Similar to ASTM D1621 and ISO 884, ISO 3386/1 is a testing standard designed to measure the compression stress/strain (load divided by specimen surface area at a certain compression percentage) characteristic of cellular flexible polymeric material (i.e. foam). This is a general guide designed to help you understand the basic test procedure and equipment needed to test your products and materials to this standard. When you are ready to perform this test, please refer to and follow the exact specifications in the official ISO 3386 document.


  1. Make sure your specimen meets the specified max/min dimensions and density (typical specimen pictured below).
    ISO 3386 foam
  2. Center the sample in between the compression platens.
  3. Compress the sample until the indicated compression percentage is reached.
  4. Separate the platens until the sample returns to its original thickness.
  5. Repeat this procedure three more times, record load at the indicated compression percentage during the fourth test.


  1. Compressive stress (load divided by surface area) at indicated compression percentage.ISO 3386 Report
    iso 3386 graph

Equipment Recommended:

  1. A servo controlled (constant rate of motion) tension/compression testing machine capable of performing a compression test at the indicated speed. The eXpert 7600 single column system and the eXpert 2600 dual column system are ideal for this type of application.
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    eXpert 7600 w/ eP2 (left) and eXpert 2600 w/ eP2 (right)
  2. A testing machine controller capable of graphing a load/position curve. MTESTQuattro, a software-based testing controller, comes with a large library of preconfigured test profiles, including ISO 3386-1. MTESTQuattro is capable of displaying a live load/position curve and automatically performing all the calculations required for ISO 3386. The eP2 digital controller, a standalone touch panel unit, will display live load and compression percentage (the eP2 is capable of displaying a live load/position curve when paired with GaugeSafe communication software).
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    MTESTQuattro (left) and eP2 Digital Controller (right)
  3. A pair of compression platens wider than the sample in all directions. The platens should be perforated to allow air to escape. ADMET offers a full line of square and circular compression platens.
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