If you construct outdoor equipment such as furniture, construction materials, farming equipment or automotive parts, you need to protect your products from the harsh effects of sunlight and elevated moisture. However, traditional weather-testing methods can take too much of your valuable time. When you want to get a product out on the market quickly, you need an accelerated program designed to test your materials against harsh weather conditions.
Accelerated weathering testing labs give you the tools you need to evaluate your products’ durability over time.
What Is Accelerated Weathering?
Products designed for outdoor use face unique challenges in their engineering. Extreme sunlight and excess moisture from rain or snow will take a toll on a product’s appearance and functionality over time, which often makes outdoor products expire far quicker than ones intended for indoor use.
As an engineer, you need to test your products quickly and efficiently. You can’t wait for years to examine your materials’ durability against natural weathering and damages. With an accelerated weathering test, you can rapidly reproduce the effects of many years’ worth of outdoor exposure.
An accelerated weathering test simulates severe weather conditions and measures your products’ durability over time. Parts and finished products can be sent to an accelerated weathering testing lab and monitored through the lab’s weathering chamber or outdoor weathering systems. The system exposes the parts or products to severe conditions including ultraviolet light, extreme cold and hot temperatures, varying humidity levels and corrosive elements.
Once the tests are performed, engineers then monitor degradation levels including haze, yellowness index, color changes and strength. These results are recorded and sent back to you so that any flaws can be eliminated in future trials, resulting in a higher-quality finished product.
Types of Testing
There are two main types of accelerated weathering testing commonly used to detect product failures: accelerated outdoor weathering and laboratory accelerated weathering. Many manufacturers use a combination of laboratory testing and natural outdoor exposure to test their products under a variety of conditions:
- Accelerated outdoor weathering systems: These are constructed with solar concentration systems made of motorized mirrors that track and reflect sunlight onto the specimen board day after day. They are placed outdoors and expose large-area samples to the natural effects of wind and water.
- Laboratory accelerated weathering chambers: These allow engineers to expose products to weather conditions on-demand in closed indoor boxes. Laboratory testing provides the greatest control of exposure factors. This process rapidly speeds up the aging process and can produce years’ worth of outdoor exposure in little time.
How Laboratory Accelerated Weathering Tests Works
Once materials are sent to a testing lab, engineers place them on a tray inside an accelerated weathering chamber. There they will be subjected to a program designed to mimic the weather conditions which they will likely face in everyday use, which can be customized to meet different industry standards.
Several UV lamps are used to reproduce the damaging UV rays of different amounts of sunlight, while various sprays simulate the spray, moisture and humidity of conditions such as rain, snow and dew. Lab engineers routinely remove the specimens during testing to determine their durability.
When testing is complete, engineers analyze dozens of potential failure methods, including:
- Fading and color changes
- Yellowing of polymers
- Decreased flame resistance
- Cracking and peeling
- Loss of strength
- Warping and blistering
- Loss of functionality
Benefits of Accelerated Weathering in Manufacturing
If you’re a manufacturer of outdoor products, accelerated weathering testing can give you critical insight into your materials’ durability and usability. Once you understand how your products handle inclement weather conditions, you’ll be able to improve them before sending them out to be sold. Accelerated weathering tests can also help you assess customer complaints and provide better care instructions for owners’ manuals.
Engineers of cars and other high-power equipment are held to a high standard, and accelerated weathering can ensure these products meet regulatory requirements. In these cases, testing is required before a product can be made available for sale. But even when testing is not necessary, quality measurements may be highly beneficial and can help maintain customer confidence in your brand. Testing results can provide an audit trail in the event of a lawsuit, while product quality maintenance prevents litigation, product failures, warranty expenses and damages to brand reputation.
Manufacturers of any outdoor product or material can benefit from accelerated weathering tests. Some products that are especially prone to wear and tear due to harsh weather include:
- Outdoor furniture: Such as tables, chairs, sofas, umbrellas, porch swings, stadium seating and playground equipment.
- Fabrics and textiles: Such as outdoor carpets and flooring, apparel, pool siding and covers, industrial tents and awnings.
- Paints and coatings: For houses, vehicles and furniture.
- Plastics and polymers: Used in medical devices, plastic pipelines and fences.
- Construction materials: Such as asphalt shingles, metal sheets, vinyl siding, weather seals, gutters, downspouts, windows and doors.
- Automotive parts, tires and maintenance equipment: For passenger vehicles, motorcycles, trains, boats and planes.
- Outdoor equipment: Such as agricultural equipment parts, lawn mowers, saws and snow blowers.
Contact Quality Testing Services, LLC for Your Testing Needs
Quality Testing Services, LLC has been an industry leader in outdoor product testing in the Southern California area for over 20 years. We’re a small, highly skilled lab with engineers trained to focus on your unique needs.
At QTS, we’re small enough to give each project the care it deserves, while we’re large enough to provide reliable results and high-quality customer care. We offer a variety of testing services for outdoor products with flexibility and fair prices tailored to your needs, with accelerated weathering tests that are ASTM, ISO, DIN and SAE compliant.
When you choose a testing company, you need a partner you can rely on and who understands your industry’s demands. We want to be a reliable partner for you and will collaborate with you to help you create the highest-quality product possible. Contact us online today to learn more about our testing services, or call us at (714) 903-1155.