Purchasing a rugged device means getting a device that’s more durable than ordinary consumer products, and also reliable under some of the harshest environmental conditions on the planet. When extreme working conditions require rugged technology, equipment manufacturers rely on testing standards like MIL-STD-810G (Mil-Spec).
What is MIL-STD-810?
The MIL-STD-810 test method standard for environmental engineering considerations and laboratory tests is a publication of the US Department of Defense with contributions from the US Army, Air Force, and Navy as well as the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST) and the Shock and Vibration Information Analysis Center (SAVIAC) “The primary emphases are still the same – (with the exception of Method 528) tailoring a materiel item’s environmental design and test limits to the conditions that the specific materiel will experience throughout its service life, and establishing laboratory test methods that replicate the effects of environments on materiel, rather than trying to reproduce the environments themselves. However, the “G” revision continues the up-front explanation of how to implement the environmental tailoring process throughout the materiel acquisition cycle.“ (MIL-STD-810G, Part One, Forward, 1.0)
First published in 1961, MIL-STD-810 has undergone a series of versions, with new test methods, clarifications and different test severities and durations. The current version — MIL-STD-810G — was issued on October 21, 2008, superseding MIL-STD-810F, which was last updated on May 5, 2003.
MIL-STD-810 standard is designed to generate confidence in the environmental worthiness and durability of material system designs, offering test methods to accomplish the following purposes:
- “Define environmental stress sequences, durations and levels of equipment life cycles
- Develop analysis and test criteria tailored to the material and its environmental life cycle
- Evaluate material performance when exposed to a life cycle of environmental stresses
- Identify deficiencies, shortcomings and defects in the material design, materials, manufacturing processes, packaging techniques and maintenance methods
- Demonstrate compliance with contractual requirements”
Commercial application of MIL-STD-810?
Although MIL-STD-810 was prepared for use by all departments and agencies of the United States Department of Defense, it is also often used to establish an excellent baseline for the testing of commercial products as well. Manufacturers of computers, cell phones, and other equipment are often tested against the standard and marketed as MIL-STD-810 compliant or ruggedized.
Testing Methods of MIL-STD-810
MIL-STD-810 details 28 testing methods covering a wide variety of environmental conditions such as rain, vibration, dust, humidity, extreme temperatures, shock and salt fog. NTS engineers are fully conversant with MIL-STD-810 standards and can help ensure your products demonstrate the necessary compliance. NTS can perform all of the tests included in MIL-STD-810 as described below.
Altitude testing examines assemblies and parts that operate in high altitude, such as the cockpit of an aircraft. Testing also subjects components — seals, safety equipment, ejection mechanisms and optical gear — to rapid and catastrophic decompression.
Proper altitude testing considers how devices withstand rapid changes in temperature, humidity and pressure. Passing altitude testing offers the assurance of superior quality, which can be a significant selling point for a product.
NTS has been performing altitude testing since the 1970s and can accurately replicate high-altitude conditions in our labs. We test straight altitudes up to 100,000 feet in addition to a combination of altitude, temperature and humidity as well as altitude/vibration tests and explosive decompression testing. Our test chambers accommodate both components and complete devices. It also offers a ramp up rate for standard altitude testing of 0 to 100,000 feet in less than 5 minutes.
Our experience in environmental simulation and the size of our altitude chambers has earned us a number of defense-related projects. As one of the most trusted names in the nation, NTS has helped the largest aerospace and avionics companies meet regulatory challenges while delivering high-quality products.
Temperature testing examines how components and systems behave in environments with elevated temperatures. Such tests assess the possibility of failures due to mechanical failures, material degradation and parameter shifts.
Testing methods examine the durability of the product when turned off while exposed to high or low temperatures. The methods also examine the functional ability of a device under temperature extremes.
Products exposed to extended periods of humidity tend to deteriorate. Coatings fail, fuels break down and electrical equipment degrades. Humidity testing examines how components and systems behave in environments with fluctuating relative humidity. Such tests assess the possibility of failures due to rapid water or frost formation, fogging and water tightness failures.
