Explosive testing is typically performed in either shock tubes or in large-scale, open-air arenas. Shock tube testing is generally less expensive but is not as realistic as open-air tests.
Shock Tube Testing. During shock tube testing, the test specimen is mounted at the end of a structural tube. A pressure pulse, generated at the opposite end of the tube from the test specimen, travels down the tube and impacts the test specimen. Pros and cons of shock tube testing include:
In general, shock tube testing can be a useful tool for conducting expedient, inexpensive snapshots of the hazard mitigation potential for small specimens. However, a full-scale specimen will most likely have to undergo open-air testing to receive true validation within the government and commercial markets.
Large-Scale Arena Testing
Large-scale arena testing is conducted on an outdoor test bed using actual high-energy explosives and full-scale test specimens. The pros and cons of large-scale arena testing include:
In general, large-scale arena testing allows documentation of a real-world response of multiple, full-scale test samples in an actual, high-energy explosive environment and generally provides more validity in both the government and commercial markets than shock tube testing.
Both the ASTM and GSA test standards allow the use of either shock tube or large-scale arena testing.