Environmental Test Chambers
Anyone interested in a testing chamber for their products deserves to know what they are and how they are used before buying one. An environmental test chamber is a high-quality product that will carefully reproduce a particular environmental condition as a way of testing a product. They can simulate a specific humidity, temperature chambers, or even pressure level to see how the materials of the product react to it.
Environmental testing is done to ensure that the company is building a high-quality product. They will test the temperature and humidity in a variety of different pressures and provide a wide range of readings that help ensure that the product meets quality standards. They can be set to a specific humidity range, temperature range, and pressure range in a straightforward and easy-to-control way.
Environmental Chambers manufacturers offer a variety of products and vary in type from a climate chamber, a temperature chamber, and even those that test thermal shock. Understanding these items, including a few items on their spec sheet, will help you decide which is right for your needs and give you an insight into how they operate.
Applications of Environmental Test Chambers
There are many reasons that people purchase an environmental chamber for their facility. As mentioned above, they test the materials of a product to ensure that they meet quality standards. For example, they could test a product's temperature range to ensure that it meets quality standards. However, they often go beyond these standards to find a breaking point for a product. In this way, they can create safety standards for using it.
However, it is also possible to identify flaws and weaknesses in a product before putting it up for sale. Identifying these flaws and fixing them makes the product more efficient and less likely to fall apart. Quality-testing of this type will also help a company avoid paying too much money for warranty replacements. Proper testing will help warranty providers feel more comfortable offering this protection and avoid a severe financial loss.
There are a variety of industries that use many types of climatic chamber suppliers to ensure their humidity and temperature protection meet quality standards. These industries include automotive, electronic, construction, medical, pharmaceutical, food, packaging, and even engineering firms. The broad range of environmental condition types these chambers test makes an environmental testing chamber worth considering.
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The History of Enviromental Test Chambers
Charles Conrad invented the first environmental testing chamber in 1951. It was built in Holland, Michigan and was designed and crafted literally on the front porch of his home. It aimed to reach a wide temperature range and could get as low as -125 degrees Fahrenheit. After inventing and building this item, he started Conrad Inc. and received a patent for his system in 1954.
Conrad's ingenious invention was expanded on in a variety of ways as the industry behind building high-quality environmental testing chamber models grew.
Through the years, these chambers have been improved mostly by expanding the range of the temperature humidity that they can test and by increasing their portability. However, even smaller versions are available now that can more easily fit in a laboratory or a manufacturing facility without taking up too much room.
How Enviromental Test Chambers Work
Understanding the basics of these chambers can help you operate them more efficiently. Whether you have a walk-in chamber, a humidity chamber, a climatic chamber, a stability chamber, or a temperature test chamber, you should be able to handle the environmental testing needs of most by grasping these basics. They can treat a variety of concerns, such as using the humidity test to master the humidity control of your product.
Most tests of this type start by opening up the machine and carefully placing the product you are testing inside. Once the item is inside of the chamber, you close the door and use the controls to set up your environmental testing conditions. If you are using a pressure chamber, you would create the pressure that you want the chamber to reach.
You can also control the speed at which you want the chamber to arrive at this environmental threshold. After setting the chamber, you can start the test. The chamber will then adjust its stainless steel interior to meet the conditions you have set. During this process, technicians typically watch the product to gauge how it will react to these conditions.
Conditions that are often tested include extreme temperatures, thermal shock caused by sudden temperature variations, moisture and humidity control, electrodynamic vibrations, electromagnetic radiation, and cyclical corrosion testing. However, it is also possible to test for weathering elements, such as exposure to sun, sand, dust, salt spray decay, and even rain conditions. In extreme conditions, it is possible to check for the materials in a total vacuum.
The range available in these chambers varies. A temperature chamber can test ranges as high as -120 degrees Fahrenheit all the way up to 662 degrees Fahrenheit. Changing rapidly between extreme temperatures in these chambers creates a thermal shock condition and could cause an item to crack.
