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Testing luggage

Ensuring that luggage will survive the demands of modern travel.

Luggage must be designed and constructed to meet the rigours of modern-day air, land and sea journeys. The word ‘luggage’ is generally used to describe all types of bags – from large suitcases with extendable trolley handles to small, soft holdalls. Because of its use during travel, failure of a product may happen at the most inconvenient time, possibly resulting in expensive or personal items being lost or damaged.

Before an item of luggage is manufactured, the materials should be tested in order to prove their suitability for the intended application. Such tests include tear strength and puncture tests on the outer fabric, in addition to seam strength tests. Assessment of colour fastness to rubbing, water and light may also be necessary. These tests are especially important when considering linings, as dye could transfer to clothing placed inside the case.

Modern luggage features many different constructional components that need testing, such as threads, slide fasteners, elastics, buckles and fibreboards. Constructional aspects that require assessment include stitching, reinforcements and assembly of straps, beading and trims.

Product testing

The testing of complete items of luggage ensures that clients can fully evaluate products before bulk production commences and at all stages during manufacture. Such testing will ensure that the right quality is supplied to the customer. This will result in fewer returns and increased customer satisfaction as well as helping to develop customer loyalty.

The tests

SATRA TM241:2007 – 'Luggage handle strength – static loading' involves loading cases to represent the maximum weight that could be envisaged in use, and then lifting them by the handle and setting them down. Any damage is assessed visually.

 

Figure 1: SATRA TM244 assesses luggage fittings attachment strength

SATRA TM242:2008 – 'Luggage corner impact strength – drop test' requires the case to be filled to a realistic level, taking into account airline baggage restrictions and the size of the case. The case is then dropped twice onto each of its eight corners (or wheels if these are positioned at the corners). When the test is complete, the whole case is assessed, including any attachments of trims – such as slide fasteners – wheels and trolley handles. In tests on large trolley cases, we have seen an increase in slide fastener failure.

SATRA TM243:2008 – 'Luggage handle strength 'snatch' test' determines the case’s resistance to handle breakages when the loaded case is lifted, dropped through a defined distance, and the fall is arrested.

SATRA TM244:2007 – 'Luggage fittings attachment strength' is used to assess the strength of external or internal load bearing fittings, such as handles and straps. The sample containing the fitting is gradually stressed by a tensile machine until failure occurs (figure 1).

SATRA TM245:2007 – 'Luggage trolley handles – collapsing strength' determines the collapsing strength of luggage trolley handles when loaded in compression (figure 2).

SATRA TM246:2007 – 'Luggage trolley handles – bending strength' tests the bending strength of luggage trolley handles. Bending is a common form of misuse and can easily lead to irreparable damage.

 

Figure 2: Testing the collapsing strength of luggage trolley handles under SATRA TM245

SATRA TM247:2007 – 'Luggage handle strength – repeated lifting' simulates the strains applied to any luggage handles due to repeated lifting. It is applicable to all types of cases and holdalls. The item is first loaded with contents appropriate for its size, and then repeatedly lifted by its handle and returned to the floor for a maximum of 10,000 cycles. Any damage to the handle or its attachment points is assessed during and after the test.

SATRA TM248:2007 – 'Performance of wheels systems – rolling road' assesses wheeled luggage on a ‘rolling road’ apparatus (figure 3). Today, many cases and holdalls feature wheels to enable the user to pull them along. Such luggage can be heavy and often roughly treated, being pulled and pushed over kerbs and uneven/irregular surfaces. Therefore, the wheels must be robust enough to withstand high stresses and strains. In the ‘rolling road’ test, the ‘road’ comprises a rubber belt containing two metal ridges to represent the unevenness encountered on many road and path surfaces. The test involves the loaded case wheels alternately being lifted and dropped by these ridges onto a moving belt. Cases should be able to withstand these stresses and strains and remain fully functional after the five-hour test period.

 

Figure 3: The SATRA TM248 'rolling road' test

SATRA TM249:2007 – 'Luggage – puncture resistance' has been designed to determine the force required to drive a hardened steel nail through the body of an item of luggage.

Additional tests

There is a suite of SATRA tests and recommended guideline levels for slide fasteners (zips) for luggage, including lateral strength and burst, both of which measure how much force can be applied to the slide fastener before failure occurs. The closure under lateral load test determines the maximum lateral force that can be applied to a slide fastener while still allowing it to close without failure. In addition, the fatigue resistance test investigates repeated opening and closing – usually with the sides of the slide fastener being loaded.

Loading the case

In the majority of SATRA’s luggage tests, the luggage must be fully loaded, with the total weight of the contents depending on the size of the item and its end-use. Since cases can vary greatly, these loadings are quite different. To take into account the range of sizes available on the market, SATRA has devised a range of suitable loadings.

How can we help?

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SATRA welcomes enquiries about luggage testing. We can also help companies decide on the most appropriate tests for their products. Please email leathergoods@satra.com for further information.