Environmental Stress Screening, or ESS, is an umbrella term for a number of testing procedures that simulate the environmental conditions in which a product will eventually be used. In preparation for their real-world applications, products that have material or design defects need to be made stronger and more reliable — otherwise, they may wind up costing their manufacturers a fortune in warranty claims and even lawsuits.
In many instances, Environmental Stress Testing is either a legal or industry prerequisite. And in plenty of other situations, an ESS test helps enable reliability engineers and product managers to manufacture a more robust and desirable product. With so much investment and brand reputation depending on every electronic product’s successful release these days, it’s worth taking a closer look at what ESS testing service is all about, the reasons it’s employed and — above all — what you can expect from a quality ESS testing lab.
What Are Environmental Testing Services?
With decades of testing experience, the experts at Quality Testing Services (QTS) have designed a number of methods to both simulate and accelerate the anticipated wear and tear a given product will be exposed to throughout its lifecycle. It’s important to consider this cumulative knowledge, since creating a system test environment to properly meet your needs is crucial.
With QTS, you don’t just get generic test results like you would from other environmental testing labs. Instead, you get the benefit of dedicated environmental test chambers that are set up to accurately and precisely put your product through its paces.
Consider the challenges of designing ESS testing for the following products:
- A solar cell unit intended for use in the Mojave Desert where summer high temperatures can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime average lows often dip into the 30s during winter.
- An electronic controller that forms part of an offshore wind turbine farm located off the coast of New England where vibrations, corrosive salt and extreme temperatures are all part of its daily environment.
- Any number of mission-critical aeronautic and/or satellite electronic components that will regularly be exposed to drastic shifts in temperature as well as higher than average radiation levels.
In all of the examples mentioned above, a product failure could result in situations ranging from costly inconveniences to tragic catastrophes. What’s more: It’s essential for products that need electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio-frequency interference (RFI) shielding to undergo specific combined environment testing that replicates all the stresses they will likely be exposed to on a regular basis.
To conduct reliable ESS testing, both temperature and electrodynamic vibration testing — as well as combined environment testing — are regularly carried out. Once the product is properly situated and monitored in its environmental chamber, stimuli ranging from vibration screening and thermal exposure to rapid transition rates can efficiently help to identify defects, failures and weaknesses in the product undergoing testing.
Thermal testing can often find faults related to seal and gasket failures, poor wiring insulation and overall defects in components. On the other hand, vibration screening is useful in detecting hardware and connectors that are loose and screw assemblies that are insufficiently torqued, as well as weaknesses in circuit breakers and switches. And when products are subjected to simultaneous thermal and vibration testing, a whole host of component defects and material contaminations can be uncovered.
Top Reasons for ESS Testing
There are many reasons that electronics manufacturers contact environmental testing labs for ESS testing. In all instances, not having to invest in their own environmental testing equipment saves companies money — especially when ESS testing results aid the production of a more robust product going to market.
Undoubtedly, one of the most popular reasons for ESS testing is that it’s required according to the regulations and/or standards of organizations a manufacturer is conducting business with. For instance, any company hoping to win a Department of Defense contract will have to perform a thorough ESS testing to conform to MIL-STD-810, which is the U.S. military’s standard for “Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests.” In addition, businesses that make components for the aeronautics sector have to conform to FAA and other industry standards that also require well-documented ESS testing.
Even if ESS testing isn’t required by law, it’s often a prudent step to avoid lawsuits at a later time as well as prove due diligence and ultimately position a company ahead of its competitors. In every instance, when a company brings a new product to market, it’s extremely vulnerable if that product suffers out-of-box or early failures. Just stop to think of the enormous costs both Samsung and Apple have incurred as a result of glitches in their mobile phone design and manufacturing.
Of course, for businesses that want every advantage in order to build the most reliable product they can, ESS testing is on every product manager and reliability engineer’s wish list. Not only can the corrections and modifications made in production as a result of testing help reduce subsequent warranty claims, but a more trustworthy product going to market also secures a brand loyalty that’s literally worth millions of dollars in customer satisfaction.
Quality Testing Services — Your Trusted Environmental Test Facility
At QTS, we offer more than dedicated environmental test chambers with the latest environmental testing equipment. We’re also a company that forges strong relationships with our clients so that you enjoy far more responsiveness, guidance and flexibility than you would with ordinary third-party testing facilities. And we do it all with your deadlines and budget in mind.
We offer the following ESS testing services:
- Combined temperature and electrodynamic vibration
- Rapid transition rates
- Profile execution for extended test durations
- “Shake and bake”
- Thermal Vacuum (TVAC)
After more than 20 years in the business, we know the importance of what we do and how it needs to fit into your production schedule. That’s why we never let our clients down, whether they’re located in Southern California, elsewhere in the U.S. or overseas. We’re always happy to supply you with a free quote, have a kick-off consultative conversation and, of course, customize our services to match your product’s specific requirements.
Why not get the personalized attention you deserve? Fill out our contact form or call 714-903-1155 to discover the QTS difference