Why We Drop Test Across Temperatures

The MIL-STD drop test you see on the spec sheet of a rugged device is often not telling you the whole story. This article explains why it;s important to drop test across different temperature ranges to form a drop test that you can depend on.

The drop test is one of the most well-known tests of ruggedness. When we add a mobile device to our range, ruggedness is always at the heart of what we do and we really like to see a rubberised case for a number of reasons, not just for drop test performance. Firstly a rubbery case will give grip, thus preventing drops in the first place and aiding ergonomics too. It also means that the device will wear better as a rubberised case will withstand scuff, drops and scratches much better than a metal or hard plastic one.


However, for ruggedness, this also means the case has some give in it which translates into a higher drop spec.¬† It’s probably why most rugged devices are plastic or rubber of some kind whereas consumer devices tend to be made from more eye-catching materials like metal or even glass.

However, that’s not the full story. All materials change their behaviour with temperature and it takes a surprisingly small temperature change to see a nice flexible, impact absorbing rubber turn into a solid black, crackable material. There’s a great article about this over on the MIT website. Materials such as glass and metals also change and can become brittle in the cold or heat so it’s important that drop testing is performed over the operating range of a device to see true drop test results.

We have currently tested our R5 and C5 products over their temperature range and we then take the worst performing result and that becomes the drop value for us. This way, when you’re working in the cold or extreme heat, you know the drop spec is still there for you.

Posted by "Durable" Dave

My background is web/mobile software, mobile hardware, where I worked with some of the earliest PDA's on the market from HP and Microsoft and data capture where i've sold all of the main brands of rugged kit you'll find!

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