Environmental testing is the measurement of the performance of equipment under specified environmental conditions. Chambers are designed to simulate a full range of temperature testing and humidity testing conditions. Environmental testing chambers tests include:
- Salt spray test chamber
- High and low temperature test chamber
- Constant temperature
- Humidity test chamber
- Ultraviolet aging test chamber
- Xenon lamp aging test chamber
- Ozone aging test chamber
The main function of environmental test chamber is to see how products handle operating in various environments.
Environmental chambers allows for control over various conditions. The release of a product is dependent be able to operate in a wide variety of environments, both storage and operational. In the design phase, analysis can be performed to help determine a product’s ability to meet each of these environments. While testing the product is taken through environmental tests to see if it can withstand certain pre-set expectations and standards. If the product does not meet a certain environmental specification, or if the margins between the specification and the actual product operation are deemed not sufficient. Failure must be analyzed and the product must be made more robust.
Environmental tests can test:
- explosive atmosphere
- fluid compatibility
- rapid and explosive decompression
- temperature and humidity
- waterproofness and immersion
Environmental testing is important to understand the longevity of a product and to understand if they meet or exceed safety standards and requirements.
Test chambers vary in size, sometimes being as large as a small room or as small as a countertop device. Generally, test chambers have viewports or video feeds that allow for ease of monitoring. Some chambers allow for reach-in openings that allow for sample testing.
Test chambers must follow several organizational standards and guidance in construction, temperature control standards and engineering tolerances. Including:
- Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology
- Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute
- ASTM International
- Underwriters Laboratories
- NSF International
- FM Global
- Canadian Standards Association
- International Organization for Standardization
Things to consider
When hiring a testing service, it is important to disclose details about the product. Safety standards require approximately ⅓ product and ⅔ empty space to allow for adequate air flow. It is also important to disclose the type of material tested for the manufacture of the chamber. This allows them to determine the right fit, or a custom builds a chamber. When using a testing service, it is important to consider their capabilities. Manufactures of chambers bring in expertise, as well as the ability to adapt and customize a machine.