Selecting a Shock Tester often depends on a project’s unique situation and needs. This can make it a very daunting task.

Lets start at the beginning. What is a Shock Test?

Shock Testing: The process of subjecting a specimen to a stressful environment to measure how durable (or fragile) it is.

Engineers use a Shock Tester to “shock” the subject and evaluate how it will perform in “real-life.”

Shock tests are generally designed to simulate a product’s future journey and environment.

Some basic examples of commonly simulated enviornments for test subjects include:

  • Being shipped from the factory to the warehouse
  • Falling from different heights
  • Withstanding a large explosion

For this reason, shock testing is an important part of the product development phase for many companies.

You may be thinking, “wait! That sounds extremely broad and unspecific.”

It kind of it. The term “Shock Tester,” is vague, since it can refer to many different machines.

Yet, if you are an informed buyer, you will be able to see your choices much more clearly. However, learning everything you need to know can be difficult, since there is a lot of disorganized information to sort through.

Of course the informed purchase you may eventually make will be totally worth it. Above all, using your own Shock Tester allows you to have more control over the testing process and cost.

About This Article

We wrote this for the purpose of helping your research. We compiled this list of 12 buying concerns that many people generally face when shopping for a Shock Tester.

Now you can get even closer to that positive purchase ROI you’re dreaming of.

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Table of Contents

  1. A Shock Tester Simulates Your Product’s “Real-World” Journey
  2. Shock Test Machines Range Greatly in Capability, Capacity, and Size
  3. You May Need To Meet Standards
  4. Check For Required Acceleration Levels
  5. Consider Buying A High-Quality Accelerometer
  6. Machine Selection Considerations
  7. There Are Plenty of Safety Considerations
  8. Make Sure You Cut Your Product Development Lead Time
  9. Data Reporting Software
  10. You May Need a Custom Shock Testing Machine
  11. Start The Buying Process Early, Slow Purchase Orders (POs) Can Delay Internal Projects
  12. Applications for Shock Testing

1. A Shock Tester Simulates Your Product’s “Real-World” Journey


On the whole, your goal is to ensure that your company doesn’t lose money.

How can shock testing help you do that?

It allows you to verify that a product’s quality is indeed high enough to fulfill its purpose. This also extends to a product surviving shipping. It is without a doubt important to ensure that a product is sturdy enough to arrive at its destination in the first place.

Above all, you don’t want your product to just survive the “real-world,” you want it to thrive.

Most products we encounter every day were shock tested at one point in time.

How about your laptop?

Have you ever accidently dropped it? Maybe not knowingly, but are you always so gentle with it while it’s in your bag? How many times have you unknowingly slammed it on a chair? Of course, there is a good chance your computer is much more durable than you think.

Have you ever seen workers unloading pallets at a loading dock? Or maybe you’ve also heard the noise two pallets make when they smack together. What about the stuff inside the pallets? Does it ever break? What about the pallets themselves?

Reasons To Test

There are certainly many reasons why you may want to shock test a product or a component. Some may include:

  • Compliance
  • Quality Control Testing
  • Transportation and Handling
  • Packaging Tests

In general, it’s good to be crystal clear on your purpose for needing to shock test your product. In any case, you can probably determine this based on 2 things:

  • The “journey” your product or component will take.
  • What the standards are for your specific product.

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2. Shock Test Machines Range Greatly in Capability, Capacity, and Size

preping for a test

Observatories being prepped for a test before being sent into space. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As stated above, the nature of the tests you need to perform determine the type of Shock Tester you need.

As an illustration, we divided Shock Test Machines into 3 main categories:

  • Impact Shock Test Machines
  • Mechanical Shock Test Machines
  • Bonus: Variations and Modifications

First Category: Impact Shock Testing

Consists of striking a test object with considerable force. Notice that the “shock” occurs during an uncontrolled meeting of surfaces.

A. Impact Shock Tester

This machine basically “slams” a test specimen. This test is for evaluating an item’s structural dependability and stability. Impact Shock Testers come in vertical and horizontal form.

  • i. Vertical Impact Shock Tester

    Shocks the test object by dropping weight on top of it from above.

  • ii. Horizontal Impact Shock Tester

    “Crushes” the test object horizontally. Used to test the structural integrity of a longer item.

