Environmental test chambers are used to test the long-term effects of various environmental conditions on a wide range of products.
These test chambers are designed to recreate conditions that different products would encounter in the span of their useful life. Industrial and electronics companies commonly use environmental test chambers to evaluate how their products endure or perform in normal to extreme conditions. This provides manufacturers with valuable information about product decay and degradation and helps predict the lifespan of a product.
For manufacturers, environmental chambers allow for the evaluation of product quality and reliability while also highlighting product flaws or weaknesses before the product is released to the public. There are many different kinds of test chambers which simulate various environmental conditions, and many chambers can control several different conditions at once. Some commonly tested conditions include: extreme temperatures, sudden temperature variations, humidity, moisture, and varying levels of salt water. These can be tested in temperature chambers, humidity chambers, and salt spray chambers, but there are many other kinds of test chambers like AGREE chambers, altitude chambers, thermal shock chambers, and vacuum test chambers. Read More…
Additional test conditions may also include airborne and structural vibrations, shock, dust and sand, and UV radiation. The breadth of tests performed is incredibly broad, so it is no surprise that test chambers also come in a broad range of sizes and configurations. From simple and small benchtop chambers to larger and more complex walk-in chambers, there is a test chamber to accommodate just about any condition or product. They can be used to test small electronic devices or large aircraft or vehicles.
Since so many manufacturers depend on environmental test chambers to determine the reliability and quality of their products, careful consideration should be given to their design and construction. There are all kinds of available features and components, but it is really important to consider which components will provide the most accurate results and most beneficial features. For example, some tests may require the operator to see the inside of the chamber or even manipulate the interior of the chamber during the test. View ports can be added on the sides of the chamber, cameras can be placed on the inside, reach-in ports can be included to allow access from the outside, or a system of controls can be used from the outside to handle components on the interior.
However, these extra features should be chosen based on the type of test conditions and the required accuracy of the results. Interference from the exterior of the chamber can radically change the results and therefore, depreciate the value of the information gained from the tests. In addition to human interference, exterior environmental and climate conditions should also be considered carefully to ensure that they do not skew test results. For the most accurate and useful results, strict control should be maintained throughout the entirety of the testing process.
While many test chambers are utilized to reproduce normal environmental conditions, they can also be used to create extreme conditions and test the limits of products. Cryogenic chambers can achieve temperatures below -200 degrees Fahrenheit, and on the other end of the scale, temperature chambers can reach temperatures of more than 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity chambers can test humidity and air moisture extremes, producing humidity levels ranging from 10-100% humidity. Altitude chambers can also test extreme pressures and air variations, and vacuum test chambers can test extremely low pressures. While many products will never actually encounter environmental extremes, it is important to know how different materials and products will respond to the additional stress. This can lead to product improvements and can help identify special precautions that should be taken.
Environmental test chambers can be utilized in practically any industry which creates products that will encounter degrading or damaging environmental conditions. Some industries that make extensive use of test chambers include: automotive, construction, engineering, food processing, medical, pharmaceutical, packaging, and consumer industries. Products that we use every day, like car parts, make-up, medicines, and kitchen appliances, are tested thoroughly to ensure durability, effectiveness, and reliability in common environmental conditions. Testing leads to better products for consumers and leads to lower warranty claim expenses for manufacturers. Though testing can take a great deal of time and effort, it is a wise manufacturing choice that will reduce long-term costs and improve product quality.