NTS has been performing climatic testing for over 50 years, so we understand the full variety of temperature and humidity testing needed to ensure the most reliable, high-performing products. Our temperature testing includes thermal cycling, used to assess solder joint reliability.
NTS performs temperature and humidity tests on their own, or as a combined environments test. Combined environment testing most frequently combines temperature, humidity, and vibration testing in specialized chamber set ups.
Thermal shock testing involves a very high rate of temperature change, usually around 30°C per minute or higher. The test can be useful for any device or component that must withstand abrupt temperature change in a short period of time, such as when products travel warm interiors to sub-freezing exteriors.
NTS offers several protocols for testing products against the effects of thermal shock, ensuring compliance with MIL-STD-810 and other standards. Test items undergo air-to-air thermal shock testing in which a product moves from one extreme temperature to another through mechanical means. NTS accomplishes this through the use of two zone thermal shock chambers. For items that can’t be moved by elevator from one chamber to another, NTS can customize fixtures to accommodate a larger size.
NTS also uses thermocouples to record and document temperatures of items when exposed to temperature extremes.
Exposure to solar radiation can be damaging to equipment which is used and stored outdoors, making the evaluation of materials as they are exposed to radiation and the heating effect of direct exposure to sunlight vital to mission success.
NTS operates cutting-edge solar radiation facilities utilizing proprietary sources of radiation to ensure spectral content and irradiance to the most exacting of requirements. Solar radiation testing includes heating tests to measure the effect of prolonged exposure to heat in addition to actinic effects tests to measure prolonged exposure to sunlight.
We have the capacity to test devices of any size and can help ensure compliance with MIL-STD-810 by testing glazing and transparent armor, carbon fiber, plastics and elastomers, electrical components, communications equipment, alternative power cells and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Severe wind and rain can occur anywhere in the world and can lead to wear and corrosion, limit radar effectiveness and interfere with communications. Testing components and products against wind and rain becomes essential for regulatory compliance and quality control.
NTS has a long history of wind testing for military and civilian devices, offering the largest nationwide network of wind testing labs. Our wind-driven rain testing assesses the impact of falling rainwater on devices, and the impact of moisture penetration on water-resistant enclosures, radio communications, optical properties, radar effectiveness and mechanical functionality.
Our testing exceeds MIL-STD-810 guidelines to ensure a product that’s reliable in all weather conditions. We can also customize a training program to examine specific environmental factors to help further refine your products.
Products designed to function in warm, humid environments should be able to withstand fungal attacks. Fungal growth may cause changes in optical, mechanical and electrical properties of a material, thereby compromising the system or component. With decades of expertise on the impact of fungus, NTS can simulate the precise conditions for fungal contamination. We can also develop a testing program to help ensure compliance with any MIL-STD-810 standards.
Products that are exposed to the elements should be able to withstand the likelihood of corrosion. Resistance to salt spray and fog ensures a higher quality product. Salt fog and salt spray testing will help determine the effectiveness of protective coatings and finishes in addition to the effect of salt on the electrical and physical aspects of a product.
Our NTS testing facilities will accurately recreate the conditions a product will face in poor weather. This permits our engineers to isolate problem areas and make recommendations for improvements. Sealed salt spray chambers subject components to controlled doses of an atomized sodium chloride solution. We use cutting edge data acquisition and analysis tools to evaluate the overall corrosion resistance of your product.
NTS can test large systems as well as small parts, from military hardware, telecommunications gear and power generators to automotive parts and consumer electronics.
Sand and dust can have a damaging impact on sensitive electronics, not to mention the exteriors protecting electrical components. Military vehicles and individual system components are currently one of the largest markets for dust testing.
Procedures test a product’s effectiveness for keeping out particles, exposing it to particles smaller than 150 micrometers and also particles between 150 and 850 micrometers.
NTS operates some of the largest and most accurate sand and dust chambers in the industry, offering tests that can be modified according to special requirements. Our engineers can also make adjustments in real time to ensure tested items are exposed to the right mixture of harmful particulate matter.
NTS is also a leading dust explosion testing company equipped to perform compliance management for OSHA, NFPA and other standards.
