You don’t want to risk moving a product to market without guaranteeing it performs as expected. You want to avoid unforeseen mechanical or manufacturing failures. Effective temperature cycling testing is a primary means of shoring up liabilities and delivering reliable, quality products to consumers.
There’s a wide variety of environmental test chambers out there. Here’s a tour of temperature cycling and the features common to the best temperature chambers available today.
What Is Temperature Cycling?
Put simply, temperature cycling subjects products, materials, or components to alternating high and low temperatures to determine their durability and breaking points.
These repeated temperature changes are designed to simulate the normal use conditions a device under testing (DUT) is likely to encounter in the real world. Temperature cycling aims to catch early-term defects, such as breaking, cracking, seal failure, short-circuiting, warpage, and debonding. Mechanical failures caused by thermocycling are sometimes referred to as fatigue failure.
Temperature cycling is similar to thermal shock testing. The primary difference between the two is found in how rapid those temperature changes are. Shock testing exposes devices to opposite, extreme temperatures immediately while temperature cycling is a bit more gradual.
In cycling, a DUT may soak in a test chamber for hours at a specific temperature before it swiftly drops to another lower temperature level. Then it’s ramped up again. Cycle and repeat. While every manufacturer has their own tests depending on what products they’re building, tests are run until DUT samples pass all evaluations.
Temperature cycling is routinely used to evaluate product reliability in electronics and electrical components, including batteries, navigation systems, vehicles, medical devices, semiconductors, and airplanes—basically, anything that needs to withstand the environmental conditions we live in.
Proper functioning can mean life or death, in many cases. Temperature cycling is an important process of ensuring quality and reliability.
Fortunately, if you can get your hands on the best temperature chambers for temperature cycling, you can rest assured your products are safe and capable of functioning at the highest level. So what features should you look for in a temperature cycling test chamber?
Features of the Best Temperature Cycling Test Chambers
When looking for a premium temperature cycling chamber, there are a few features you’ll want to focus on. Prioritize these five characteristics that guarantee performance, ensure accuracy, and give you control. That way, you’ll get results you and your customers can trust.
- A powerful compressor is central to a capable temperature cycling chamber. These enable chambers to quickly change the temperature within a workspace. Larger compressors help the rise/ramp-up rates increase between 3-5°C per minute, running different temperatures through profiles set in the controller. The standard pulldown rates range between 1-4 °C per minute.
- Performance temperature chambers typically have a range from -70°C to 180°C (-94°F to 356°F). It’s common for the circulation system to rely on a baffle and fan design combination. This helps optimize for temperature (and humidity) conditions within your chamber workspace.
- The heating systems are fashioned with open ceramic-core nichrome heaters, giving your chambers a reliable and accurate way to control the temperature within ±0.5°C.
- On the other hand, its cooling system provides a few options. A standard chamber features a self-contained mechanical refrigeration system with cascading effect and an air-cooling condenser. Additional options will include a water-cooling condenser and boost cooling with liquid nitrogen (LN2) or carbon dioxide (CO2) for even faster pulldown rates.
- Another important aspect of temperature chambers for cycling is remote monitoring. If you leave a device soaking for hours, you can step away from the lab and still check in on the test through technology like AESONE CONNECT. You can also stop tests as soon as errors are detected.
Lastly, the best temperature cycling chamber for you will match your specific testing standards, which will vary depending on the nature of your product. For instance, MIL-STD is common within the automotive industry.
That’s a conversation to have with a trusted manufacturer. Associated Environmental Systems has a full line of temperature and humidity chambers for cycling. Its FD and HD Series even feature four performance levels to choose from, giving you the change rates you need.
AES also offers support and service that will keep your chambers running for years. Contact AES to learn more about finding testing solutions that are right for you.