If you do not have the resources to purchase a new chamber, or cannot find the right second user chamber, why not refurbish your existing equipment.
One of our major customers had a requirement to carry out altitude testing as part of their product testing procedures. They had a 1000 litre vacuum chamber which was approximately 30 years old. Over the years the chamber had been partially upgraded and modified leaving a chamber with little documentation and extremely difficult to operate because of all the modifications. Getting the chamber prepared for a test often took longer than the test itself. The age and condition of the chamber also made it extremely unreliable making it difficult to get through a full test without failing.
The customer looked into the purchase of a new vacuum chamber but the cost proved to be prohibitive, mainly due to the limited use the chamber would receive.
ETS suggested that the best solution was maybe to carry out a full refurbishment of the chamber. The vessel was basically sound if a little dated on the outside. ETS provided a quotation and scheme for the chamber refurbishment of the chamber. The refurbishment cost was about 1/3 of the cost of a new chamber.
The chamber was transported to our Nazeing works in September 2006 and the refurbishment was underway.
The first task was to totally remove all existing mechanical and Electrical plant. Major components (compressors, vacuum pumps, fan motors) were overhauled and reused in the refurbished chamber.
The chamber was reskinned changing the look from a very drab green to modern grey and blue to match new modern chambers in the lab. This gave a totally new look to fit into a modern laboratory. The layout of the large mechanical components was revised to ensure ease of service. In the original layout oil changes were very difficult which meant they did not often get done. A new steam generator was installed to provide better humidity functionality.
The refrigeration, humidity and vacuum pipe work were all replaced taking great care with the positioning of solenoids to ensure that they could easily be accessed in the event of failure. The overriding philosophy of the refurbishment was to provide ease of use for the customer and ease of service for engineers. This will ensure the refurbishment has a long life.
A new control panel was manufactured with new switchgear and MCBs in place of fuses. The controller used was a 3 channel Eurotherm 2704 with extensive logic functions which was coupled to a 2000IO expander to provide the additional switching functions needed. The 2704 is the heart of the system and manages the complex functions required on a temperature/altitude/humidity chamber. Due to the chamber layout the controller had to be mounted at low level. To ensure ease of use the controller was angled upwards to provide ergonomic operation for the operator.
The chamber was commissioned and accepted by the customer at our Nazeing works and delivered to site in January 2007.