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Air Leak Testing – How to Test Electronics

How to test electronics for air & sound leakage

For long-lasting electronics that are able to withstand the test of time, compressed air detection is an essential part of the QA process. Not only can an air leak indicate a point of ingress that could cause corrosion or stop a device from achieving the desired IP rating, but when it comes to speakers and headphones, it could even distort the sound.

How air leakage can compromise electronic products

An air leak in a sealed electronic device can be a point of ingress that introduces the kind of elements than can cause corrosion or decay over time, including microscopic bits of dust or water droplets. This can be a big problem for delicate electrical circuits and components.

If air is able to get into an electronic device, then it’s possible that other solids and gasses can too. Most of the everyday essentials consumers enjoy – from smartphones to home speakers – have an IP (or ingress protection) rating, to let buyers know how protected they are from the elements.

Air leak testing offers a cost-effective way to determine a product’s IP rating and is able to compensate for the fact that many electronic devices have an ePTFE (Expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene) membrane that allows it to make barometric pressure equalization while protecting “open” areas like microphones and speakers.

Air leakage and audio

Air leakage is particularly problematic for audio products, as it can affect the quality of the sound. From earbuds to large speaker systems, even a small leak can be a problem.

A leak point between a speaker’s connections or in the housing can cause sound waves to travel in directions they weren’t indented to – and this can distort the sound your consumer hears.

While it is possible to test for these discrepancies using microphones to try and pinpoint the location of the distortion (and therefore leak), at Industrial Physics we believe air leak testing is by far the most efficient method.  Sound moves via the air, so if we detect air movement during testing, then we know sound is passing through where it’s not meant to.

The two types of tests we recommend when testing for air leaks in electronics are:

  • Mass flow testing
  • Pressure decay testing

Many of our testing solutions are capable of carrying out more than one kind of test, allowing you to create an integrated approach. Discover more about the air leak, flow and vacuum testing options we supply on our TM electronic testing page.

Full circle electronic testing with Industrial Physics

As well as air leak testing, we offer a full range of solutions for electronic products, including crimp testing for electrical wires, actuation force testing ideal for touchscreens, bend and flex testing of finished products and many more leak test systems. To discuss how we could work with you to find a full and supported solution for all your testing needs, get in touch