No escaping from the weather
During a product’s lifetime it can be exposed to various climates – anywhere around the world – completely beyond your control or influence.
Using specially tailored climate tests and test scenarios we help our customers to improve the robustness and reliability of their electronic devices – not just to comply with applicable design and performance standards, but also to fulfil consumer expectations.
Simulating all weather conditions - and more
In our advanced climate test facilities, we can simulate any weather condition, whether natural conditions such as sunlight, salt mist, temperatures, rain and combined exposures, or man-made conditions such as air pollution, chemicals and extreme temperatures.
Combinations of mechanical and climatic exposure
Real-life exposures are rarely purely mechanical or purely climatic, but complicated combinations of both. One of the well-known failure mechanisms resulting from such combined exposures is that of fretting corrosion.
With our ability to combine these exposures in a precisely controlled manner, it is even possible to simulate slow and fragile failure processes that do not normally develop in “stress combination tests” such as HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Test).
Our tests – the short version
- Solar simulation
- UV exposure
- Salt mist
- Temperature shock
- Temperature and humidity
- Condensing water
- Rain resistance and watertightness evaluation
- Combined vibration, temperature and humidity tests
Our tests – the slightly longer version
The Sun is essential for life on Earth. However, the irradiation from the sun can be hard on materials.
Encapsulated devices, for example, can reach temperatures of up to 80 °C or more.
Our solar simulation chamber can simulate solar irradiation at ground level on earth, ranging from 800 to 1200 W/m2.
In combination with solar irradiation, we can control both humidity and temperature with freely programmable profiles, making it possible to simulate most global outdoor natural climates.
An alternative to natural solar exposure is exposure to UV light. This gives a very high acceleration factor for degradation of materials normally exposed to solar radiation.
In combination with pure UV irradiation we can also apply condensation or water spray exposure. This type of test is normally used for initial screening to choose the best material/coating, or for quality control at batch level. UV exposure can replace solar simulation (or real exposure) only if failure modes and an acceleration factor have been determined for the particular material/coating.
With few exceptions, normal salt is present all over the globe and therefore it is natural that electronic devices can become contaminated by it. Besides the obvious offshore and coastal environments, sources of salt can also be sweat or the salting of roads.
The presence of salt can have fatal consequences for electronic equipment, and lead to various failure mechanisms such as corrosion of contact points and migration of tin or copper. Both metallic and non-metallic materials can degrade and corrode in saline environments.
In our salt mist test chamber we can test in accordance with the most common standards, include those involving saline solutions and temperatures.
In aerospace, industrial or other extreme environments, electrical devices or materials can experience sudden extreme temperature rises or drop of tens of degrees per minute. These sudden temperature changes can result in extreme dimensional changes and internal stress levels which can lead to failures, e.g. cracks, delamination or deformation.
Our temperature shock chamber consists of two separate temperature chambers connected by a sample lift, so that sudden temperature changes can be caused by automatically moving the test samples from one chamber to the other. With a temperature range from –80 °C to +220 °C, it is possible to simulate most temperature conditions.
Temperature and humidity
The simplest weather simulations are purely temperature changes, which can provide sufficient evidence for some levels of climatic reliability. However, in most cases, the humidity must also be controlled in order to avoid undesirable water condensation or thermal transport.
We can also include and control humidity conditions. High humidity levels can have fatal consequences for polymers and lead to warping or delamination of foils.
SP’s multiple climate test chambers can provide temperatures ranging from –70 °C to +180 °C, with controlled humidities from 10 % to 98 %. Temperature and humidity profiles can be programmed and monitored for each chamber in order to be able to simulate a wide range of natural and artificial weather phenomena.
Natural weather conditions include water in various forms and sizes, from the molecular state to large raindrops. One of the more difficult sizes to simulate is that of water droplets that are so small that they will condense only on or inside surfaces that are colder than the surroundings.
A dedicated test chamber at SP simulates condensing water conditions as specified in international standards for 100 % relative humidity. We can simulate special situations when water vapour can enter electronic encapsulations, followed by internal condensation.
Rain resistance and watertightness evaluation
With the increased capacity of batteries and better power management, even more electronic devices have become transportable and are used wherever they may be taken, in wet or dry weather, and whether designed to withstand rain or not.
To simulate the most common rain conditions, RISE has a semi-automatic test chamber to simulate conditions up to IP X2 (water droplets at various 15° angles for ten minutes).
In connection with the traditional test method, RISE also offers watertightness investigations to find potential leaks and capillary effects in encapsulation designs. This form of evaluation is very suitable for initial design studies, and can in some cases even be used on mock-up models.
Combined vibration, temperature and humidity tests
Test conditions can include severe combinations of simultaneous exposures to vibration, temperature and humidity. These conditions would be typical, for example, of conditions likely to be encountered by machinery on ships or in connection with freight transport.
Typical failures in this kind of combined testing are fretting corrosion, reduced vibration resistance or even degradation of cardboard packaging protection.
In combined mode we can freely programme vibration and have a force up to 26 kN, temperatures from –70 °C to +180 °C, with rates of change up to 11 K/min (temperature shock range) and humidities from 10 % to 98 % relative humidity.