Environmental Test Chambers

August 14, 2015

For decades, environmental test chambers have been used to study products with countless applications in fields such as aerospace, artificial intelligence, automotive, electronics, solar cell, medical, industrial and consumer research. In these industries, the sample or material to be tested must be exposed to defined variations of environmental factors to study the effects, or even as preparation for future studies.

 

The conditions an environmental test chamber is able to replicate are: temperature set-point (or variations), moisture in the form of relative humidity or rain, electromagnetic radiation, vibration, weathering, salt spraying, sunlight exposure/UV degradation, and vacuum. The type of testing involved will determine the chamber type; chambers come in a variety of sizes and are designed with different functionality and options.

Prepared specimens or materials are placed inside the chamber and then subjected to defined levels of environmental stimuli to determine the degree to which they react. Resulting by-products are also measured and studied.

 

 

Types of Chambers

 

Humidity or temperature chambers are used for climatic testing, while vibration and stress chambers are commonly used for mechanical testing, such as evaluating the performance of the product under vibration or shock. “Stress” is often tested using pressure variables, or vacuum.

 

Stress and vibration chambers are also used for electronics, solar or fuel cell, and automotive products, where test requirements are very demanding. The goal is to push beyond what is “normal” to measure limitations of the material.

 

The Highly Accelerated Life Test, formally referred to as the HALT test, is undertaken to discover potential flaws and to ultimately improve the product in the design phase. The chamber will simulate various stimuli, such as vibration, burn-in, humidity, voltage, and thermal cycling, which could cause numerous weaknesses in design or production.

 

Conversely, a compliance test called HASS (Highly Accelerated Stress Screen) is conducted during production to identify flaws prior to commercialization. These tests use temperature and humidity variables to spot potential defects.

 

Environmental test chambers for manufacturing and production have been used for decades, and are capable of creating stresses that are far greater than what is considered normal for commercial products.

 

Chamber Designs

 

Environmental chambers can be designed as walk-in, bench-top, floor-mount, reach-in or drive-in configurations. Depending on the function they perform, they can range in size from portable devices to giant rooms, such as NASA’s vacuum chamber in the Space Power Facility, the largest of its kind.

 

Floor-mounted and bench-top chambers are the most widely used. While most chambers are made from steel, the materials used for their inner and outer walls vary according to application. When used for food packaging or pharmaceutical applications, it is likely that chambers will have glass doors for visual access. The chambers’ intended applications will also affect the type of heaters, coolers, condensers, evaporators, controllers, sensors and other modules used. Newer test chambers have evolved to keep pace with developments in product testing requirements, such as those for biological and military applications. These chambers are often customized to meet all required environmental testing requirements and devices used for measurement are highly accurate and reliable.

 

Compared to their predecessors, newer designs have smaller footprints, and are easier to operate. Their user interfaces are similar to touch-screen Windows displays, as opposed to the legacy scroll electronics. If they are web-enabled, they can be programmed and operated online.

 

At Avalonair, we provide service and maintenance packages for the simplest chamber to the most complex climatic test facility, with contracts tailored to suit the exact requirements of the customer. If you require any further information on the service we provide, then please use our contact form. Alternatively, you can give us a call on 914-207-7167.

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