The stress testing of latex condoms by an air burst procedure has been slow in gaining industry acceptance because questions have been raised regarding the influence of the test apparatus on the likelihood of breakage occurring where the condom is attached to the inflation device. It was desired to locate the areas at which the condoms tend to burst and thus corroborate or disprove these claims. Several factors associated with the bursting condom demanded the use of special instrumentation to detect and study the burst initiation process. Microsecond duration electronic flashes were used for the initial stages of the investigation. Although the absolute point of initiation of a given burst could not be photographed, these high speed studies tend to indicate that the most likely place for high quality condoms to break is not where they are attached to the inflation device but at an intermediate area between the base and the tip of the condom. In addition, tear propagation characteristics and velocities were determined with a delayed-flash technique, a double-slit strip method and a rotating drum framing camera.

Publication Date



The initial stages of this work were supported by a grant from the Science and Materials Division of the Food and Drug Administration. I [the author] would like to thank my collaborators in that effort, Mr. Roger Stube of Consumers Union, Mt. Vernon, NY and Mr. Bruce Voeller of the Mariposa Foundation, Toppanga, CA. The author also wishes to thank the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences of the College of Graphic Arts and Photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology for putting at his disposal laboratory space and providing the opportunity to complete this research. The author is grateful to the Safetex Corporation, Lyndhurst, NJ for providing condoms for this research free of cost. Article also available at: http://www.rit.edu/~andpph/articles.html Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type

Technical Report

Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)


RIT – Main Campus