Environmental Chambers

A safe place for testing everything from heat to vibration and stress

One way to facilitate workplace safety best practices is to create an environment for testing variables.

And the piece of safety equipment that allows such testing is the environmental chamber, which comes in various shapes, sizes and types. Their customary use is for testing parts; some environmental chambers are used to grow cultures or specialized crops without outside influence.

Most environmental chambers use meters and readouts for time, date, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc. Many companies make their own environmental chambers, either in house, or custom-built by a supplier to meet their specifications.

If all you need is an acoustic chamber to test the acoustic value of various materials, it's probably best to make your own. If you need a chamber with many options, multiple settings and complete computer interface, your best option is to call a supplier.

Environmental chambers are typically very accurate, measuring as precisely as 1/10 of a degree, for example. Most chambers are designed so that extreme fluctuations are possible, in order to put the maximum stresses on the product being tested.

Thermal is the most common type of environmental chamber

The most common type of environmental chamber is for thermal testing (heating as well as cooling qualities).

Vibration analysis, moisture absorption and stress testing are also common functions of environmental chambers. Many industries have their own specific tests for these functions, such as repetitive motion to test the durability of an item.

Environmental chambers are often only designed to maintain a certain condition, such as a constant temperature or level of humidity.

Most environmental chambers are designed as stand-alone units, but they can also be tied together with other systems, such as an alarm monitoring system.

Automobile testing is another example: while one vehicle part is being tested, the exhaust can be diverted through an environmental chamber and examined there.

Environmental chambers controlled by programmable logic controllers (PLCs) could obviously change the rules, since they make possible almost any test - even if no one is there. PLC-driven environmental chambers also make it possible to link multiple systems together in those instances where timing gets tricky.

The three most common sizes of environmental chambers are bench-top, reach-in and walk-in units. Bench-top units are designed for very small items; reach-in environmental chambers accessible only via the openings; and walk-in units are suitable for the largest items being tested.

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