As the temperature increases or increases in the chamber, technicians will gauge the effects it has on the item. At a certain point, it is likely to burn in the heat or freeze in the cold. Engineers can use this information to understand the limits of their design and make adjustments if they are necessary.
Other chambers work in similar ways. In humidity chambers, the range is from about 10 to 98 percent RH. Testing this environmental condition is crucial to ensuring the standards of your materials. In electronics, most items have a maximum humidity rating around 20-30 percent. However, testing them for higher capabilities helps manufacturers create higher-quality items.
As a result, it is a good idea for manufacturers to put their items to the test using a variety of testing chambers. A bare minimum of temperature and humidity tests should be taken. However, stability testing and stress testing is also wise.
Stress testing gauges how much force an item can suffer before it breaks. The testing range for this chamber typically lies within a few pound-feet per square-inch all the way up to hundreds. When the item cracks, the engineer has found the breaking point and can either adjust the design to make it stronger or release the product.
The Variety of Chambers Available
There is a wide range of chamber types available for your use. Some chambers are designed for specific types of environmental conditions. A humidity chamber focuses solely on controlling the humidity in the testing area. A temperature chamber can reach a broad range of temperature levels and can often induce thermal shock in a product.
However, there are also temperature and humidity chambers that can perform a variety of processes, including a temperature test and a humidity test. Other chamber types include a climatic chamber, a pressure chamber, and a stability chamber. The last type tests how well a product reacts to the vibrations caused by using it. While not quite as common as other types of chambers, they do have their use.
Beyond the different environmental conditions tested by chambers include the various methods used to access them. A walk-in chamber is typically the best type if you plan on working with a lot of delicate items and need a wide area of storage space. However, table-top testing chambers are ideal for smaller facilities that test individual items of a slighter size.
Many of these products are built by a variety of manufacturer groups. Picking the right one for your needs requires assessing why you need one in the first place and choosing one that meets those standards. Electronics manufacturers typically do well with pressure and temperature chambers because they help test their excellent products in a controlled environment.
Likewise, choosing the style of access for your chamber is also an important consideration. A large number of people prefer a walk-in chamber because they hold a more substantial amount of materials. However, they can be more expensive and harder to install. That's where bench-top models come into play. They can be fitted in a small area to test smaller items. You typically see these examples right in the manufacturing facility and used by engineers or factory workers to quality-test their products.
Several items make up the build of an environmental test chamber. A few include the electronic elements that help control the changing environment inside of the chamber. These typically include various conductors and wires that are well-insulated and protected from the environmental changes occurring inside of the chamber.
Beyond these electronics, it also contains the item that changes the environmental conditions. There are heaters and freezers in temperature chambers that help reach extreme temperatures quickly and efficiently. For pressure chambers, there are vacuums and other items that help adjust the pressure inside of the chamber to the level you require.
There are many other interesting components of these chambers that make them worth considering. Some have video feeds that make it easier to gauge what is happening to the sample during the testing process. Others simply have a viewport that can be opened up after the process is done. Higher-quality chambers include a reach-in glove that allows you to handle test subjects.
Beyond these viewing components, you also have a variety of possible control systems that you can utilize. For example, older chamber models often use simple analog control methods to achieve their environmental changes. In some instances, it is possible to use a small wheel to adjust the humidity on these old chambers. However, more modern ones use digital readouts and LCDs.
Benefits of Environmental Test Chambers
There are many reasons that you should consider installing one of these items in your facility. Some can help you test the quality standards of your materials and ensure that every product you make meets your high standards. They also help catch flaws in a design before mass producing an item. In this way, you can avoid losing an excessive amount of money.
Another major benefit of having testing chambers in your facility is that it keeps you from hiring somebody else to do it for you. In this way, you can handle your testing in-house and save yourself the kind of feeds typically associated with these types of tests.
