The cooled IR detectors are used in a wide range of applications. Most of the time, the cryocoolers are one of the components dimensioning the lifetime of the system. Indeed, Stirling coolers are mechanical systems where wear occurs on millimetric mechanisms. The exponential law classically used in electronics for Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) calculation cannot be directly used for mechanical devices. With new applications for thermal sensor like border surveillance, an increasing reliability has become mandatory for rotary cooler. The current needs are above several tens of thousands of continuous hour of cooling. Thales Cryogenics made specific development on that topic, for both linear and rotary applications. The time needed for validating changes in processes through suited experimental design is hardly affordable by following a robust and rigorous standard scientific approach. The targeted Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) led us to adopt an innovative approach to keep development phases in line with expected time to market. This innovative approach is today widespread on all of Thales Cryogenics rotary products and results in a proven increase of MTTF for RM2, RM3 and recently RM1. This paper will then focused on the current MTTF figures measured on RM1, RM2 and RM3. After explaining the limit of a conventional approach, the paper will then describe the current method. At last, the authors will explain how these principles are taken into account for the new SWaP rotary cooler of Thales Cryogénie SAS.
Keywords: Cryogenics, MTTF, Reliability, Accelerated ageing, Stirling, Cooler, IR detector, RM2
Original publications: Proc. SPIE 10180
Thales Cryogénie S.A.S. France: Jean-Marc Cauquil, Cédric Seguineau*, Jean-Yves Martin, Sébastien Van-Acker
Thales Cryogenics B.V. Netherlands: Tonny Benschop