VAS Puts Our Boxes to the Test

Last revised: February 7, 2024
Ross Devlin


When a box arrives at your doorstep, sometimes you can tell it’s been through quite a bit on its journey. The evidence of external scuffs and scrapes are there, but most of the time, the contents are safe and sound inside. For something as seemingly simple as a container made from paper products, a great deal of scientific testing goes into ensuring that every box adheres to a strict quality standard.  

When our customers need a unique packaging solution that can withstand the wear and tear of its journey, they rely on IP’s Value-Added Services (VAS).

International Paper supplies all industries. Whether packing watermelon or shipping life-saving medicine across the nation, we treat the contents within our containers as equally valuable. Thought and care goes into designing and developing a container that will meet our customer's performance expectations. That’s where the VAS lab comes in. Our certified VAS labs and technicians are dedicated to conducting and devising tests to measure a variety of paper, combined board and box structure performance characteristics.

Our VAS labs are located in Aurora, Ill., Memphis, Tenn. and Indianapolis, Ind.  These labs have the capabilities to provide our customers with:  

  • Paper tests (caliper, STFI, mullen, etc.)
  • Package performance testing (vibration, impact, compression, etc.)
  • Combined board testing (edge crush test or ECT, pin adhesion, coefficient of friction, etc.)
  • Corrugated box testing (compression testing, handle & hand hold strength evaluation, manufacturer's joint, etc.)
  • Environmental conditions (0 to 120 F, up to 95 relative humidity)
  • Data analysis and result interpretations
  • Cost savings analysis

Testing is one of the most fundamental and important functions of the lab. One example is the drop test, which involves dropping the box over a dozen times to assess its strength from multiple heights and angles. Physical simulation tests give our technicians an understanding of how a customer’s box will fare after undergoing 1,200 bumpy miles in the back of a truck, or three months on the shelf in a humid warehouse. 

The VAS labs perform more than 150,000 tests annually and performed tests for 2,264 projects in 2023. No matter what test is needed, International Paper’s VAS team will be there to make sure our customers' products make it to the consumer the way they intended.