Environmental Testing – Like HALT – Improves Product Reliability & Ruggedness

McKinley Air Force Lab can reduce air temperature to -80°F

Environmental testing has nothing to do with an evaluation of the earth’s environment.   Not the environmental testing we’re writing about here anyway.

Also known as environmental simulation, environmental testing involves putting your electronic product through environmental extremes and then determining what hardware failures occur.   This process is crucial for pinpointing design flaws for ensuring the reliability and ruggedness of your equipment.

Environmental testing is split into two types: climatic and dynamic.

Climatic testing is performed in climatic test chambers.  They range in size from desktop to hangar-sized.   The McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida is 55,000 square feet, and accommodates a hulking Lockheed C5 Galaxy transport aircraft.

Dynamic testing is performed on shakers and similar devices.  It includes testing for shock, vibration, and earthquake/seismic.  See a video of MET’s MIL-S-901D Hammer Shock rig being constructed and deployed.

Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) is a form of environmental testing that combines climatic and dynamic components.  It integrates vibration into the chamber environment, where temperature and humidity extremes can also be applied simultaneously.   HALT is a faster, more effective version of the old environmental stress screening (ESS).

Testing should be conducted during the development of your hardware, so that all failures can be determined before the design is finalized.   It is much better to fail during environmental testing than to fail in service, possibly causing user harm and often leading to warranty or recall expense.

With HALT, failure is a good thing, although it might not feel like it.  It serves as a catalyst for redesign that improves the durability and ruggedness of the device, allowing you to lower your product’s infant mortality rate and reduce claims under your product warranty.

MET Labs owns and operates dozens of environmental test chambers and an impressive shock/vibe/seismic capacity in multiple locations across North America, as well as 24-hour HALT Testing on both coasts.  Contact us for a free fast-response quotation.

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