air leak testing:
This is a relatively recent technology, which is not widespread
in the industry. The principle is to detect leaks using ambient
air that is ionized and then moved with a voltage difference.
If there is a leak path, the ionized oxygen molecules in the
air will flow through it. As the technology implies a voltage
difference, it can only be applied to electrically insulating
like glass, non conductive plastics and rubber.
Since those materials are in general difficult to test with
other air testing technologies like pressure decay or mass
flow, the ionized air leak test can be a great alternative
to tracer gas
like helium or hydrogen leak testing. Ionized air leak testing
is less expensive than a helium or hydrogen test since it
just uses electricity and ambient air.
The other advantage is that it tests at the speed of electricity:
litteraly lightning fast.
So if you have a high volume production of parts made of electricaly insulating materials, this might be a good technology to use.
The ionized air test can also detect leaks in a given spot
and can be used to locate leaks.
The ionized air tester can also be set up to detect a smaller leak than the ones found by an air pressure or vacuum test.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEEN AN IONIZED AIR LEAK TESTER AND A "SPARK
The ionized air leak test should not be confused with "spark
testers". An ionized oxygen molecule is not the same thing
as a plasma.
Spark testers also use high voltage to detect
a defect, with very high current that generates visible sparks
seen by an operator.
The "spark testers" are very dangerous to the operator
since they use high voltage and enough current to kill a healthy
When such a lethal power is present, the large amount of ozone
they generate in the sparks seems to be only a remote danger
but it is also a significant health hazard.
Another variation of the spark tester using a modified HiPot
electrical appliance tester instead of a visual control to
detect a defect is also potentialy lethal.
In comparison, the ionized air leak testers generate no visible
sparks, and less ozone than an office copier machine. Like
every plugged electrical equipment, you cannot let children
play with it,
but a healthy adult human properly grounded can touch the
ionized air generator during a test, feel the electric shock,
Of course ATEQ does not recommend to submit yourself to repeated
small electric shocks, it is just a safety feature.
Leak test of thin rubber gloves, condoms, rubber diaphragms, membranes, plastic films,
Leak test of small plastic vials. Leak test of injection points in plastic bottles.
Medical devices or pharmaceutical packaging, high quality
food packaging, household cleaner containers...
Since ionized oxygen molecules do not travel as easily as a spark (plasma), there are some applications restrictions, some considerations in the test fixture design.
For all those know how questions, ATEQ has application engineers that know most of the common application problems and that can help you devellop an application
Although there is a measurement of the ionized air flow, the
measurements do not correlate easily to a classic air test
The application can be set up to detect smaller
leaks than an air pressure or vacuum based classic mass flow or pressure decay tester
The ATEQ applications engineer is there to listen to your
needs, and recommend the best matching solution accordingly.
Not a one shoe size fits everyone approach.
ATEQ's solution: Link to ATEQ
Ioniq instrument leaflet