NTS News Center

Latest News in Testing, Inspection and Certification

NTS News Center - Latest News in Testing, Inspection and Certification

Automotive Paint Testing


by Katie Higgs, Special Projects Manager, NTS Baltimore

From door dings to bird excrement, automotive paint must be durable and long-lasting. To ensure quality standards are met and untimely defects are prevented, manufacturers often have a list of required tests to qualify an automotive paint prior to production. Some of these tests may include:

  • Abrasion resistance to establish clear coat durability when abraded or scuffed.
  • Accelerated corrosion, such as salt fog, to replicate areas in which automobiles are exposed to road salt during winter driving conditions.
  • Accelerated weathering usually consisting of 1000-2000 hours of ultraviolet light and water cycling exposure at specific temperatures.
  • Chemical resistance to antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, gasoline, and other automotive-related fluids.
  • Environmental exposure using thermal shock and/or temperature and humidity conditions to hasten potential defects resulting from thermal / environmental changes.
  • Paint adhesion to demonstrate the susceptibility of the paint to separate from its substrate.
  • Paint (film) hardness to quantify the resistance to scratching
  • Paint thickness is a specific requirement for OEM’s, as too little or too much can cause a wide array of issues.

Along with the testing described above, obtaining “measurements” for the paint provides a means for basing process decisions off of quantitative results.  With that, two useful parameters to monitor for painted surfaces are color and gloss.  These parameters provide numerical values for color difference (ΔE) and gloss retention as a result of some type of environmental exposure. Quantifying how much an automotive paint system fades or deteriorates after such an exposure is crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction.

NTS Baltimore recently expanded their automotive paint testing capabilities with a purchase of an X-Rite Ci4200 Spectrophotometer to measure color.

Contact us today to discuss your automotive paint testing needs!

Howell Instruments of Forth Worth TX


NTS Plano had the pleasure of hosting Byron Jones of Howell Instruments to conduct environmental testing for Howell’s new Data Acquisition Units. Howell’s client, MD Helicopters, requested more rigorous testing than Howell is able to conduct internally and turned to NTS for help to meet the DO-160G requirements. Howell was also lucky enough to be the first client to use NTS Plano‘s newest test chamber, the reverberation chamber!

The team at Howell shared their newsletter article about their test experience with us, and we liked it so much, we are sharing it with you! Click here to read the article. To learn more about our friends at Howell Instruments, visit their website at howellinst.com.

Evaluation of Accelerometers for Pyroshock Performance in a Harsh Field Environment

NTS Santa Clarita had the pleasure of assisting Anthony Agnello and Robert Sill of PCB Piezotronics, Inc., Patrick Walter of Texas Christian University, and Strether Smith with the pyroshock testing needed for their white paper “Evaluation of Accelerometers for Pyroshock Performance in a Harsh Field Environment”. Click here to review this white paper.

Click here to review the capabilities at NTS Santa Clarita.

Using functional test on a PCBA after thermal shock to check for PCB failures

Thermal Testing (without humidity) is typically broken into 2 categories (Shock and Cycling). Thermal Shock is performed using a 2 chamber system that rapidly moves product between Hot and Cold Temperatures. In this test the cold temperatures typically range from -40C to –55C and the hot temperatures typically range from 125C to 150C. Thermal Cycling is a single chamber test that gradually moves product from one extreme to the other at 5C to 15C per minute. In this test the cold temperatures typically range from -25C to –40C and the hot temperatures typically range from 65C to 100C. Both tests have the effect of causing expansion of the product and accelerating failures caused by expansion.

Bare PCB’s are typically tested with optimized daisy chain coupons using thermal shock, as the rate of heat change in the chamber has little to do with the failure mechanisms found in PCBs and the faster transitions significantly shorten cycle times. The extended temperatures typically associated with Thermal Shock also provide an additional acceleration factor which can identify potential issues with fewer cycles. PCBs are usually tested for resistance in the chamber at the high temperature where expansion is at its peak.

Assembled PCB’s are typically tested using Thermal Cycling as the rapid transitions associated with thermal shock can cause temperature differentials between the PCB substrate and the attached chips putting strain on the interconnecting solder joints that can lead to premature joint failure that would not happen in real life. In addition, many components are not rated to perform at the high temperatures typically associated with Thermal Shock and can be damaged when exposed to temperatures beyond their rating. In many cases the assembled board is powered and tested or cycled through its operating parameters during the thermal Cycling.

