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Smiths opens qualification and test laboratory in Dundee

Ribbon cutting by President Karen Bomba

Smiths Interconnect has opened a new Qualification and Test laboratory at its site in Dundee, Scotland.

The laboratory is able to offer a one-stop shop for critical qualification and testing of Smiths Interconnect’s products in Europe. The facility is equipped with in-house multipaction testing and SRS mechanical shock testing system, both in dedicated and environmentally controlled areas.

The Dundee facility can now replicate deep space in terms of vacuum and heat with high power amplifiers and vacuum systems. It can therefore analyse high power devices that are used in space with regards to their breakdown voltage behaviour in a vacuum or near-vacuum environment. This effect, called multipaction, can render a device useless and, thus degrades the reliability of the satellite.

Being able to offer multipaction testing is a major benefit and a real point of competitive differentiation but is also a game changer for Smiths Interconnect.

“It allows access to projects that require significant levels of complex and expensive testing during the development and qualification phases”, says President Karen Bomba. “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.”

The facility also has a machine that can replicate the G-force for a rocket launch to assess what happens to products when they are launched. At maximum shock testing the SRS shock testing equipment generates up to 105dB+ of noise, and therefore requires a special soundproof room. Being in a dedicated and controlled area allows the use of the equipment to its full capacity during normal working hours for the first time.

Radioactive sources can also be used in the laboratory to simulate the sun’s radiation which is quite a complicated test.

In May, earlier this year, Smiths Interconnect committed to create a centre of excellence in Dundee for product qualification and testing. This development accelerated in August 2019, when the centre of the factory was refitted to provide the facility with an unusual capability in the industry.

The multi-phased development will continue to receive further investment over the coming years as Smiths Interconnect expands the lab capabilities to match the company's growing test needs.

Neil Tyler

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