibrated recording devices and environmental chambers. This test method is useful in testing packages with multiple internal energy sources. Certain items such as food delivery services or home meal kits are shipped inside temperature-controlled packages. Certain factors along the way of transit affect the rate of heat transfer between the exterior of the package and the product found inside. 

Key Points:

Related Standards:

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ASTM D3103
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