You described to me a situation where your customer is using functional test of assembled PCBs after Thermal Shock to determine failures in the PCB (cracks and IP Separation). There are several issues about this approach that I would like to discuss. Most PCB’s undergo assembly simulation prior to Thermal Shock so the effect of the process of assembling components onto the PCBA in question is consistent with what would typically done to a bare PCB facing Thermal Shock testing. The rapid temperature change associated with Thermal Shock can have a detrimental effect on the solder joints of the PCBA due to the fact that the component and PCB absorb or give off heat at different rates. This can result in a CTE mismatch between the component and the PCB that could cause solder joint failure. This effect is typically limited to surface mount components. It is also possible that certain components can be damaged by the temperatures associated with Thermal Shock. In some components it is possible that those temperatures would change electrical properties to a point where they would not function properly. These factors make it a imperative when using this technique to verify and track down the cause each failure seen in functional test. This verification is necessary to ascertain whether the issue is PCB, Solder Joint or Component related failure as any of these would cause a functional test failure.

Solicitation Alert: Maritime Security Helmets

Helmet TestingSolicitation Title: Maritime Security Helmets
Issued by: Department of the Navy, NSWC Panama City Division

Solicitation Number: N61331-17-R-0002
Solicitation Location: Click here for Solicitation

Issued: 10 November 2016
Response Date: 16 December 2016

  • The purchase is 100% small business set aside. NAICS: 325211, FSC Code: 8470, Size Standard: 1,250 employees.
  • Proposals are due via email to the POC, Alex Potter, alex.potter@navy.mil
  • The following test data is required in each offeror’s proposal (per Section 3.2, Factor 2 of the RFP):
    • Ballistic test data relevant to the ballistic requirements of the SOW and Attachment J-1
    • Evidence that test data sheets originate from ATC or a National Institude of Justice (NIJ) certified lab
    • 9 mm Resistance to Penetration (RTP) and Ballistic Transient Deformation (BTD) results (Attachment J-1 Section and
    • Dry and ambient V50 testing (Attachment J-1 Section 2-gr RCC, 4-gr RCC, 16-gr RCC, 64-gr RCC, and 17-gr FSP
    • Blunt Impact Protection (Attachment J-1 Section 4.9.13 and Attachment J-2)

Please visit this link for detailed solicitation information and attachments: Click here for Solicitation

Solicitation Primary Point of Contact:
Alex Potter, alex.potter@navy.mil, 850-636-6084

NTS Wichita and NTS Chesapeake are both NIJ-Certified laboratories with the expertise and availability to perform all ballistic and non-ballistic testing as identified in the Solicitation. Both laboratories have the capacity to accommodate test range needs and provide deliverables within the due dates specified in the Solicitation.

NTS Wichita POC:
Matt Lutz, matthew.lutz@nts.com, 316-832-1600

NTS Chesapeake POCs:
Craig Thomas, craig.thomas@nts.com, 410-297-8154
Kyle North, kyle.north@nts.com, 410-297-8154

Chicago Open House!


Congratulations to the team at NTS Chicago!

The beautiful new facility was officially opened on October 6th with an Open House event. Visitors included the Mayor of the Village of Mount Prospect, Arlene Juracek, other civic leaders and NTS executives and board members.


“We are pleased and excited to open this gorgeous new facility to our customers,” stated Vicki Panhuise, CEO of NTS (above right with Mayor Juracek), “NTS Chicago is now a full-service environmental and EMC laboratory ready to help our customers deliver products the world can trust.”




Reverberation Chamber Workshop at NTS Plano

On Thursday, November 10, 2016, NTS is hosting its second workshop on reverberation chamber technology at our Plano facility.* Sponsored by ETS-Lindgren and NTS Plano, this is a free, hands-on, half-day workshop open to those that are interested in learning about reverberation chamber test methodology including new applications for this versatile and robust test environment.

Reserve your seat today – space is limited!
This is a free event; please register by November 8th to ensure adequate seating and catering.

Event Details

Date and Time
Thursday, November 10, 2016
12:30pm – 6:00pmLocation
1701 East Plano Parkway #150
Plano, TX 75074

(972) 509-2566

12:30pm – 1:15pm
Complimentary lunch and registration

1:15pm – 5:00pm
Presentations including Q & A

5:00pm – 6:00pm
Reverberation Chamber Testing Demonstrations


For specific questions about this workshop or to confirm your registration, please contact Janet O’Neil, ETS-Lindgren and IEEE EMC Chapter Vice-Chair, at (425) 443-8106 or j.n.oneil@ieee.org.