B. Incline Shock Tester

Evaluates a product’s ability to withstand a sliding horizontal force. Incline shock tests generally review a products readiness to be stored and handled. A commonly used example is when pallets are stacked on a train.

This study explains impact testers through examples

Second Category: Mechanical Shock Testing

The parameters of the tests are generally all controllable.

A. Drop Tester

Used to measure the performance of an object during a free fall. Often used for testing the packing of a product for the transportation phase of its journey. For most products, this is the phase with the highest potential for damage.

B. Pyro Shock Tester

Distributes shock with an explosion either on or near an object. This is common in the aerospace industry.

C. Shipboard Shock Testing

Used for testing equipment attached to ships and submarines. These can be very specific types of tests such as the Military Specific MIL-S-901D.

This is an example of testing done with this type of machine.

Bonus: Common Variations and Modifications To Shock Test Machines

In case your situation requires specific features.

A. Pneumatic Impact Shock Tester

An impact tester that uses gas or pressurized air to perform the test. Many impact shock test machines use hydraulic systems. These may increase the test object’s risk of hydraulic fluid contamination. This report includes adding Pneumatic brakes in the “Conclusions and Recommendations for Future Work” section

B. Acceleration Shock Tester

A drop tester that simulates different levels of acceleration. This is achieved by various methods such as increasing air pressure or velocity.

C. High-Speed Shock Test Systems

For the purpose of testing items that require enhanced performance functions. These may include higher speeds, heavier payloads, and shorter durations.

D. High-Test-Cycle Shock Systems

Machines that can perform hundreds or thousands of tests. For labs and companies that need to perform high amounts of shock tests accordingly.

Like Reading The Equipment Cowboy Blog? Check Out Our Guide On Shopping For A Vibrating Table.

3. You May Need To Meet Standards

The USS Theodore Roosevelt during a test. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Shock testing overall consists of both military and industrial standards and specifications. The scope of the project generally determines if one must meet standards.

Here is a list of some of the main ones, we tried to group them by organization or industry due to complexity:

Group 1: General/Industry Specific

A. National Shock Test Standards

These are American Test Standards that apply to a wide scope of equipment. These standards outline test conditions and levels of shock. These standards apply to many fields, such as transportation. For more reading, check out this PDF review of the 2010 testing standards.

B. Society of Automotive Engineers International (SAE)

Has a special focus in industries related to transportation. It is commonly used in the aerospace and automotive industries. This type of testing includes harsh shock testing to prove environmental capabilities.


Part of the Network Equipment-Building System or NEBS. These are popular standards for telecom equipment.   GR-63-CORE is part of “NEBS Level 1,” which is for the least hazardous equipment.

Group 2: JEDEC Solid State Technology Organization

A. JEDEC 22B104C: Mechanical Shock

Evaluates component parts for electronic devices. This test evaluates the operating characteristics of a device after a shock. This is a form of “destructive testing” and can qualify components for use.

B. JEDEC 22B110A: Subassembly Mechanical Shock

Used to assess the fragility of printed wiring board components. This method tests them individually and also while attached to the board.

Group 3: Military Standards

A. MIL-STD-810

This test analyzes the limits of a test object in “real-world” environmental conditions.  This is done by recreating the effects of the real-world journey or “environment”of a product. Note that these tests do not attempt to specifically recreate a product’s real-world environment. These military testing standards are also used to test commercial goods.  This is certainly a great test for identifying a product’s weaknesses.

B. MIL-STD-202

Military test standards and specifications for electronics and components.

C. MIL-S-901

Military level specifications for gear that will be fixed on ships.

Group 4: International Electrotechnical Commission

A. IEC 60601-1

A widely recognized international testing standard for medical electrical equipment. The IEC 60601-1 are published by the International Electrotechnical Commission. There is a special focus on “basic safety and essential performance.” Required for the commercial sale of medical electrical equipment in certain nations.

B. IEC 60068-2

Testing standards for electrotechnology products regarding environmental conditions which include shock testing. It is also published by the International Electrotechnical Commission.

C. IEC 60950

International standards for testing battery powered information technology products with rated voltage not exceeding 600 Volts. The testing standards also extend to components and subassemblies.

Group 5: American Society For Testing Materials (ASTM)

A. ASTM D3332-99

Testing standards to evaluate a product’s shock fragility. This test is also used to chose the right buffer material for shipping containers.

