UV light is responsible for almost all photodegradation of durable materials exposed outdoors. The QUV tester’s fluorescent lamps simulate the critical short-wave UV spectrum and reproduce the physical property caused by sunlight. Several different types of UV lamps are available for different applications, and optical filters are not required. The Q-SUN family of xenon-arc testers uses xenon-arc lamps to produce the most realistic reproduction of full spectrum sunlight including UV, visible light, and infrared radiation. For many materials, exposure to the full spectrum is necessary to provide an accurate simulation, especially when testing for color change and lightfastness. However, xenon light must be properly filtered to achieve the appropriate spectrum for each particular application. Differences in spectra may affect both the speed and type of degradation.

QUV Ultraviolet Fluorescent Lamps

All of the QUV accelerated weathering tester's lamps emit mainly ultraviolet (UV) rather than visible or infrared (IR) light. All are electrically equivalent to an ordinary 40-watt fluorescent lamp. However, each lamp type differs in the total amount of UV energy emitted and in its wavelength spectrum. Fluorescent UV lamps are usually categorized as UV-A or UV-B lamps, depending on the region into which most of their light output falls. 

UV-A lamps are especially useful for comparing different types of polymers. Because UV-A lamps do not have any UV output below the normal solar cutoff of 295 nm, they usually do not degrade materials as fast as UV-B lamps. However, they usually provide better correlation with actual outdoor weathering.

UV-B radiation includes some light with wavelengths shorter than sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface. Consequently, fluorescent UV-B lamps are widely used in Quality Control (QC) and Research and Development (R&D) for fast, cost-effective results. Because all UV-B lamps emit unnatural, short-wavelengths of UV that are below the solar cutoff of 295 nm, anomalous results can occur. 

Q-SUN Full Spectrum Xenon Arc Lamps

Xenon arc lamps give the ultimate correlation to the full spectrum of natural sunlight. Unlike the QUV tester whose lamps directly determine the radiation that specimens see, the Q-SUN tester requires optical filters to accomplish the same. These optical filters are used to simulate a variety of service environments including direct sunlight and sunlight through window glass. Filter performance does not decline with age; therefore, filters do not need to be replaced unless the glass is broken.

The Q-SUN Xe-2 model’s optical filter lantern is designed to produce the spectra specified in ISO and AATCC test methods and is equivalent to sunlight coming through window glass. The lantern consists of an outer borosilicate cylinder and two sets of 7 inner filters, arranged in a two-tier heptagon.

There are three general categories of filters which can be used in the Q-SUN Xe-1 and Xe-3 xenon test chambers. The choice of filter depends upon the material tested and its end-use application. Within each general category, there may be several different types of filters. Each filter is a flat piece of specialty glass specifically designed to have a particular transmission. 

Because the radiation from an unfiltered xenon arc contains too much short-wave UV to allow useful correlation to natural exposures on the earth’s surface, Q-SUN testers employ various types of filters to reduce unwanted radiation and achieve an appropriate spectrum. For most of the filter types used, the greatest effect is on the short wavelength portion of the spectrum. Because the damaging effects of UV are inversely proportional to wavelength (i.e., shorter wavelengths = more damaging), it is critical that the cut-on wavelength match the service environment.

Low Cost Replacement Lamps and Filters for Atlas Weather-Ometer® Testers

Q-Lab offers water-cooled replacement lamps and optical filters for use in Atlas Weather-Ometer® models Ci35, Ci35A, Ci65, Ci65A, Ci4000, Ci5000, and SUNTEST CPS and CPS+. These replacement lamps and filters are lower in cost and guaranteed to have a comparable spectral power distribution to those supplied by Atlas.

®Weather-Ometer is a registered trademark of Atlas Material Testing, LLC


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