what is a cycle tester?

Cycle tester machines (also referred to as cycle test fixtures, life cycle test machines, etc) are automated pieces of equipment that allow R&D, engineering, and manufacturing teams to repetitively cycle an action on a product and determine if or when the corresponding element on that machine will fail. For example, if there were a living hinge in a plastic injection molded part, one might use a cycle tester to flex that living hinge to determine how many times it can bend before failure. Or, perhaps a team needs to touch a capacitive screen to determine if it will hold up against hundreds of thousands of touches. There are nearly limitless applications for cycle testers.

Engineering teams often use life cycle test machines in the R&D or functional verification stages of product development. In this way, these teams can verify that the critical elements of their product will not fail prematurely. It is often the case, as well, that the only way to determine the life expectancy of a product feature is to life cycle test it with such a machine (warranties on critical components or features are often identified in this way).

Due to the nature of these tests, the number of cycles run will often exceed 100,000 or more, and so it is impractical to have a human performing the cycle actuations (this can and has led to repetitive stress injuries and thus quickly becomes a health hazard for technicians doing the testing). For this reason some level of automation is usually employed in life cycle testing, often in the form of pneumatic actuators producing consistent linear or rotational motion.

Pipeline has developed many custom life cycle tester machines over the years, from simple button-pusher cycle testers to sophisticated automation that not only performs the cycle testing but also loads and reloads consumable components so that the overall system can continue to be tested for endurance. Beyond the cycle testing, we can also provide data acquisition solutions so your team can see metrics associated with the testing (e.g. force, pressure, cycle time, total test duration, etc).

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