Environmental Test Chambers

5 Important Considerations for Starting a New Testing Project


Planning for a test chamberThe world today continually demands new and innovative solutions to real‐world problems. In 1940, we began a journey that has provided us the opportunity to be a part of the innovation process for many companies across many industries. While the products and processes have changed, the need for providing quality products and solutions to your customers has remained as steadfast as ever.

We are honored to be able to provide environmental test chambers a part of, not only the research and development process, but also the design verification and validation processes. This insight has granted us a unique viewpoint of the development process and given us the opportunity to share 5 considerations which are critical to any new testing project.

Material Type:
If you are considering buying an environmental test chamber, you already know different materials respond to heat and cold differently. But consider how each of those materials will retain the temperature after the chamber switches to the opposite cycle of heating or cooling. If they are good conductors, they will likely absorb and release temperature stresses more quickly. If not, they may need to soak much longer to stabilize at a set point. This will have an immediate impact on your chamber temperature change rates, length of test, and chamber performance.

By discussing the material types that are used throughout the product being tested with the environmental test chamber manufacturer, their engineers can help compensate for these variances by adjusting the refrigeration type, system size, compressor power, and airflow inside the chamber. In some cases special modifications can be made to the test chamber itself to add additional efficiencies and performance that can improve the entire testing project.

Outgassing:
Some materials will release flammable gasses when they are subjected to extreme heat. If any of these materials are present in your product and they release gasses into the chamber they could cause a volatile reaction when the gas passes the ni‐chrome heating element used to warm the chamber.

Ni‐chrome heating elements can have an operational temperature range in excess of 2000°F. The air inside the test chambers will come in direct contact with these elements, and in some cases, if flammable gasses are present in the airstream a volatile reaction could occur. The reaction can be so intense that the test chamber could rupture, potentially causing harm to people or property near the chamber. If planned properly, steps can be taken to alter the design of the chamber or the test procedure to accommodate for this unlikely, but very possible event.

Live-Load:
If you have a test requirement that demands that the DUT (device under test) needs to be operational during the testing procedure, you need to consider that when sizing the test chamber. For example, if a DUT creates 10,000 watts of heat under normal operation and your test chamber isn’t sized to accommodate that extra heat, the chamber may not seem to be working as well as it should. Also, are you only testing one of these products at a time, or multiple products? Make sure you multiply your calculated live-load to accommodate all products that will be under test.

Size the chamber for the future:
Buying an environmental test chamber is an investment. Have you done any forecasting of future projects? Are there other testing projects at your facility that will be next in line when the current project is over? If so, will they have the same requirements? Any details you have about future projects can also be addressed by your customer support engineer. It’s worth having the conversation.

Sometimes it is best to spend a little bit more up front to ensure cost effectiveness and longevity down the road. Remember; you get what you pay for with environmental test chambers.

Find an appropriate location where the chamber will be installed:
Test chambers have many different requirements. Depending on the type of chamber, the requirements could be vastly different. Is there adequate power available? If the chamber is water cooled, or has a humidity option, does it have access to an acceptable water supply? If you need a high rate of change, do you have access to liquid nitrogen (LN2)? When the unit arrives will it fit through the door?

Having the location ready to accommodate a new test chamber will alleviate a lot of headaches when the chamber arrives.

When considering all possible variables, you can reduce the time it will take to get your project rolling and get your products to market.

We have the experience and expertise to provide the right solution for your project. If you want to get a jump start on your testing by using our A2LA certified test laboratories, you may even be eligible for a discount on testing services. Contact us for more information.