Environmental Testing Services

Environmental Testing

Full-service Environmental Testing Laboratory

Washington Labs is a full-service Environmental Test Lab with extensive experience in both testing and test plan/procedure preparation, and an emphasis on flexibility and support during testing.

We commonly test to MIL-STD-810, RTCA DO-160, and IEC 60068, but if you don’t see the standard you’re after in our list below, have a special set of requirements, or need some help determining the right standard to use, just ask; we would be more than happy to discuss your testing needs!

Test Standards

  • ASTM B117
  • EN 50155
  • IEC 60068
  • IEC 60601-1-11
  • IEC 60945
  • MIL-STD-167A
  • MIL-STD-810F
  • MIL-STD-810G
  • MIL-STD-810G Change 1
  • RTCA DO-160E
  • RTCA DO-160F
  • RTCA DO-160G
  • SAE J1455

Test Standards – Which has what?

Sometimes, determining the correct test standard to use can be difficult.  However, there are a few oft-used standards that cover some general product categories:

  • MIL-STD-810: Military & Military COTS

This test standard typically covers equipment used by the military, including COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) equipment, and ruggedized consumer equipment.  A good basis for any program, the MIL-STD-810 also contains a significant amount of information on testing methodology, proper selection of test variables such as temperature or vibration profiles, and details on tailoring the test program to suit your equipment the best.

MIL-STD-810G Change 1 is the most current version of this standard, but MIL-STD-810F and MIL-STD-810G (published in 2000 and 2008, respectively) are still commonly called out in test programs.

  • RTCA DO-160: Airborne Equipment

This test standard is primarily used for equipment to be deployed or used in aircraft. While similar to MIL-STD-810, most of the requirements and methods of test are more tailored to airborne equipment.  This standard is less often called out for general-purpose equipment and rarely for ruggedized consumer equipment.

RTCA DO-160G Change 1 is the most current version of this standard, but DO-160F and DO-160G (published in 2007 and 2010, respectively) are still commonly referenced.

  • IEC 60068: Commercial & Industrial

This test standard is part of the overall IEC harmonized standards group. The structure of this standard is a bit different than MIL-STD-810 and RTCA DO-160, as instead of having internal methods for each test, there are discrete sub-standards for the different tests to be performed.  (An example: IEC 60068-2-6, Test Fc, only covers sine vibration, while IEC 60068-2-64, Test Fh, contains information on broadband random vibration.)

This test standard is often used for equipment intended to be used commercially or in industry, rather than for military equipment.  Systems like commercial surveillance equipment, or industrial agricultural equipment, may find more relevant requirements in IEC 60068 (either field-use or customer-driven) than MIL-STD-810.

Environmental Testing – What and How?

Environmental testing demonstrates the ability of a product to survive harsh conditions under use, storage, and shipping.  Transportation vibration, temperature shock, corrosion resistance, or water ingress?  Prototype unit testing to determine deficiencies in design?  Concept analysis, to see if that better mousetrap really is better?  Production-stage testing to prove the robustness and reliability of the finished product?  All covered by environmental testing.  And oft-overlooked, success in environmental testing can be a great marketing tool: don’t just tell your engineers you passed, tell everyone you passed!

Compliance with environmental test standards also highlights a manufacturer’s commitment to providing high-quality, thoroughly tested products to the market, both domestically and world-wide, and applies to everything from home medical equipment to orbital vehicle components.  An important step in military COTS procurement, even the most innocuous commercial equipment can benefit from environmental testing by identifying potential problems, assisting in warranty mitigation, and providing a more reliable product to the end consumer.

Did You Know? MIL-STD-810

Did you know that single axis vibration testing requires cross axis control?

Discussion:  MIL-STD-810 establishes a requirement to limit cross axis acceleration to 0.45 times the axis under test acceleration.  This calls for installing accelerometers in both axis orthogonal to the primary axis or using a multi-axis accelerometer.  If the cross axis vibration is greater than 3.5dB below the primary axis acceleration, then the cause needs to be determined.  If the cause is related to the vibration test fixture inducing the cross axis issue, then the fixture should be corrected to eliminate or move the resonant frequency outside the test range.  If the test article is the source, you may need to limit the drive spectrum or consider multi-axis testing.

Article Reference ID: DYK00006

Did you know that IPX7 and MIL-STD-810 Immersion are “almost” the same?

In general procedure, both tests are performed the same way; immersion in 1-meter of fresh water for 30-minutes. The primary differences lie in smaller details; MIL-STD 810G testing is typically performed with the unit to be tested either 10C or 27C above the water temperature depending on deployment. This allows for contraction of air in any internal voids during testing, which results in a slight negative pressure inside the unit. IEC 60529, the IPX7 test, requires that the test unit is within 5K of the water temperature. The immersion depth is also measured slightly differently between the methods; 810G measures the 1 meter immersion depth from the highest surface of the test unit, while the IPX7 test is measured from the bottom of the test unit.

Pass/fail criteria between the two standards is also similar; both allow water ingress, by requiring the manufacturer determine what an acceptable level of water ingress is, but also require that the test unit function following (and in some cases, during) the immersion test and not result in a hazardous condition due to water ingress (electrical shorts, etc.). For small pieces of equipment, and units that cannot be disassembled (epoxied clamshells), we typically measure the weight before and following testing, to determine if any water ingress occurred. For some test units, where it cannot be disassembled and where it is difficult to remove all water by patting dry following the test due to the physical shape of the unit, the pass/fail criteria is typically limited to confirming the equipment operates following testing, and doesn’t pose a hazard (water ingress to transformers, batteries, etc).

Of the two tests, the 810G procedure is slightly more difficult to pass due to the temperature differential requirement, but as a general statement both tests are very similar. I would also note that IPX8 testing is essentially the same as IPX7 testing, but with either a longer duration, or a deeper depth requirement; a 45-minute test at 1 meter, or a 30-minute test at 1.3 meters, would both qualify as IPX8.

For more information contact us.

Article Reference ID: DYK00014


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