Smiths Interconnect has opened a qualification and test laboratory at its site in Dundee, Scotland. The lab will provide complete qualification testing for Smiths Interconnect products in Europe.
The Dundee facility can replicate deep space vacuum and heat with high power amplifiers and vacuum systems. This capability supports analyzing high power devices planned for space applications, such as device breakdown voltage behavior in a vacuum or near-vacuum environment. This effect, called multipaction, can render a device useless and degrade the reliability of a satellite.
Offering multipaction testing is a major benefit and a competitive advantage for Smiths Interconnect. President Karen Bomba said, “It allows access to projects that require significant levels of complex and expensive testing during the development and qualification phases. Previously cost prohibitive, we can now pursue contracts where multipaction testing is likely to be required multiple times throughout the product development cycle. It also allows us to bid on projects where customers require ongoing multipaction testing of deliverable products.”
Other capabilities of the Dundee facility include
- Spectrum Response System (SRS) mechanical shock testing in dedicated and environmentally controlled areas.
- Replicating the G-forces encountered during rocket launch, to assess what happens to products when launched.
- Simulating the sun’s radiation using radioactive sources.
At maximum shock testing, the test equipment generates 105 dB audio noise, requiring a soundproof room. With a dedicated and controlled area, the equipment can be used at full capacity during working hours for the first time.
“When customers visit our site, we want to wow them with a world-class lab that matches our world-class products,” said Bomba. “Creating this modern and leading-edge facility that aligns with Dundee’s reputation for the design and manufacturing excellence of our products was an important objective.”
The investment in the new facility reflects Smiths Interconnect’s commitment to having world-class capability and be a partner of choice. In May 2019, company leadership committed to create a center of excellence in Dundee for product qualification and testing. In August 2019, the center of the factory was refitted to provide this test capability.
Smiths plans further investment in a multi-phased development to expand the lab’s capabilities in the coming years.