Explosive Testing of Window Systems – the Underlying Double-Standard

By Kenneth W. Herrle, P.E., and Larry M. Bryant, Ph.D.

Additional Suggestions

Several additional suggestions that are not in either the ASTM or GSA test standard, but should be used by the test sponsor to help insure a successful test series include:

  • Performing a pre and post-test walkthrough/inspection of the test setup with the test sponsor. During this inspection, be sure to check for correct installation of the test windows and be on the lookout for anything that may be out of place or doesn’t look correct. Be sure to alert the test sponsor of any concerns.
  • Being prepared for the unexpected. Anomalies sometimes happen in explosive testing, so it’s best to know this before hand. In addition, many test sponsors arrive at the test bed with preconceived expectations of what should happen and how their product should perform. Please be aware that the purpose of the explosive test is to determine the real-world response of the window system (what really happens). Some test items perform better than expected, some perform worse, and some perform just as expected.
  • Taking time to make sure that everything in the test setup is correct before proceeding with the test. Explosive testing is very expensive and there is only one chance to get it right. Do not rush.
  • Shipping extra test samples to the test site. Window samples are sometimes damaged during shipment. In tests using multiple window systems, shortage of one window equates to loss of a tested system and a resulting higher per-unit test cost.
  • Being sure to ask plenty of questions and expect the test provider to provide sufficient answers. 

Additional measures can be taken to ensure compliance with test standards, but test sponsors must be aware that due to the complex nature of explosive testing, data, high-speed photography, or other critical test items may not perform as intended due to unforeseen circumstances.  Test providers should utilize a high level of quality control to mitigate the risk, but there is no guarantee that the testing will always perform as desired.  


Although explosive testing of window systems can provide a significant contribution toward protecting the occupants of constructed facilities, caution must be exercised to assure that all goals and requirements of the testing are met.  With careful planning, well-informed decisions can be made which should lead to an efficient, productive, and valid explosive test series.



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