Soak testing involves testing a product in order to determine its ability to stand up to a high volume of usage and to find out what may happen outside of the product’s design environment. It is a form of performance testing in electronics manufacturing to determine how a particular product will survive “in the wild.” The function and stability of the device are tested over a long period as a way of identifying any manufacturing defects that might kill the product.
Soak testing is important for two main reasons. First, it ensures that the device will actually perform as expected. Second, soak testing helps safeguard your reputation as a manufacturer and save you from spending time and resources to rectify faults that should have been spotted earlier.
Soak testing is also referred to as endurance testing. It involves a simulation of real-life conditions to which the product will be subject once it is purchased by the end user. For example, at EMS Solutions we can replicate the conditions that our printed circuit board assemblies will be subject to in order to assess their performance over time.
Problems could crop up during a product’s life cycle, either at the beginning or end. Soak testing aims to ward off these potential problems before they affect the user. There have been many cases of products that work well in the initial stages of use but perform erratically or fail later. Soak testing also helps identify faulty product components that might have passed early inspections but will fail in the course of ongoing vetting.
The soak test will expose the products to situations that approximate real-life scenarios. For example, a product that will be used by an international airliner is placed under a wide range of temperature settings that are subject to quick and arbitrary changes. The product being tested must function in a rapidly transforming environment.
Soak testing is different from stress testing. In soak testing, the product is tested under normal conditions while in stress testing, the product is tested to its breaking point. This means that a product might pass soak testing but fail in a stress test.
All good manufacturers know not to release products unless they have been subjected to extensive testing. It keeps the company’s reputation strong and customers happy.