Edge Crush Test vs. Mullen Burst Box Strength Test: What’s the Difference?

When testing the strength of your corrugated cardboard boxes, you’ll want to choose whether to use the Mullen Test versus the ECT. Both box tests offer various benefits that may help you decide what suits you and your company. You can improve your business operations by exploring and comparing each option.

What Is the Edge Crush Test?

The Edge Crush Test (ECT) measures the vertical compression strength and stretchability along the edges of cardboard boxes. ECT-grade cardboard is often made from recycled materials rather than virgin material. 

Using recycled materials means the fibers become shorter and less entwined. ECT cardboard is sturdy and light compared to other cardboard types, meaning it costs less and has a better stacking strength, unlike Mullen board variations. 

Stacking corrugated cardboard boxes onto vertical pallets is common as businesses become more automated. It is expected that more stacking increases productivity and profits. However, this practice can create challenges. For example, many companies worry that the weight of stacked products will crush the boxes on the bottom of the pallet. Companies needed a way to measure their box’s stacking strength, and they created the Edge Crush Test to ensure better evaluations. 

Use the ECT to determine how well your boxes will hold up during palletizing and stacking. Companies who wonder about the maximum weight their boxes can withstand will benefit from consistent testing.

How the Edge Crush Test Works

The ECT uses the McKee formula to test how much weight a box can handle. The formula contains the resistance (R) measured in kilonewtons per meter, where Fmax represents the maximum force the box can handle.

While many methods exist to test your cardboard boxes, the ECT most often uses the McKee formula. When evaluating compression and the strength of cardboard resistance, the formula uses a simplified equation to measure pounds of force based on the box outline board thickness. 

Benefits of an Edge Crush Test

The ECT offers many positive outcomes for businesses who want to know how much weight their boxes can handle. Here are some benefits of using the Edge Crush Test:

  • Materials: Manufacturers can determine the quality of their cardboard materials.
  • Strength: Manufacturers can determine the strength of cardboard boxes and change operations accordingly.
  • Standards: Performing an ECT can help manufacturers determine whether or not their box materials comply with rules and regulations.

What Is the Mullen Test?

The Mullen Burst Box Strength Test measures the bursting strength of your cardboard boxes after pressure is applied. Basically, the Mullen Test determines how much pressure a box can withstand before it bursts or creates a hole. This helps see how much your box can hold and how much external pressure it can receive before becoming damaged. 

The Mullen Test measures bursting strength and hole force using pounds per square inch (PSI). The Mullen Test helps determine how much product you can fit inside your box before it bursts and keeps your boxes safe during shipping. During transit, cardboard boxes and packages can become damaged, shaken or punctured. Conducting a Mullen Test shows you how much your containers can withstand during transportation and handling, which is especially important for more oversized, heavier items.

Mullen grade boards are often made with virgin material, unlike ECT boards. The material contains long and interwoven fibers, making it more durable and stronger than ECT cardboard. However, remember that virgin materials make cardboard more expensive. 

How the Mullen Burst Box Strength Test Works

The Mullen Burst Box Strength Test uses a specific process to measure the pressure a box can withstand until it bursts or creates a hole. The test uses an instrument of two platens with circular holes in the middle. A sample piece of cardboard is clamped between the platens while the inner machinery pushes against the box until it bursts. The maximum amount the sample can take is measured and recorded once the test ends. Manufacturers can use this information to determine the strength of their boxes and make improvements.

Benefits of the Mullen Burst Box Strength Test

The Mullen Test allows companies to measure how much pressure their boxes can take. Here are three benefits of using the Mullen Burst Box Strength Test:

  • Safety: The test ensures manufacturers ship and handle products safely without putting products at risk.
  • Shipping: A thorough test allows you to create safe boxes to prevent damaged products, breakage or collapsed cardboard during shipping.
  • Damage reduction: The test can reduce the chance of damage or costly returns to the sender. It ensures the product arrives safely to customers.

Which Test Should You Use?

You might choose an ECT or a Mullen Test, depending on your company’s needs and product types. Ask yourself a few questions before conducting a specific test. 

  • Stacking: Will the boxes be stacked on top of each other? 
  • Weight: How much weight will the bottom row have to handle?
  • Shipping: How will the boxes be shipped? Together or individually? 
  • Item information: What is the item’s weight, and how easily will it break?
  • Inner protection: What extra cushions or protection are inside the box?
  • Handling: What shipping or handling operations will the box deal with?

When You Should Use an Edge Crush Test

You should use an ECT when you need to know how much weight you can stack on top of your boxes before they crush. If you stack boxes on top of one another in storage, conduct an ECT to see how much weight they can withstand. 

When You Should Use a Mullen Burst Test

Use a Mullen Burst Test to see how much pressure your boxes can withstand. If you’re packaging heavy items, you should conduct a Mullen Burst Test to ensure your boxes are strong enough and won’t burst when the item inside moves around. You can also use a Mullen Burst Test to determine how much pressure a box can withstand on its sides, such as if another box slams into it during transit. 

The test is also helpful for boxes that are shipped long distances using various modes of transportation. For example, your product might be loaded onto a rail car, moved to a truck and transported to a shipping container. Conduct a Mullen Burst Test to see how strong your boxes are and how much external and internal pressure they can withstand before bursting. 

Create Strong Boxes at Custom Boxes Now!

Custom Boxes Now is a corrugated box manufacturer and product packaging company with over 50 years of experience in the industry. We help customers build and create unique custom boxes to fit their product needs. Our company offers various box printing methods and offers high-quality and eco-friendly products. With an ISO 9001:2015 certification, you can rest assured that our boxes are fully recyclable, with most materials made from post-consumer waste. Contact us today to speak to a representative or explore our services online.