B. ASTM D1596-14

This tests the cushioning material for packaging. Please note, this may refer to testing cushioning material alone. Meaning not including the packaging. 


10 papers detailing the best practices for testing and designing building structures. These specifically deal with making earthquake resistant structures and testing glued structural timber.

D. ASTM D6537-00

Used to evaluate package systems and select shipping methods for transported products.

Group 6: Other Standards

A. Ballistic Shock Testing

Ballistic Shock Testing is usually for testing armored combat vehicles. Ballistics test an object’s structure and performance when enduring “momentum exchanges.” Testing at this level also can usually “increase confidence” in an objects performance.

B. Crash Testing

Tests that check the safety performance of vehicles in different types of accidents.

C. Solder joint (or dry joint) reliability.

These tests are generally used for testing portable electronic devices, and circuit boards. These tests can often determine reliability at the system and component levels.

D. Environmental Handbook for Defence Materials

Also known as DEF STAN 00-35, is published by the British Defense Standards. These standards are tests to evaluate the durability of defense materials. These standards emphasize use of environmental data to select test methods and situations to simulate.

4. Check For Required Acceleration Levels

point of acceleration

Acceleration level generally depends on the type of testing you are doing. So if this doesnt apply to you, then dont worry.

To prepare a product for its real-world journey, there may be an exact acceleration level it needs to be tested at. A correct acceleration level will be a true test of how much damage a test subject can withstand.

Its a good pratice to find out the acceleration levels required for your test. Its also important to verify that a Shock Tester can attain the acceleration level you need.

Some products may need higher levels of acceleration than others. For example, a product that will sustain a rough transportation environment may need higher levels of acceleration.

Keep in mind,

Acceleration: The rate of change of velocity.

Do you know when the greatest acceleration occurs during a drop test? It occurs when a dropped object hits the platform (the ground) and rebounds (bounces) upward. However, you may not always need to invest in a different machine to increase the acceleration levels.

Ways to increase acceleration:

  • Increase the Drop Height (duh)
  • Use a Lower Mass Object
  • Use a Less Flexible Object
  • Drop the Object on its Flattest Surface

Want to dive deeper into the specifics of the acceleration levels of dropped objects? Check out this sweet PDF from Endevco.

5. Consider Buying A High-Quality Accelerometer


To accurately gauge acceleration you may need an accelerometer (if applicable). An accelerometer is an electromechanical gadget with sensors.

It is important to measure each test accurately and with the proper devices in the hope that lots of accurate data can be gathered. The data is above all, where the real story usually always lies.

Thats the point of testing right?

Tools like accelerometers are sometimes necessary investments when you buy a Shock Tester. An accelerometer can also usually determine the amount of tilt in a device with respect to Earth’s axis. This is the same device that helps cell phones orient themselves on a GPS.

In brief, this small device can gather a multitude of data. You can tell which direction something is moving in, if it will lose balance, or which way it’s leaning.

6. Machine Selection Considerations

pulse shapes

You’re going to think I sound like a broken record, but how you select your machine also completely depends on the needs of the project.

That said, shock tester selection generally depends on project specifications or standards. You may need to provide specific data to qualify your product or prove compliance.

The specifications you use may also include requirements for acceleration and time. By putting acceleration over time on a graph, you get the pulse shape, or in this sense, the shock pulse shape.

When shopping for shock test equipment, you can often search for machines by the shock pulse shape.

In general, consider the “real-world” journey or environment that needs to be imitated to get the right data.

Many companies hire engineers to mathematically calculate parameters before ordering their Shock Tester.  It can without a doubt, be very difficult for someone who is not properly trained to execute this correctly.

7. There Are Plenty of Safety Considerations

Safety Enclosure.

Shock testing is without a doubt in itself, destructive. That said, its good to be very careful when working with a Shock Tester.

As an illustration, here are a few safety equipment considerations related to Shock Testers:

  • Safety Bars: To keep things in place and prevent things from falling.
  • Fail-Safe Brakes: Stop the carriage from rebounding on certain machines like impact testers.
  • Safety Fence: Used to keep impact debris in an enclosed area. Also known as safety enclosures or guard systems.
  • Support Foundations: Absorb shock waves and prevent them from spreading.
  • Control Systems: For easily communicating with your machine.

