NOVI, Mich., Sept. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Automakers always are concerned about fluids and refrigerants that leak out of their vehicles, but INFICON, the leader in automotive leak testing, says they also should be as concerned about what potentially could leak into their vehicles.
"No one wants to find oil, transmission fluid or coolant on their driveway or garage floor," says Thomas Parker, INFICON's North American automotive sales manager, "but water vapor and dust also can leak into key safety systems such as air bags, brakes, EV battery packs and autonomous guidance systems which poses a real danger to consumers down the road."
INFICON is exhibiting at The BATTERY Show in Novi, Mich., (booth #444) Sept. 10-12, 2019.
Parker points out that "ingress" leaks occur when water or dust enter components through seams, holes, leaky gaskets and porous castings and can cause fires, degrade autonomous vision systems and create air bag malfunctions.
Leak-rate specifications for ingress protection are typically stricter than for outflow leak testing. That's because it's easier for water vapor in the form of humidity in the air to make its way into an assembly than it is for more viscous liquids to leak out, Parker explains.
Consumer electronics and some automotive components are increasingly being certified using ingress protection ratings established by the International Electrotechnical Commission. Ratings such as IP67 rate a device's degree of protection from dust, accidental contact and water, with the first number from 0-6 representing solid foreign objects such as a finger, tools, wires, insects and dust. The second number from 0-9 represents protection from water ingress over time.
The lowest numbers represent resistance to pressure jets of water, such as rain, splashing, etc. The higher numbers represent the component being submerged under water to a certain depth for a certain amount of time.
A variety of methods are used in leak-rate testing, including vacuum testing, pressure-decay testing, and helium bombing, which all can use helium as the tracer gas. Parker notes that INFICON's customers often struggle to determine which helium leak-rate specification corresponds to the IP67 rating. That's because the specification can vary from 5 micrometers to 30 micrometers, depending on the housing materials that are being tested (plastic, metal, glass, etc.) Using pressure decay and other air testing methods for moisture ingress leak testing is difficult if not impossible, since they do not provide the leak rate nor gage R/R (repeatability and reproducibility) requirements of the automotive industry.
To learn more about the best strategy for choosing the right helium leak-rate specification, visit INFICON's recent AUTO TEST newsletter on its website. For the best leak-rate specification for the material being tested, Parker recommends that customers contact INFICON directly.
INFICON is one of the world's leading developers, producers and suppliers of instruments and devices for leak detection in air conditioning, refrigeration and automotive manufacturing. The company has manufacturing facilities in Europe, China and the United States, as well as sales and service offices throughout the world. More information about INFICON automotive technology is available online at www.inficonautomotive.com.