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issue: June 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Testing Equipment
Pressure's On When Electronics Meet Faucets


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Serious cooks have high expectations for convenience, reliability and style when it comes to their kitchen appliances. That includes the kitchen sink, where mechanical faucets are just so yesterday. An emerging trend is to incorporate electronics for hands-free operation. Cincinnati Test Systems (CTS; Cleves, Ohio, U.S.) provides leak and function testing for the new Pascal culinary faucet from Brizo (Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.) Developed by the Delta Faucet Co. R&D Group, Brizo is a stand-alone brand of high-end faucets.

CTS has been a supplier of air-pressure decay leak testing for Delta Faucet for a number of years and began working on the Pascal project at the design stage. “As the design changed, we changed testing as well,” says Gordon Splete, CTS applications engineer. “We went through several iterations.”

CTS adapted its leak testing to valve and spout specifi cations. Its Sentinel line of leak testing instrumentation, with applications throughout the appliance industry, is utilized to conduct a closed valve test performed at 5 cm3/min and an open valve test at 10 cm3/min, both at 45 psig.

The greater challenge was to build tests for electronics. “We had to test to make sure every sensor worked properly,” says Bob Rodenbeck, senior manager of Delta’s R&D Group. A handsfree sensor that looks down the water stream is calibrated and function tested to verify the correct operation for opening and closing the water valve. Another test is performed on the sensor that detects when the spray wand has been pulled out of the spout holder. In addition, sensors on the handle and spout are tested to verify a correct response to the user’s touch.

Building the function testing involved a series of electrical signal measurements that move back and forth between the faucet controller and the test machinery PLC processor. The touch feature proved to be one of the big challenges. CTS designed a circuit to simulate the human body’s characteristics. “The circuit had to simulate a human touch very well and take the operator variability out of it,” says Rodenbeck.

“Because of the touch requirement, even holding parts was a challenge,” says Splete. “We had to isolate them using nonconductive elements around the parts and hold them so they wouldn’t move.”

From initial talks to production, the collaboration took about a year and involved a team of a dozen or so people. Both Rodenbeck and Splete say prior experience working together, along with open communication and fl exibility, were essential.

“Any time you introduce new technology and new testing, you’ll have these ‘who would have thought that would happen’ moments along the way,” says Rodenbeck. “You have to partner with somebody who will work with you because it’s impossible to predict everything that’s going to go wrong. You have to be prepared for obstacles and work on those as a team.”

“From a supplier standpoint, we had a good starting point with Delta Faucet’s initial requirements and specifications,” says Splete. “We had to be open and flexible when design changes occurred. We live in an engineering world where everything is defined and straightforward. When things change, it affects everything. When it comes to electronics, you really have to be open-minded.”

Now in production, Pascal culinary faucets must pass inspection at CTS testing stations before going into the box. Rodenbeck says, “It’s working very well.”

 

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