Taqi Mohiuddin, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing,
Microelectronics Test and Engineering (MTE),
Evans Analytical Group There are different types of harsh environments and definition of what makes it a harsh
environment for components. Environments that
can cause the component to not perform its intended function,
or be damaged or destroyed can be considered harsh. These
include exposure to water, high humidity levels, ESD, EMI, and
The best way to deal with these challenges is to first
understand the application and operating environment
for the components including whether it is intended for
commercial, industrial, or military use. With that in mind,
both the components and the system/housing can be designed
to withstand the environments. For example, products that
are classified by an IP (Ingress Protection) rating protect
against water, solids and dust. There are also various standards
guidelines that must be followed depending on how the
components will be used.
Lastly, it is important to perform rigorous product testing
to ensure that it will have long term reliability once it is out
in the field. Reliability and environmental testing on both the
components and the system must take place to see how well
they actually perform. This allows design iteration to make any
design changes before releasing them.
Roger Schroder, Engineering Manager, Stahlin NonMetallic Enclosures
Corrosive environmental conditions often act as accelerants for corrosion just as gasoline
does for fire. Factors determining the level of
corrosion in an environment include extreme
weather conditions, moisture, ultraviolet radiation, dust, and
daily temperatures spread between the high and low range—
influencing condensation and moisture evaporation.
Additionally, many industrial facilities must deal with
chemically induced corrosion. Most corrosive chemicals are
either acids or bases. Common acids include hydrochloric
acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, chromic acid, acetic acid and
hydrofluoric acid. Common bases are: ammonium hydroxide,
potassium hydroxide (caustic potash) and sodium hydroxide
(caustic soda). Other chemicals can be corrosive too, so make
sure to check product labels.
A material failure caused by environmental corrosion or
impact damage resulting in a breach of proper sealing can
cause a multitude of problems; ranging from catastrophic
and dangerous system collapses, production downtime and
increased maintenance costs to losses in customers and
Some of the materials used with low performance in
corrosive chemical or environments include galvanized steel
and liquid painted steel. Materials that are preferred options
for corrosive environments include fiberglass, stainless steel,
and some thermoplastic materials.
In an outdoor environment, enclosure materials can fade
due to sun damage and extreme temperatures can affect
the performance of some materials. Thermoplastic (plastic)
materials with low performance in outdoor environments
include polycarbonate and ABS. Fiberglass composite and
stainless steel are two examples of materials offering optimal
Therefore, proper material selection relating to both the
design and product materials is critical. Ultimately, selection
comes down to optimal performance and value. Often, trade-offs between performance and acquisition and operating costs
are made in the process of finding the ultimate choice in a
Nicholaus R. Billig, Product Marketing Manager, AVX Specialized stacked capacitors able to withstand high temperatures, mechanical and thermal
shock, and random vibration are used in downhole
oil drills and 155mm Howitzer tank arms.
Drilling depths now exceed seven to eight miles,
Additionally, the space level stacked and surface mount
ceramic capacitors that power satellite engines must withstand
with high radiation belts, geomagnetic storms, and solar wind
shock waves for long operational life cycles of ≥ 15 years.
These parts undergo NASA developed 1,000-hour life testing
that’s accelerated to the project duration using the Arrhenius
Passive electrical components designed to survive such
harsh environments — as well as to meet ever-changing
specifications regarding size, performance, lifetime, and
cost — are in continuous development, and often with
input from the customers who need them, as working
directly with a manufacturer is one of the best ways to
successfully address harsh environment challenges and meet
all application specifications.
Q: What is the harshest environment for components?
What’s the best way to deal with those challenges?