A customer approached DES looking to find an accelerated test solution for an AC powered cooling fan used in one of their products. The product had been established in the marketplace and the company was now looking for ways to reduce cost by looking at different cooling fan suppliers. Most fans, however, have a mean life rated for over 20,000 hours, so a typical accelerated life test would require a significant amount of time and money.
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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.
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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)
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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 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? →
Temperature cycling testing is another method of accelerated life testing for products that are exposed to temperature variations during use in normal operation. The temperature variations can be a result of self heating for products that are repeatedly turned on and off, or can be the result of cyclic environmental changes — such as temperature variations from day to night — or other causes.
These repeated temperature changes can result in thermal fatigue and lead to eventual failure after many thermal cycles. Accelerated life testing can be performed by cycling the product to high and low temperatures that exceed its normal use temperatures.
It should be noted that temperature cycling may also be referred to as thermal cycling or thermal shock testing. However, some test standards, such as MIL-STD-883, make the distinction between temperature cycling being performed as air to air testing and thermal shock being performed with the samples transferred between liquids. This article deals with testing performed using an air to air thermal cycle chamber.
Typical temperature cycling equipment consists of at least one hot chamber and one cold chamber. The test samples are automatically transferred between the two chambers by an elevator-type mechanism. It is also possible to perform temperature cycling in a single compartment chamber where the temperature is ramped between hot and cold. This generally produces a slower rate of temperature change compared to the two chamber method.
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To keep up with increasing vibration and shock testing demand, DES added a brand new Unholtz-Dickie Electro Dynamic (ED) Shaker Test System. The shaker is a model SAI30F-S452/ST system with slip table to perform vibration and shock testing along 3 axes. This gives DES additional vibration and shock testing capability and also will help us turn your projects around faster.
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Mass Air Flow Sensors (MAFS) are used to measure the mass flowrate of air entering engines in newer model cars. The mass air flow information is transmitted to the engine control unit (ECU) to balance and deliver the correct amount of fuel mass to the engine. These sensors operate in a very harsh environment, a car engine compartment! Testing their reliability and proving their durability is a very difficult task.
Mass Air Flow Sensors (MAFS) Combined Temperature Vibration Testing
Delserro Engineering Solutions (DES) was honored to be featured in a recent article discussing the capabilities of engineering testing companies. The article highlighted the benefits, in terms of both design and cost, of adequately testing designs, preferably as early in the process as possible. It also discussed the ins and outs of partnering effectively with a reliability testing facility.
The goal of this article was to teach product developers how to get the most bang for their testing buck; a goal that aligns perfectly with DES’s philosophy. No matter what your testing needs are, be they HALT, HASS, or other environmental or stress tests, DES is able to help you design and implement the most comprehensive and accurate test possible. As always, our client’s success is the source of our satisfaction.
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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 →