Results from a recent study that looked at how battlefield-born vibrations, like those from blasts and heavy armored vehicles, for example, are leading research scientists to rethink military vehicle testing and evaluation methods that could also, eventually, improve automotive and aviation industry standards. Army and University of Maryland researchers and engineers have developed reliability tests to better capture unforeseen failures in ground and air vehicle designs before the military adopts systems and components.

The reliability models and test methods were run on the TEAM Tensor 900 six degrees of freedom (6-DoF) shaker, one of only two of its kind in the world. Instead of the current practice of vibrating a product sequentially for every axis, the Tensor 900 is capable of vibrating a product in three translational and three rotational motions simultaneously. Results provide a way for researchers to better understand how components fail under the military's – and industry's – most rigorous conditions where vibration is extreme, and with this information, ground and air vehicles can be built better to guard against known vulnerabilities.

Products currently being tested include electronic circuit cards and structural components. Test methodologies and theories can be extended to sub-system and system level testing. Future tests will examine different systems. Researchers expect the impact of their work to improve accuracy of MEMS and micro-devices, and provide a greater understanding of failure mechanisms in blades due to complex loading profiles.