All in all, it can be a good idea to consult an expert or request a safety demonstration from your supplier. For the same reason, its good to ensure all equipment is set up correctly and that you are properly trained before using it.

8. Make Sure You Cut Your Product Development Lead Time


decrease product development lead time

Just remember, all good ideas must die so great ideas can live. That logic can also be directly applied to emphasize the role of testing in product development.

If you are an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), is is likely that testing is part of your concept and development phases.

When you need to test something, you usually have a choice. Get your own machine or pay someone else to do the testing.

Compare costs.

On one hand…

Owning your own equipment can give you freedom to test more and cut wait times. This way, on the positive side, you can bring products to market faster (in theory).

On the other hand…

But is it likely you will only need to do the test once and never use the Shock Tester again? But what if you only do it once and it still may be cheaper to buy your own machine.


What if you make a mistake in purchasing the machine instead?

Given these points, consider reaching out to testing labs and suppliers. With this in mind, look at your project and weigh the costs. This is where your research especially counts.

All things considered, put extra effort into internal communication to verify these things.

As a matter of fact, according to Accenture, the design phases determine 80% of a product’s cost and quality.

Researching To Buy A Shock Tester?

Don’t Make A Mistake Or Get Ripped Off. Get The Best Solution Available. Tell Us About Your Project Today!

9. Data Reporting Software

For lots of engineers, the entire point of testing is of course the data. Most companies test in the hope that the data could be the key to moving forward and making money.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if you spent money on a Shock Tester but didn’t get accurate data? How could that sink your bottom line?

There is data reporting software specifically for reading and analyzing shocks.

Here are some considerable features when selecting data reporting software and equipment:

  • Reading different pulse shapes (acceleration/time)
  • Which inputs/outputs you need for your project
  • The ability to have repeating pulses
  • Changing amplitude levels
  • The ability to take notes during tests

10. You May Need a Custom Shock Testing Machine

its common to need a custom tester in the aerospace industry

Is your product or experiment cutting edge? In this case, it may present certain challenges to available shock tester systems.

On account of complexity, you may need a custom shock tester solution.

For instance, here are some reasons one might need a custom shock test machine:

  • Simulating larger explosions
  • Working with a new material
  • Faster Acceleration
  • More cycles
  • Simulating extreme or unique events

The reasons above can certainly be seen in industries such as the space, military and technology. Custom solutions may be significantly more expensive than buying a standard machine.

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11. Start The Buying Process Early, Slow Purchase Orders (POs) Can Delay Internal Projects

frustration during product development

A purchase order (PO) generally proves the conditions of an original deal. It also helps make sure your budget is properly spent.

Issuing a PO is a custom practice for official purchases on behalf of a business in general, not just for a Shock Tester.

The downside of this, sometimes your supplier is very slow in issuing the PO. With this in mind, never underestimate the inefficiency of any organization.

As can be seen, starting the buying process as early as possible can be a good practice. In short, if your project has a timeline, adding a time cushion can be essential.

Its important to realize how good planning can save your product development lead time.

12. Applications for Shock Testing

industrial testing building with many applications

Lastly, there are many applications that can improve the quality of your testing or help you achieve specific overall goals. For example:

  • Filters: Used to eliminate unwanted interference in data recording during tests.
  • Loading Devices: To ease the placement of the test object onto the Shock Tester.
  • Intermittence Testing Applications: Verify the different parts of your test are functioning properly.
  • Lifting and Positioning System: For ease in positioning equipment and absorbing shocks.


On the whole, buying large capital equipment like a Shock Tester is a large investment for most companies. For that reason, it is important to be an informed buyer.

Becoming an informed buyer for such complex equipment can undoubtedly be very difficult.

Truthfully, this article barely scratches the surface. At the end of the day, your Shock Tester needs depends on the nature of your project.

Hence these factors can all make the research process very time consuming. Not to mention you wouldnt want to miss any information.

To sum up, it may be in your best interest to talk to an expert.

We invite you to schedule a consultatation about buying a Shock Tester for your project with one of our experts. Contact us below now!

Consult A Shock Test Machine Expert


Do you want help shopping for a Shock Tester? Maybe you have very specific needs? Have a simple question? Want to tell us about your project? We are here to help.
Contact us today to chat about your project or all your industrial equipment needs.

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