What is Thermal Cycle Testing?
Around the time of the Second World War, the American electronics industry was tasked with designing and building hardware that would be deployed where it would experience all sorts of environmental stresses. This included temperature extremes, shock and vibration environments and the extremes of space applications. In order to set standards for these environments, the American government set “military standards” for design and testing that would incorporate the worst extremes of these environments. In addition, these “Mil Standards” included testing procedures that would prove reliable operation in these extreme environments as well as determine failure modes due to accelerated aging of the equipment. These standards serve today as the bedrock acceptance criteria for electronic equipment designed to be reliable and robust in the most difficult of environments. Equipment designed to these Mil Standards typically exemplify the benchmark for robust, reliable, long life equipment.
Temperature Cycling tests, defined by Mil-Standard 1540 and 883, prove reliability of design and component selection as well as construction techniques. Mil-Standard 1540 defines accelerated age and reliability testing as 10 cycles from -10 degrees Centigrade to +50 degrees Centigrade with a 1 hour soak at each temperature extreme.