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Testing to a Trillion and Beyond: Developing our 17,000+ hour Pump

The Lee Company’s piezo micropumps are made up of multiple, intricate components, operating at ultrasonic frequencies of around 21kHz. Operation at this frequency means that the pumps, and their components, have to be resilient to potential wear upon extended use.

We recently announced that our LT Series Disc Pumps have reached over 1 trillion cycles in testing, exceeding 17,000 operational hours.

It is through high-precision design and rigorous testing that we have been able to deliver on this long service life. The test-based, data-centric product development approach applied at The Lee Company includes the following activities.

Product Development Testing

The Lee Company have developed a purpose-built test platform – the ‘Automated Life Test System’ (please see the video on the right and Figure 1). This system has the capacity to test up to 500 pumps at a time, providing the continuous monitoring of key electrical and pneumatic characteristics; and recording data once every second. Analysis of the data generated offers a deeper insight into our design variants and enables the selection of only the very best designs.

Having such a high throughput system also means many designs can be tested in parallel, and any potential issues can be detected early-on in the product development cycle. The frequency of data received also means we can push our Research & Development forward, faster.

Mapping the Service Life Landscape

So, what conditions do we test under? And how do we map the service life of our pumps?

17,000 hours is the time (‘t1’) at which the normal operational wear process of our LT Series Disc Pumps begin to affect performance at 0.6W drive power (60% of the rated 1W power).

The ‘t1’ performance metric refers to the onset of 10% of the pumps showing 10% degradation in their starting stall pressure. Beyond t1, the pressure/vacuum capacity will reduce gradually; however pumps will typically continue to operate for many thousands of hours more.

Maintaining Reliability through the Product Lifecycle

Our product development process involves iterative testing and debugging activities. Even after product rollout, our pump models continue to be lifetime tested to ensure consistency of pump performance across the product lifecycle.

We also run experiments at different temperatures, duty cycles and power levels. Running such tests is useful in developing a deeper understanding of pump behavior under various conditions. The data gathered helps us to understand the trade-offs between lifetime and performance, which enables our customers to make informed decisions when integrating a disc pump into their product.

At The Lee Company we continually strive to develop higher performance, longer lifetime pumps and are constantly developing, testing and iterating new designs. Contact Us to discuss whether we have alternative designs to meet your needs.