The Definitive Guide to ASTM D882 - Tensile Testing of Thin Plastic Film

thin film testing to ASTM D882

How to Perform a Tensile Test on Thin Plastic Film to ASTM D882

Written by Charlie Pryor 

Thin plastic films and sheeting are a popular choice for packaging and can be found protecting many everyday items from leftover food to consumer goods. It is critical that plastics manufacturers and packaging companies obtain an accurate mechanical profile of the plastic films they are producing to ensure that they meet the required expectations. ASTM D882 is a common testing standard that is used to determine the tensile properties of thin plastic films and is commonly used for in-line quality control purposes. This guide is designed to introduce you to the basic elements of an ASTM D882 tensile test and will provide an overview of the equipment, software, and samples needed. However, anyone planning to conduct ASTM D882 testing should not consider this guide an adequate substitute for reading and following the full standard.

Separator Film Testing for Electric Vehicle Batteries

Though ASTM D882 is not an official standard for testing EV battery separator films, this standard is being modified to evaluate the mechanical properties of these materials. Separator films are a critical part of lithium-ion and other liquid electrolyte batteries that separate the anode and cathode. The most common material used for separator film is polyolefin, a polymer film that is strong enough to withstand the winding operation during assembly as well as uneven plating of lithium on the anode due to extensive use. Safer and stronger separator material more effectively prevents contact between the anode and cathode, while thinner material helps reduce the weight of each battery and improve energy density.

Testing these materials in accordance to ASTM D882 can be very beneficial for quality control checks as well as in R&D when trying to determine the optimal separator film solution. Additionally, as is the case for many other thin film materials, separator film is anisotropic and so is recommended to be tested in multiple different cutting/testing directions.

Learn More About Electric Vehicle Testing



What Does it Measure?

ASTM D882 is specifically designed for testing plastics that are less than 1 mm in thickness, and can be used to test any type of plastic specimen within this defined thickness range. Plastics thicker than 1 mm should be tested to ASTM D638. ASTM D882 testing is conducted on a universal testing machine (also called a tensile testing machine) at a constant crosshead speed. The following are the most commonly measured tensile properties:

 Test Method and Specimens

During ASTM D882 testing, specimens are pulled in tension until failure. The crosshead speed is dependent on the length of the specimen and can be calculated by multiplying the initial grip separation (length of the specimen) by the initial strain rate in mm/mm x min. The initial strain rate is conditional on the maximum elongation of the specimen at break. Because plastic films and sheeting tend to be highly elastic, higher crosshead speeds are commonly required. One critical factor in testing to ASTM D882 is using an appropriate preload. Thin film specimens are usually relaxed and not taut when loaded into grips for testing. A preload, which can be easily configured in Bluehill Universal testing software, helps to remove any slack in the specimen prior to recording data during testing, ensuring that results are accurate and repeatable. 

This test is meant for specimens uniform to within 10% of the thickness over the length of the specimen between the grips. Thicker specimens approaching the 1 mm thickness limit must be uniform to within 5%. Specimens need to be between 5.0 and 25.4 mm wide, and at least 50 mm longer than the grip separation used during testing. The standard specimen gauge length for testing is 250 mm. However, if this is not possible, then a minimum specimen length of 100 mm (50 mm gauge length) is acceptable as long as it is established that this does not affect the results. If the sample is of isotropic material, the standard requires at least five specimens to be tested from each sample. If the sample is suspected of being anisotropic, however, then at least ten specimens must be tested, five along their long axis, and five along the supposed anisotropic axis. Furthermore, specimens used to determine modulus cannot be used to determine tensile strength or any other tensile properties, which means that anyone testing to ASTM D882 would be wise to produce a large number of specimens in order to appropriately measure all of the relevant properties. 

Test System

Due to the low break forces of these specimens, ASTM D882 testing is typically performed on a single column universal testing machine such as Instron's 34SC series or 68SC series systems. Complications can arise, however, due to the fact that many thin film specimens exhibit high elongation at break. When pairing these specimens with the standard 250 mm gauge length, it can sometimes require an extra height single column frame or possibly a dual column frame in order to test until break. Instron's 6800 series is ideal for labs desiring advanced functionality in their test systems.


ASTM D882 Test Setup
1) 6800 Series Universal Testing System
2) Bluehill Universal Software
3) 2580 Series Load Cell
4) 2712 Series Pneumatic Grips


Instron system


Due to the flexible, delicate nature of these plastic specimens, gripping can be a challenge. Pneumatic side action grips provide an adjustable inlet air pressure to ensure that specimens can be clamped sufficiently throughout the test. Pneumatic grips are preferable to screw action or hand-tightened grips when testing thin films, as the latter grips adds variability to the clamping pressure and can allow for more inconsistency in test results and a higher chance of jaw breaks or slippage. In some cases for very thin film specimens, self-tightening roller grips can also be used.

1 kN Model | 2712-041
1 kN Model | 2713-007


Tensile testing of thin films and foils presents more challenges than the testing of rigid specimens, and most thin films and foils used in EV battery manufacturing are extremely thin, with a thickness of no more than 15 microns. These materials are easily damaged by mishandling; even the simple act of gripping a thin film or foil can damage the specimen. Correctly aligning such delicate specimens is a major pain point for many testing labs, and the use of a precision specimen loader device is recommended. These devices use a detachable alignment clip and linear rail to guide the specimens into the grips, and are available in multiple sizes to accommodate a wide range of specimen dimensions.

Jaw Faces

Because ASTM D882 specimens are fragile, jaw face selection is also critical to successful testing. Serrated jaw faces are not recommended because they can cause damage to the specimen when gripping, leading to jaw breaks or inaccurate results. Rubber faces do not damage thin film specimens and have been shown to prevent specimen slippage as they thin out in the faces during the testing process, making rubber faces paired with pneumatic grips the preferred combination. This combination also produces the most repeatable results. 

Rubber jaw faces should match the width of the gripped or tabbed end of the specimen. The most common face size for this type of material is 25 mm x 25 mm (1 in x 1 in). The matching width allows for ease of specimen alignment, which is critical for good breaks and accurate test results. In the event that the specimen width is on the smaller side of the tolerance for the standard, it is necessary to have jaw faces at least as wide as the specimen, but wider is also acceptable in this case.

Line contact gripping also is a possibility for film specimens that are too thin for rubber faces. Line contact faces include one smooth jaw face and an opposite face that is rounded, helping distribute the clamping force along one single line perpendicular to the crosshead’s movement. The most critical aspect of gripping is to avoid slippage when testing, as well as maintain an even stress distribution throughout each specimen while testing.

Automated Thin Film Testing for Electric Vehicle Batteries

With explosive growth projected for the electric vehicle industry, battery manufacturers should consider scaling their testing capacities as soon as possible to meet the projected increase in demand. As testing volume increases, throughput and efficiency become more important. Instron offers many different solutions for increasing the productivity of your test lab, including both automated and semi-automated systems that are ideal for testing high volumes of thin film specimens.


Instron's Bluehill® Universal testing software makes it easy to report calculations in compliance with the standard. The software also comes with a pre-configured test method for ASTM D882 testing, complete with specific test parameters and calculations to help ensure compliance.

Bluehill Universal ASTM D882