HALT Test Setup on Circuit Boards
A customer approached DES looking to perform Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) on a new circuit board design. DES and the customer agreed to test the circuit boards using DES’s traditional HALT test procedure which calls for hot/cold temperature steps followed by rapid temperature ramping, vibration steps and combined temperature and vibration stresses. HALT testing on electrical componentry is quite common across industry to expose design weaknesses; both mechanical and electrical (What is HALT and Why Perform HALT?). Typical failures include poor solder connections, overheating, component failure, etc. (What Kind Of Failures Occur During HALT?)
Continue Reading Circuit Board HALT Testing Case Study
Rapid Highly Accelerated Life Testing or Rapid HALT is a reliability test method that is used to expose product weaknesses. A Rapid HALT procedure is a modification of a Classical HALT procedure. For more information about Classical HALT procedures, refer to the following blog articles:
A Rapid HALT is an abbreviated HALT, typically one day of tests, making it a great cost-effective solution for those seeking faster qualitative results. Exposing a product to a Rapid HALT early in the design process can help reduce product development time and cost by enabling manufacturers to identify flaws or areas of improvement before it’s too late.
Rapid HALT’s are a good tool for assessing the reliability of different suppliers of components but can also be used to assess the reliability of less complicated products. For example, DES has performed Rapid HALT’s to evaluate the reliability of different suppliers of power supplies, cooling fans, and LED’s. DES has also performed a Rapid HALT to study different fastening methods in order to determine which was more robust.
Figure 1. DES Rapid HALT Profile
Continue Reading Rapid HALT – A Cost Effective Alternative to HALT
Product failures in HALT testing are defined as either the cessation of any functions or an out-of-specification condition for any performance characteristic. When a failure occurs, it is documented in DES’s HALT log. The exact time and test condition when each failure occurred is noted.
If the product fails to operate, the temperature or vibration will be changed toward ambient room conditions followed by a short dwell period to see if the product recovers. If the product is non-operational after dwelling at ambient conditions, trouble shooting will take place to find the failed component. The failed component will then be removed, repaired or replaced with a new component (as is practical) in an effort to expand the test stresses.
Figure 1 – Failure of Improperly Designed Mounting Tabs
Continue Reading What Kind Of Failures Occur During HALT?
Figure 1 – DES’s HALT Chambers
Specialized test chambers are needed to perform a HALT. Typical HALT chambers are shown in Figure 1. The specification for HALT chambers is typically the following:
Liquid nitrogen (LN2) is used to cool the air temperature in HALT chambers. This allows for very rapid temperature changes of 60°C per minute and a cold temperature extreme of -100°C.
HALT chamber heating is provided by high power resistive heating elements that can produce changes of 60°C per minute and a hot temperature limit of +200°C.
Continue Reading What Equipment Is Used For HALT?
HALT procedures vary from lab to lab but are typically performed similar to DES’s procedure which is summarized below. DES’s HALT procedure is divided into 5 Stages: Stage 1 – Temperature Step Stresses, Stage 2 – Temperature Ramps, Stage 3 – Vibration Step Stresses, Stage 4 – Combined Temperature &Vibration Stresses, and Stage 5 – Temperature Destruct Limits.
Stage 1 is used to determine the HALT Operational Limits for temperature. The goal is not to cause destruction in Stage 1, but sometimes the operational and destruct limits occur simultaneously. The HALT Destruct Limits for temperature and vibration are typically found in Stages 3 to 5.
Temperature Step Stresses – Stage 1 (Figure 1)
Figure 1 – Stage 1 Temperature Steps
Continue Reading What Is A Typical HALT Procedure?
Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) is a rigorous reliability test method that is used to expose product weaknesses. The goal of HALT is to proactively find weaknesses and fix them, thereby increasing product reliability. Because of its accelerated nature, HALT is typically faster and less expensive than traditional testing techniques.
HALT of circuit boards in one of DES’s HALT chambers
HALT can be effectively used multiple times over a product’s life time. During product development, it can find design weakness when changes are much less costly to make. By finding weaknesses and making changes early, HALT can lower product development costs and compress time to market. When HALT is used at the time a product is being introduced into the market, it can expose problems caused by new manufacturing processes. When used after a product has been introduced into the market, HALT can be used to audit product reliability caused by changes in components, manufacturing or suppliers etc. The bottom line is that HALT can reduce product development time and cost, reduce warranty costs, improve customer satisfaction, gain market share, and increase profits.
Continue Reading What Is HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Testing) And Why Perform HALT?
HALT of Circuit Boards
Highly Accelerated Life Testing Procedures
Speeding up the process of device or circuit failure requires extreme inputs, those that are unlikely to occur during real-world use by customers regardless of the environment. Three common testing inputs are high and low temperatures, rapid cycling of the same and vibration along six-axes. In some cases, a highly accelerated life test (HALT) will incorporate combined temperature and vibration stresses. These inputs can result in component failure in the span of days, hours, or even minutes compared to months or years of typical usage.
While the percentages of failure based on the stress applied to a product can vary significantly, highly accelerated life testing can typically expose weaknesses faster than other means of testing. For example, of the above inputs, roughly two-thirds of failures will only come after the introduction of vibration alone or combined vibration and temperature tests. This means that during the product development process, a significant number of potential flaws would not be identified through testing that did not include these two stresses. Continue Reading How a HALT Test Shows The Future