Excessive temperature is one of the most common causes of product failure in many industries. Thus, testing your products for resistance to humidity and temperature changes is one of the most important things you can do before putting them on the market.
Thermal and humidity testing is the umbrella term used for a variety of environmental tests such as humidity cycling, high-temperature testing and moisture-resistance testing. Each test is designed with unique thermal and humidity conditions to establish the temperature and moisture limits of products and verify the causes of product defects and early life failure.
What Is Thermal and Humidity Testing?
Nearly all products and materials are subjected to harsh weather conditions. Equipment such as automobile parts and electronic gadgets are especially susceptible to failure in extreme cold or heat, which could lead to expensive warranty replacements and even safety hazards. As such, testing for product failure due to temperature and humidity is a necessary part of the engineering process. But finding the right environment for conducting product tests can be strenuous and time-consuming unless conditions are laboratory-controlled. With environmental testing, you can safely monitor your products in a variety of inclement conditions in a laboratory temperature or humidity test chamber.
Thermal and humidity stress testing examines a product’s ability to endure harsh weather conditions or heavy or prolonged use. Its purpose is to rapidly accelerate the stress levels that a material sustains during everyday wear and tear to determine its durability and the ideal climate for its use. Environmental tests also pinpoint potential issues in functionality that engineers can fix before a product’s release.
Environmental testing is performed to identify fundamental product failures before these products are offered for sale. Tests can be conducted with static temperatures and humidity or can cycle through a range of conditions, while each type of testing targets various failures for engineers to address.
How Environmental Testing Works
After products are sent to a lab for testing, engineers place them in chambers that cycle through extreme environmental conditions designed to test the limits of their durability. Temperatures and relative humidity can change at a slow or fast rate to monitor the products’ response over time. Temperature and moisture limits are determined based on product type and can be customized to meet industry standards or unique needs.
After determining the products’ temperature and humidity limits, results are shared with the manufacturer. The lab engineers and manufacturer can then work together to eliminate part failures on finished products.
Types of Environmental Testing
Three main types of environmental testing compose most of the thermal and humidity testing process: thermal cycling, humidity cycling and thermal shock testing.
In thermal cycling, specimens are placed in a thermal chamber and subjected to various temperatures to calculate thermal limits and verify internal heating and cooling abilities. Temperature cycling is often combined with humidity and sometimes vibration testing, particularly in transportation and defense products.
Product failures targeted by thermal testing include:
- Changes in resistance, power, inductance, flexibility, ability to hold a charge and general functionality
- Surface swelling and cracks in finished surfaces
- Heat aging
- Oxidation and chemical reactions
- Freezing moisture
- Physical expansion or contraction
- Mechanical failures
- Shortened overall lifetime
Similarly, products undergo humidity testing in a chamber that simulates both severely high- and low-humidity environments.
Product failures targeted by humidity testing include:
- Moisture retention
- Swelling, oxidation and corrosion
- Discoloration and fogging
- Paint chipping
- Changes in elasticity or plasticity
- Water tightness failures
- Mechanical failures
- Electrical shortages
Thermal shock is a type of thermal cycling performed in a thermal shock chamber, which is comprised of two pre-heated and pre-cooled containers. A mechanism transfers specimens between the hot and cold regions. Unlike traditional thermal cycling, no wait time is needed to switch the products from extreme heat to cold. The temperature shock is immediate and can quickly determine product failings with rapid material expansions and contractions.
In addition to weakness targeted by thermal testing, thermal shock testing also targets product failures such as:
- Electrical circuit stability
- Cracks and distortions
- Sealant and potting failures
Benefits of Environmental Testing
Environmental testing can give engineers of nearly any industry vital insight into product performance and durability. When you discover your products’ weaknesses in harsh climates, you can better overcome these failures and increase the safety and longevity of your finished product, which gives you an edge over your competition.
Product quality is just one of the many assurances of thermal and humidity testing. Environmental testing can help you provide product care instructions and warnings, create an audit trail in the event of a lawsuit, and prevent litigation, early product failures and damage to your brand’s reputation.
Many industries can profit from environmental testing, and some regulated products may even require testing before being placed on the market. Thermal and humidity testing is often a necessity to ensure parts’ reliability, particularly for products in industries such as transportation or medicine that are held to a higher safety standard.
Some of the most common products to undergo environmental testing include:
- Airbag inflators
- Steering wheels
- Paints and coatings
- Medical equipment
- Military products
- Aircraft parts
Contact Quality Testing Services for Your Environmental Testing Needs
At Quality Testing Services, we’ve spent over 20 years producing reliable results for leading manufacturers throughout the world. We’ve become an industry leader in product testing with a small, highly skilled team of engineers trained to focus on your company’s unique needs.
QTS has worked closely with engineers of lifesaving medical and military products to ensure safety and durability. We know the importance of reliable results, and we can work with you to meet your industry’s standards and regulations with thermal and humidity testing equipment that is MIL-STD-810G compliant.
When you’re looking for a testing company to ensure the reliability of your products, you need someone you can trust. At QTS, we collaborate with you to be a reliable partner and help you create an exceptional finished product. To learn more about our testing services and to start your product’s environmental testing, contact us online today or call us at (714) 903-1155.
- MIL-STD-810G compliant
- GN2 purge for low humidity applications
- Temp and humidity cycling
For more information, call us at (714) 903-1155 or request a quote.