Thermal shock chambers are used to replicate the conditions of sudden and drastic changes in temperature in order to test the capability of a product, material or part component to withstand the resulting stress and strain. Environmental chambers evaluate product quality and reliability, and identify manufacturing flaws and weaknesses in those products before they are released to the general market, or used in the manufacturing of other products.
Industries such as consumer, medical, automotive, aerospace and construction use thermal shock chamber testing to ensure the reliability of their products. Thermal shock causes cracking or faulting along lines of stress as a result from the conflict between uneven element expansion and compression according to relative temperature. As one section cools or heats faster than another, the pressure placed on a material becomes greater than the strength of that material and a crack is formed. These cracks can be severe enough to cause structure failure. Glass and ceramics are particularly susceptible to thermal shock damage due to their low thermal conductivity and their tendency to expand and compress unevenly, and so test chambers are an important part of the manufacturing process for products and structures using these materials. Read More…
The design and construction of the test chamber has to be carefully considered. As it is a process test, test chambers need to have a means of viewing and monitoring the testing procedure either through a viewing hole, or through a video feed. In some cases, an environmental test chamber will have a "reach-in" capability in order for the testing engineer to handle the product or material being tested. The method of process control is another consideration to be undertaken as control panels can be either analog or digital, fed by a computer or the web etc. Environmental test chambers are designed with the capacity to replicate extreme environmental conditions. Temperature chambers can typically reach temperatures above 1000 degrees
Fahrenheit, and cryogenic chambers produce temperatures on the other end of the scale achieving lows of -200 degrees Fahrenheit, or even lower with the help of liquid nitrogen. In addition to temperature variations which can be further tested by thermal shock chambers, humidity and air moisture content can be replicated with humidity ranging from 10-100% in most humidity chambers.
Altitude chambers simulate extremely high altitudes to test the effects of pressure and air change, and routinely 10-8 Torr levels are achieved in vacuum environmental chambers. Test chambers have to be carefully constructed in order to achieve controlled and consistent testing.