Explosive atmosphere testing provides crucial information about motors, aircraft components, electronics, lighting systems and motors. Hot spots on product surfaces can ignite, causing explosions. Explosive Atmosphere testing will determine if a product can operate in a fuel contaminated, highly volatile environment without causing an explosion.
NTS provides comprehensive explosive testing for military, commercial aircraft, automotive, aerospace and operating room equipment. As a full service explosive atmosphere test facility, NTS can provide fuel and vapor mixtures using propane, hydrogen gas, jet aircraft fuel or hydrocarbon n-hexane.
Immersion testing evaluates how a product, component or system functions when submerged or partially submerged in water or other liquids.
Acceleration testing exposes products to acceleration forces for extended periods of time. The inability to withstand acceleration forces may cause structural deflection, leaks, jammed accelerators, damage to mounting hardware, pump cavitation, damage to circuit boards, inoperable relays, impeded pressure and erratic sensor function.
NTS test facilities include centrifuges with electrical slip rings capable of accommodating up to 100 data and control channels. We can also provide swivels to facilitate the pneumatic and hydraulic operation of test items. A wide variety of swivel configurations provide our engineers with considerable flexibility to operate and monitor items during testing.
NTS performs the following acceleration testing:
- Acceleration cycling
- Centrifuge acceleration
- Multi-axis acceleration testing
- Payload analysis
- Thrust application testing
The vibration testing protocol reproduces the kinds of forces that will occur during the course of a product’s operational life. Random vibration testing can identify design weaknesses and can be used on jet engines, cruise missiles, catalytic convertors, motorcycle components and any products designed for transportation.
MIL-STD-810 covers a range of vibration testing, providing different procedures depending on whether vibration is expected during manufacture, transportation or operation.
NTS has been a vibrational testing partner to manufacturers and contractors for over 50 years. Our facilities have been set up in accordance with best practices for isolation mass, inertial mass and reaction mass. Our testing labs have also been carefully calibrated to compensate for the impact of ambient vibrations on the testing process.
NTS vibration testing labs are equipped to perform a variety of tests needed to comply with MIL-STD-810 standards. We can generate up to 70,000 pounds of force with tandem shakers and up to 45,000 pounds of force on a single shaker. We also perform vibration testing in excess of 200 GRMS in a single band and can hook up in excess of 100 data channels.
Shock testing can determine whether devices can withstand high-level impulses and temperature changes encountered during transportation and handling. During testing, a device is subjected to sudden and extreme acceleration or deceleration. Engineers analyze the device’s responses to determine performance quality.
For over 40 years, NTS has offered shock and vibration testing for electrical components, black boxes, antennas, hydraulic components and material samples. We utilize the following methods for mechanical shock testing: pyrotechnics to simulate pyro-shock, drop testing, drop towers to induce mechanical shock, air gun generated hydroshock, free-fall and variable force test techniques. Our test chambers are also capable of rapidly altering the temperatures of test device.
Products exposed to the elements will likely encounter freezing temperatures. Rigorous testing will determine if aircraft structures and controls can withstand freezing rain and ice. Such testing can be crucial for oceangoing vessels because freezing rain can impede the performance of antennas, optical devices and meteorological instruments.
NTS provides climate-induced icing tests that meet a variety of regulatory standards. We can also tailor our testing to the conditions anticipated for a specific product. We not only offer ice and freezing rain tests but also perform testing to replicate hail impact and rapid temperature changes.
MIL-STD-810 Standard Testing at NTS
For over 50 years, NTS has been offering environmental testing solutions for a wide variety of industries including aerospace, defense, automotive, telecommunications and energy. NTS offers the test expertise needed to build stronger, safer, more reliable products. With the largest network of test laboratories in North America, NTS can provide an extensive collection of environmental simulation testing from coast to coast.
NTS facilities are ISO/IEC 17025-accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), permitting testing and certification according to a broad range of specifications, many of our facilities carry DoD specific approvals as well.
Please contact us today to find out more about our rigorous MIL-STD-810 testing procedures for your products and components.