As a manufacturer, your job is to ensure that your products are free from defects and ready to be put on the market. You also need to confirm that products come with proper guarantees and warranties and that you have adequate staffing to handle warranty claims.
Extensive life cycle testing is needed to stress your products and uncover their faults and failures. Results of this testing enable you to make accurate predictions about your products’ service life and maintenance needs. Life cycle testing allows you to get your products on the market as soon as possible by accelerating the conditions of typical product use and quickly uncovering the potential modes of failure.
What Is Accelerated Life Testing?
Life testing allows you to determine how effectively a product will function under typical lifetime operating conditions. Natural life cycle analysis tracks the product’s function under normal conditions of use to determine its life characteristics and make accurate predictions about its longevity.
However, natural analysis is often insufficient if you need to get your products on the market as soon as possible. Products designed for years of use, such as complex electronic circuitry, would take years of natural testing to determine life cycle limitations. Thus, accelerated life testing (ALT) is used to track a product’s lifecycle while speeding up the aging process.
ALT — a type of reliability testing — gives you insight into life cycle failure in the shortest amount of time possible. In ALT, a product undergoes extreme conditions beyond standard operating requirements, which imitates heavy consumer use over the product’s entire expected lifetime. The tests cause it to fail more quickly, triggering failure mechanisms that would have eventually occurred when subjected to consumer use. Technicians then analyze the results to calculate how long a product will last, as well as critical failure modes and mechanisms that will contribute to product failure over time and the product’s withstanding limits under extreme conditions.
ALT is a form of quantitative data particularly useful for measuring failures over a product’s lifetime. It contrasts with qualitative life cycle tests such as HALT and HASS testing, which are better able to reveal sudden failure methods and encourage manufacturers to improve product design before production. Both quantitative and qualitative tests work together to give you a better understanding of your prototypes and finished products.
How Life Cycle Testing Works
Three main steps compose the life cycle testing process — designing the tests, testing and analyzing the results:
- Designing a life cycle test: Life cycle tests can include a variety of conditions such as temperature, humidity, pressure, vibration, altitude, structural load and more. These factors and their stress levels will be chosen to accelerate potential failure modes without introducing unlikely failure modes. Thus, different conditions will be needed to induce likely failures in each product. Lab engineers will consult with you to determine the appropriate stimuli for your tests.
- Implementing a life cycle test: Once stimuli are determined, the product will be sent to a lab to undergo extensive testing, using one stimulus at a time to assess critical failures depending on product needs and industry standards. The lab’s machines replicate the effects of each stimulus on a product using stress levels determined during the tests’ designing stage. Each determined condition will be set to reflect normal product use at an accelerated rate.
- Analyzing ALT results: The product is continually monitored during testing for signs of failure. When failure modes are found, engineers can calculate how long the product will last under ordinary consumer conditions before it inevitably fails. They can then determine the likely reasons for product failure and suggested warranty limits.
Additional results of ALT make it an ideal choice for many industries looking to improve product performance insights. Some of the many metrics found using life cycle testing include:
- Probability of failure given time: The likelihood that a product will fail after a given amount of time during regular use.
- Reliable life: The amount of time a product can operate at a set reliability rate under a specific stress level.
- Probability plot: A plot of the probability of product failure over time.
- Mean time before failure: The average time that a product can function at a set stress level before failure.
Benefits of Life Cycle Testing
Perhaps the most critical benefit of ALT is its ability to save time in the reliability testing process. As a product manufacturer, you want to stay ahead of the competition and release your products as early as possible. You may not have the time to waste conducting natural life cycle tests without equipment designed to accelerate the testing process. The increase in stress levels during ALT ensures decreased testing time, so you’re able to develop and release your product quicker and stay ahead of the competition.
Many benefits make ALT an ideal choice for product testing. Other benefits include:
- Increased customer satisfaction and confidence in your brand
- Advanced guarantees and warranty claims tailored to your product’s failure modes and life cycle expectations
- Reduced manufacturer costs
- Improved product marketing and predictions for repurchase volume
- Increased understanding of technical support staffing needs
- Improved future product design
- Reduced risk of early failures
Contact Quality Testing Services, LLC for Your Life Cycle Testing Needs
ALT can give you critical insight into your products. However, the benefits of life cycle testing are only possible when your testing lab is willing to work with you to help you understand your results and what they mean for your bottom line. At Quality Testing Services, LLC, we’re prepared to collaborate with you to design customized tests and analyze your results in a way that’s useful to you and easy to understand.
Over the past 20 years, QTS has become an industry leader in product testing services, including ALT. Our lab employs a highly skilled team trained to focus on your unique needs. We offer many testing services and fair pricing to give you the flexibility you need in your product testing.
Contact us online or call (714) 903-1155 to learn more about our testing services.
- In-house custom fixture design and fabrication
- Life Cycle
For more information, call us at (714) 903-1155 or request a quote.