Ever wonder how companies determine how long product warranties will be? I use to think it was just some arbitrary number picked at random but now I know products go through the accelerated life test. It’s like giving products the wrong Holy Grail in India Jones. Products that undergo this test are put in Test Chambers that simulate extreme conditions which puts extreme stress on products. Studies show that products susceptible to extreme stress in the short term will be susceptible at lesser degrees in the long term to the same stress. Products, most commonly electronics, go through this ordeal multiple teams before they will hit the Market. If numerous complaints about a product are receive in a short amount of time, producers will often use this test to quickly find the product’s weak points.
The accelerated life test is broken down into five different stages. Products go through these stages in individual parts before the product as a whole will go through. If any part fails, it goes back to the design team before further testing. The first two stages are the cold and heat stages which take place in temperature chambers. This is to determine the lowest and highest operating temperature for the device. The cold stage also determines structural integrity where the heat stage may be combined with a humidity test. Next is the rapid temperature cycle which is basically just rapidly switching to extreme temperatures. After that is the vibration test. This test vibrates the device randomly between 20HZ and 2KHZ. This is done to see how the device will hold up during shipping. Last of all is the combination of vibrations at temperature extremes. Products are vibrated will experiencing extreme temperature fluctuations. All of this is done to determine the lifespan of a product as well as to see if it is functional in extreme temperatures.