Can you customize a testing chamber for your facility? Absolutely. Many design elements can be adjusted to meet your needs. For example, you can change the size of the unit to get a testing chamber that fits more comfortably in your facility. While the size is limited by the reality of the product operation, you can adjust many aspects of its design to minimize its width and length.
However, you can also get new inspection equipment installed, change the viewing port, add a stainless steel interior, add computer components, and even request web-enabled capabilities. All of these updates are available and help to make your testing chamber more efficient for your specific needs.
It is also possible to get computer programming installed on your testing chamber. This extra makes it possible to change your testing in a way that makes it more efficient. You could set up automatic testing cycles while your workers are away from the office.
There are many safety standards for these types of units. They must pass the OSHA standards for insulation on freezing chambers and also pass their own stress test needs. Interestingly, a walk-in chamber is not considered a constricted area because it is not designed for continuous employee use. As a result, the interior size can often be quite small.
However, it does require getting a permit for the interior space because it could contain a hazardous atmosphere that could impact someone who goes inside of the chamber. Better understanding these safety standards requires talking to OSHA about them and getting an updated copy of their considerations.
Choosing the Right Manufacturer
When it comes time to choose the right environmental testing chamber designer for your company, you need to do a lot of research. What kind of chambers does the company build? Are these products regarded well by others? Gauging a company's reputation helps you find one that meets your unique needs.
However, the right manufacturer may not always be the best possible one. Those who may have limited funds may require a bench-top model that the highest-rated manufacturer doesn't provide at a reasonable price. In this instance, it is a good idea to talk to a variety of budget-oriented designers who understand your needs and who can adapt to them appropriately.
Make sure to check with OSHA and the Better Business Bureau to get a good idea of the quality of a manufacturer and their products. OSHA can help you better grasp the safety standards behind these products while the BBB can give you a rating of the company based on real customer reviews and their independent investigation.
Environmental Test Chamber Types
- AGREE chambers can produce fast temperature
changes of 41-104˜F (5-40°C)
per minute, even with large loads. Vibration test systems can be
integrated within agree chambers,
as they have removable floors.
- test the effects of low
pressure on an object and are capable of replicating low-pressure environments
found at altitudes of
up to 200,000 feet above sea level.
- Bench top test chambers reduce test time
when testing small items.
- Cryogenic chambers replicate extremely low temperatures from -238 degrees F to absolute zero.
- accommodate large items,
such as vehicles, and are useful when performing batch testing.
the temperature of a product at a highly accelerated rate through high
air velocity conditioning.
- replicate environmental conditions for engineering tests.
environmental extremes that an airplane typically endures when in operation.
- Humidity chambers are
able to simulate a variety of humidity conditions in order to test
the effects of humidity on an object. Used for specific testing in industrial
and biotechnology applications.
used to expose electronic equipment to a mixture of pollutant gases in
environment in which the temperature
and humidity are controlled.
- often contain shelves
and other amenities for easy storage and user convenience.
the corrosion resistance of an object. The object usually hangs from
a rod while the
chamber introduces a salty
residue, which creates a foggy atmosphere, although the object remains
visible throughout the process.
the effects of temperature on an object. Temperature cycling is performed
alone or in conjunction with other tests, such as altitude and vibration
the subjection of an object to extreme changes in temperature within
a single chamber
in which the temperature alternates between cold and hot for a given
number of cycles.
- Test Chambers are enclosures designed to provide controlled environments for tests and experiments.
- initiate automatic
changes between two compartments, in which one compartment contains an
extremely cold environment and one
compartment contains an extremely hot environment. The rapid transference
of the object between these two compartments of extreme temperatures
causes a shock to the object.
- are used for thermal
and dynamic testing and have shock and vibration capacity.
- Vacuum chambers are chambers from which
almost all matter, especially air, has been removed.
shock vibrations of varying frequencies to an object, including the
bumping, shaking and
bouncing of an object, and
can be administered in conjunction
with temperature and humidity testing. Vibration chambers have sensors
that perceive and monitor the object’s
reaction to the vibration.
