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What is Vibration Testing?

The ability of a product to perform successfully in service is often critically dependent on its operating environment. If the product is not to malfunction or fail in service, the design process must take account of the environmental conditions under which the equipment is expected to operate. During the product development phase it is common practice to apply suitable tests to the product to simulate its working environment. As it is not usually economic or practical to conduct such tests in the actual working environment, such tests are normally performed in the laboratory.

The concept of a hostile environment is most familiar to those involved in the military fields. However, products destined for the industrial, commercial and domestic markets can also be subjected to severe vibration environments. Manufacture, assembly, transport, storage, maintenance and service operations can all provide stress generating mechanisms.

Vibration is one of the major sources of failure. With a wide range of amplitudes and frequencies it is important that the equipment design does not exacerbate the problem. In electronic components, such failure models include stress fractures on the leads of large devices, intermittent relays, solder joints failures and broken pcb tracks. In mechanical systems, fatigue fractures can result from cyclic loading. Whilst good design principals will minimise such problems, vibration testing will validate the design for a particular environment.