January 22, 2014
Mullen vs. ECT—Which is Better for Your Packaging?
We’ve stated earlier that the most important feature a box can have is its ability to keep your packages safe at all costs. So how do we measure the safety these boxes provide?
Today, the corrugated industry has two different tests in use. We’re going to pit the two of them against each other. In one corner we have the Mullen Test; and in the other is the ECT, or Edge Crush Test. Which is better for your packaging?
The older of the two tests is the Mullen Test (also known as the “burst test”), which is been used for most of the last century. All certified corrugated boxes were assessed by a hydraulic testing device called a Mullen tester. The machine evaluated the bursting resistance of a box by applying pressure to a flat piece of suspended corrugated. The Mullen Test is a pretty good indicator of how a box might perform when each box is handled individually and is subject to rough handling.
Edge Crush Test
By the 90’s, supply chains had become increasingly automated and many of our most common products were shipped on pallets—meaning that the only pressure many boxes had was from stacking. The corrugated industry campaigned for an alternative test that only considers the stacking strength of corrugated. This is how the Edge Crush Test was born. The significance of the ECT is that corrugated only needs 90 percent of the weight to achieve a similar grade as a Mullen Test. 90 percent of the weight means 10 percent cost savings for those who use ECT certified corrugated.
In short the ECT tells you how much weight corrugated can withstand on the edge. For example, 32 ECT can withstand 32 pounds of pressure stacked on the edge of the board.
Which Test is Best for You?
So which is better? In simple terms, both tests measure different things, and the best test for your products depends on what kind of supply chain you have. If your main concern is your boxes being crushed in transit, use ECT certified corrugated to save a fair amount money. If your products are being shipped individually, they may be subject to rough handling and might need Mullen certified corrugated.
Today, ECT dominates the corrugated market and Mullen has become a specialty of sorts. However, replacing Mullen certified corrugated with “equivalent” strength ECT isn’t always the best choice. Today, many products are now traveling in “rougher” distribution channels with inadequate protection from their boxes because a Mullen grade board was replaced by an ECT grade.
If you’re interested in learning more about corrugated, z-Fold™, On Demand Packaging®, or any other topic related to packaging, drop us an email by filling out the form below.