- Walk-in chambers vary in size and can usually accommodate one or more persons.
Walk-in chambers are useful when testing large objects and performing batch testing.
Environmental Test Chamber Terms
– The amount of water vapor,
or moisture, in a unit of air.
– The measurement of an object’s vibration
in comparison to a fixed point in space.
– The subjection of a product to stress
during the development phase in order to gauge the quality of the product.
The stress applied to the product often exceeds that which the product
would sustain during normal use.
– The subjection of a product to stress
after production in order to identify production flaws before the product
reaches retailers and consumers.
– The process of applying greater stress to
an object than that which the object would sustain during normal use,
the purpose of which is to identify guidelines by which the product may
– Also called “two-zone thermal
shock,” this process is the transferring of a product from a hot
chamber to a cold chamber or other sudden changes of the air temperature.
– The given temperature and humidity content
of an indoor (internal) or outdoor (external) environment.
– The amount of force the atmosphere exerts
upon the earth’s surface, measuring 14.7 psi at sea level.
– A test procedure in which multiple items are tested
at the same time.
– The hastening of a product’s aging process through
the continuous operation of the product, usually at higher than moderate
temperatures, in order to evaluate product quality.
– The process of comparison between the current operation
of an object or a system and the operating standards of that object or
system. Calibration determines the efficiency of an object and identifies
errors and the manner in which the system can improve.
– The gradual deterioration of a metal caused by oxidation
or chemical reaction.
– The frequency level at which point the destruction
of the object subjected to such frequency begins.
– Decrease in the vibration of an object.
– The temperature of a given unit of saturated (containing
the maximum amount of water vapor) air.
– An environmental chamber in which the humidity level
remains below a 14° F/-10° C dew point.
– The internal and external conditions, regardless
of the source, which affect a given object. The environment includes
temperature, humidity, electricity, precipitation, etc.
– The determination of the working
efficiency of an object or system through the identification of the effects
of thermal changes upon the object or system.
– The rate of movement, measured in cycles, of a wave
within a set time frame, usually one second. Frequency is often measured
in hertz (Hz), which equals one wave cycle per second.
– A test that assesses the
lifetime of a product, reduces its development cycle time and increases
confidence in the life-cycle reliability of the product.
– Product reliability test
in which an object is subjected to high temperature, humidity and pressure.
HAST has also come to be called Autoclave or Pressure Cooker Test (PCT).
– The airtight sealing of an object.
– The subjection of a product to stress comparable
to that which the product will sustain during use in order to determine
– Alternately immersing an object
in hot and cold liquids.
– The recovery time of a physical product
after it has been subjected to testing. Product recovery time is dependent
upon the location of the sensor in the load.
– Unit that measures the amount of
pressure applied to an object.
– The ratio of the current amount of water vapor
in a given unit of air at a given temperature to the greatest amount
of water vapor the unit of air could hold at that temperature.
– The measurement of an object’s vibration
in comparison to a fixed point on the object.
– The maximum amount of water vapor a given
unit of air can hold at a given temperature. Air becomes saturated when
relative humidity reaches 100%.
– Condition or force applied to an object that may impair
the object’s quality and performance.
– Product reliability test
in which an object is subjected to high humidity under a constant temperature.
Test time greatly exceeds that of HAST test time.
– Subjecting an object to extreme changes in temperature
within a single environmental chamber.
– Stress sustained by an object as a result of rapid
the object from a hot to a cold chamber and vice versa, with an intermediate
step of exposure to room
– The amount of time it takes for an object to be
moved from one chamber to another.
– Also called “downstream recovery
time,” this is the time required for the air temperature to recover
in the new zone. Upstream recovery time can be measured in the air stream
prior to or following the test load.
– Motion of an object around a position of equilibrium.