We step into the testing laboratory, where the noise is deafening. We are in the vibration testing facility of VTT Expert Services in Otaniemi, Espoo. This time, the vibration testing device is performing tests on a large frequency transformer, measuring the product's resonance frequencies, or seeking the frequency on which the product begins to resonate. Testing is part of the acceptance testing procedure for ship conditions.
Creating physical stress by means of vibration testing
Vibration testing is used for ensuring the mechanical and functional durability of a product in its actual operating conditions in such places as on board a ship, in an industrial hall or even on a rocket on its way to space. In testing, the device or a part of it is subjected to back-and-forth motion in three different directions. Physical stress is created by means of test programmes simulating actual conditions by adjusting the frequency and intensity of the movement in accordance with either the final customer's wishes or the test standards.
Each test requires designing a specific test fixture and fastenings for mounting the device to be tested. "We ensure that the test fixture is compliant with the testing standard used and that it does not cause interference in the test situation. If necessary, simulation can also be used in designing the test fixture. Furthermore, we can give support for solving problems in product development and assist with other challenges related to environmental testing," says Jami Heinonen, Product Manager at VTT Expert Services Oy.
"As a rule, we test electric assemblies, and the smallest units tested are individual components. We have tested frequency transformers, space technology, such as Aalto-1 satellite, X-ray equipment, packaging for alcohol bottles and drug industry, air-conditioning machinery, mobile phones and tablets, critical equipment for nuclear power plants and different arms industry equipment."
"We have at our disposal, for example, the biggest vibration testing device in Finland, allowing us to test assemblies weighing up to 4,000 kg. Its total mass of 50,000 kilos ensures that we actually shake the devices being tested and not the other way around."
Testing in product development phase also worth the effort
Often companies come to vibration testing when they need approval for a product ready to be sold. "In this case, we ensure that the testing is performed in compliance with the required standards, so that the customer can demonstrate the regulatory compliance and functionality of his equipment as needed. We also perform tests in the capacity of an accredited testing laboratory (T001)."
As competition gets more severe, the cost pressures also apply to the period available for product development and the design rounds. Testing performed at an early stage and observations made during testing assist in spotting product defects at an early enough phase, when making changes is still more cost efficient. That will also expedite the market entry of the product.