Environmental test chambers reproduce environmental conditions within a contained space for the purposes of evaluating the long-term effects of specific changes upon items such as industrial products and materials, electronic products and other components. These conditions simulate those which a product will typically encounter in the span of its useful life. Test results can show the process of product decay and degradation and help predict the potential lifespan of a product or material.
In other words, environmental chambers evaluate product quality and reliability, and identify manufacturing flaws and weaknesses in those products before they are released to the general market.
Common tests undertaken in environmental test chambers are extremes of temperature and sudden variations of temperature in temperature chambers and cryogenic chambers, the effects of humidity and moisture in humidity test chambers, and salt spray test chambers which record the degrading effects of salt water on objects for manufacturer analysis.
Other types of chambers include: Aging chambers, altitude chambers, thermal shock chambers and vacuum test chambers. Causal environmental conditions such as airborne and structural vibrations, shock, dust and sand, electromagnetic and UV radiation are further tests carried out in test chambers to evaluate a product’s reaction to the elements. As the nature of the tests which environmental chambers perform is widely varied, the common sizes of the chambers are also as broad.
Test chambers can range from simple, smaller bench top test chambers which can be used to test a small component, to a variety of sizes of altitude chambers, to the larger, more complex walk-in test chambers, and even drive-in chambers for vehicles and aircraft.