Weathering Tests: Investigating the Colorfastness of a Product

You have designed a beautiful new product, but it is not yet clear to what extent the materials used may discolor under the influence of light and moisture. When performing weathering tests, we place the product in a climate chamber with artificial light, heat, and humidity to determine if it meets the desired ISO standards.

On this page, you will learn what a weathering test entails and the different weathering tests we offer.

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What a Weathering Test Involves

Products that are (also) used outdoors are exposed to light, moisture, and heat. Over time, this will cause product discoloration, but it is virtually impossible to predict when these discolorations will occur.

A weathering test (also called a lightfastness or colorfastness test) accelerates the simulation of sunlight, high temperatures, and rain, so a process that takes years is replicated in a much shorter time. After this test, you will know what customers can expect from the colorfastness of your products.

M2lab offers two different weathering tests: the QUV test and the Xenon Arc test. The most common ISO standards followed are ISO 4892-2 or ISO 4892-3 and ISO 16474-2 or ISO 16474-3. For textiles, ISO 105-B04 or ISO 105-B02 is often followed.

In addition to ISO standards, ASTM standards are also frequently used. The most important of these are ASTM G154 and ASTM G155.

Do you want to test your product
according to the ISO 4892 or ISO 16474 standards?

The QUV Test

The QUV test uses only light from the UV spectrum. By default, this is UVA light (340 nm), but UVB light (313 nm) is also possible. This weathering test simulates the influence of years of sun and moisture on a coating or plastic within just a few weeks.

Sometimes testing is done with continuous light, but usually with alternating light and dark periods combined with water vapor. The duration of the light and dark periods depends on the standard being followed.

The QUV test follows ISO standards ISO 4892-3 and ISO 16474-3.

The Xenon Arc Test

The Xenon Arc test, formerly known as the Weather-o-meter or WOM test, is the most reliable test for simulating the long-term effects of sunlight and moisture on a product. Unlike the QUV test, the Xenon Arc test uses the full spectrum of sunlight. Both UVA and UVB, as well as visible light, are simulated with a Xenon lamp.

This weathering test can also be combined with water spray and/or filtering through glass (a window glass filter).

The Xenon Arc test can be performed according to ISO standards ISO 4892-2 and ISO 16474-2.

Which Weathering Test is Most Suitable?

Since it is impossible to predict beforehand which test best simulates the defects that will occur in practice, a combination of both weathering tests is usually applied to estimate the lifespan of a material. One test panel is placed in the QUV test, and another in the Xenon Arc test.

Want to know which test applies best to your product?

Execution of the Weathering Test

Our QUV weathering tests are typically performed on panels measuring approximately 150 x 80 mm. The Xenon test is usually performed on samples of 80 x 50 mm. These test panels are placed in a so-called accelerated weathering cabinet, after which the samples are irradiated and, if necessary, moistened according to a fixed procedure.

Any surface damage to the samples is assessed, and if necessary, changes in color or gloss are also measured.

Duration of the Tests

It is impossible to predict how long the testing should last to simulate 5 or 10 years of sunlight exposure. During the simulation of aging processes, deviations may occur. Many of our clients follow the rule of thumb that 1000 hours of testing roughly corresponds to one year of full sun exposure in Western Europe.

In addition, the test duration is highly dependent on the material and how the product is used. For example, a bicycle is not always outdoors, as most people regularly store it in a shed. In that case, you could potentially test for a shorter period. However, this does not apply to popular rental bikes, as they are almost always outdoors. The result of 1000 hours in the weathering test should be interpreted differently compared to a regular bicycle.

Do you want to test your product
according to the ISO 4892 or ISO 16474 standards?

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