Reliability Services in the Prototype Phase
Thermal Testing and Analysis
Thermal Testing involves testing a product at the extremes of its intended use thermal environment for temperature and airflow and measuring case temperatures on individual components to determine the effect on product performance and long-term reliability. Thermal Analysis involves analyzing specific areas of a product that do not meet their thermal specifications and coming up methods for mitigating this.
Not only must an entire product be able to operate in its intended thermal environment, but each component within the product must conform to its specifications as well. Components that are used outside of their specifications have drastically reduced reliability and often times will cause the entire product to go out of specification immediately or over time.
To assure that each component within a product meets its thermal specifications and to help correct those components that do not.
VALUE TO YOUR ORGANIZATION
Assuring that all of the components within a product meet their thermal specifications will greatly increase the reliability of the product in the field. And for any thermal issues that exist, the earlier we find them, the less expensive the fix will be.
For any components that are running too hot, or cause the system to be out of specification in any parameter, we must analyze the cause of this and help devise a solution.
An example of Reliability Integration during Thermal Testing is as follows:
Thermal Testing Integrates Well with Reliability Predictions
In a Reliability Prediction, we usually make assumptions about average thermal rise within a unit. Thermal Testing will measure actual component temperatures. We can then feed this actual data back into our prediction model to get a more accurate Reliability Prediction.
We can either use Thermocouples or an Infrared Camera to measure the temperature of each component. If thermal data is required on a small percentage of the components, then thermocouples are a quick way of measuring temperature. If thermal data is required on most or all of the components, then an Infrared Camera is best.
We start with the thermal specifications for each component and then compare to the measured values. For any component that is near its thermal specification, we input this data into the reliability prediction and report the net effects. For any component that is outside its thermal specification, we flag the component and recommend a solution. It is important that the product is functionally tested during the Thermal Testing to assure the components are being exercised as they normally would be in the field.
The following case studies and options provide example approaches. We shall tailor our approach to meet your specific situation.
1) Customer-Provided Thermal Data
A Computer manufacturer had us run a Reliability Prediction. Later in the design cycle, they measured actual temperatures and gave us this information to plug into the Prediction model.
2) Thermal Testing using Thermocouples
A Networking company outsourced the Prediction and Thermal Testing to us. Early in the design, we performed a Prediction, assuming a 15 Deg C rise from ambient to case. Then, we used the Prediction to identify the top 10 components most sensitive to temperature. When the first prototypes were built, we applied thermocouples to these components and measured the temperature of each. We then fed this information back into the Prediction Model.
3) Thermal Testing using an Infrared Camera
A Defense contractor outsourced the Prediction and Thermal Testing to us and they needed Thermal Testing data on every component of the design. Early in the design, we performed a Prediction, assuming a 15 Deg C rise from ambient to case. When the first prototypes were built, we used an Infrared (IR) Camera and measured the temperature of every component. We then fed this information back into the Prediction Model.