As an American manufacturer of vacuum chambers and their associated systems, Terra Universal offers an array of vacuum chamber designs for material testing, thermal testing, stress testing, degassing, atmospheric simulation, and more. In this series, we'll discuss smaller benchtop vacuum chambers for small parts, as well as large high-capacity vacuum chamber models for extra large assemblies or components. Additionally, we'll discuss configurable add-ons such as vacuum pumps, vacuum control modules, vacuum gloveboxes, and vacuum chamber material selection criteria. Whether it's a lab, cleanroom, or unspecified research environment, Terra offers thousands of ready-to-ship products, as well as custom-fabricated solutions for unique applications.

Vacuum Chamber Applications for Outgassing and Degassing

Vacuum chambers for outgassing and degassing applications must consider the rate and volume of gas released from materials when placed in a vacuum. Outgassing rates can be critical as it might lead to contamination of other surfaces, optical degradation, or material failure in vacuum or space environments.

Outgassing refers to the release of gasses from the surfaces of materials when they are placed in a vacuum environment, which can interfere with the performance of sensitive equipment or contaminate samples being studied. Outgassing rates are an important consideration when selecting a vacuum chamber for certain types of tasks because they can lead to interior contamination of the chamber. A low outgassing rate means that fewer gasses are released into the vacuum environment, which maintains a stable environment for experiments or other applications.

Degassing: Degassing processes remove trapped gases and moisture from materials. Terra's acrylic chambers, known for their excellent visibility, are perfect for degassing processes due to their lightweight construction and affordability. Because acrylic is hygroscopic and can hold a small amount of moisture, applying vacuum to an acrylic chamber will draw moisture out of the walls of the chamber and cause a loss of vacuum pressure. If you require a sustained vacuum over a long period, you may be required to leave the vacuum pump running with the vacuum valve open to maintain pressure.

Benchtop Stainless Steel Vacuum Chambers are typically associated with precision testing and research environments that are sensitive to contamination and off-gassing. For example, semiconductor manufacturing, space simulation, surface analysis, and high-energy physics. In these sectors, minuscule amounts of molecular or particulate contamination may cause failures, defects, inaccurate results, and poor reproducibility.

Leak Testing Low-pressure vacuum chambers allow the detection of leaks that are difficult to detect in normal atmospheric conditions. Leak testing is essential for detecting microscopic defects that would otherwise lead to critical failures. Terra offers a variety of vacuum chamber configurations that can accommodate leak testing for liquids or gases. In other cases, Terra's acrylic plastic vacuum chambers are deployed to check for leaks in finished products. For example, milk cartons that would otherwise spoil, sour, or leak. The transparent, leak-tight environment chamber allows for testing cycles of up to 72 hours with a maintained vacuum at 29 inHg.

Helium Leak Testing: In a controlled vacuum environment, this testing method involves the use of helium as a tracer gas to detect leaks in material seams or seals. This is crucial for ensuring the integrity of fuel tanks, pipelines, and other systems that must be airtight and withstand environmental pressures.

Degassing and Drying For Parts and Materials

Multi-functional 304 stainless steel vacuum chambers provide an adequate vacuum environment for degassing, plastics curing, chemical processing, moisture removal, and a host of other operations. The box shape and hinged door allow the vacuum chamber to be situated with the door facing upward or facing forward, depending on your application. Positioning the chamber with the door facing upward can help safely contain liquid spills or corrosive chemicals. Positioning the chamber with the door facing forward allows the door to easily swing open for faster batch processing.

Terra's High Capacity Vacuum Chambers are designed for processing large parts or large batch processes in high-throughput operations for outgas testing and degassing. The internal dimensions measure 35 inches wide and 35.5 inches high, and is particularly suitable for applications requiring a spacious interior and full vacuum capabilities up to 29.9 inches of mercury.

High capacity models are available in lightweight aluminum or robust stainless steel, these extra spacious vacuum chambers offer a practical solution for processing, drying, degassing, and outgas testing of extra large parts. They include dual mini ball valves and a 0-30 inch Hg vacuum gauge for precise monitoring and control. The unit is cleanroom compatible, providing flexibility to adapt to various cleanliness standards and contamination sensitivities that are unique to certain applications. For added convenience and mobility, a castered stand is available but must be ordered separately, allowing for easier relocation and positioning within the workspace.

Stainless Steel Vacuum Glove Boxes for Low Oxygen and Gas Purge Applications

For outgassing testing, a stainless steel vacuum chamber with a high pumping speed is recommended. Stainless steel minimizes contamination from the chamber itself, and a high pumping speed allows for efficient evacuation of released gases, enabling accurate measurement of outgassing rates.

Terra's 400 Series Vacuum Glove Boxes are ideal for larger part sizes that require hands-on manipulation under vacuum but are limited to a pressure rating of -5 inHg for standard configurations. When used in conjunction with the Terra Vacuum Control Model, the system achieves precise automated vacuum control up to 29.9" Hg, allowing for meticulous manipulation of internal conditions according to specific requirements.To simplify loading and unloading, the 23-inch sliding tray extends 14 inches beyond the antechamber opening to facilitate easy loading. The construction of the antechamber emphasizes durability and integrity with a high vacuum design and TIG welded joints. This structure has undergone rigorous testing and is certified leak-free at full vacuum conditions, verified using a helium mass spectrometer to a sensitivity of 3 x 10-10 std. cc/sec for aluminum and stainless steel models.

Vacuum Antechambers & Vacuum Oven Integrations

Terra's Vacuum Antechamber provides a secure, contamination-free environment, ideally paired with Terra’s Series 200 Polymer Glove Box or Series 400 Stainless Steel Glove Box. It is engineered for moisture removal and degassing operations, ensuring these processes do not compromise the glove box's chamber atmosphere. The antechamber is available in materials such as acrylic, aluminum, or stainless steel, each featuring a single, center-clamped, counterbalanced door designed for easy operation and effective sealing.

Terra can also provide support and expertise for vacuum oven applications that require further processing steps, such as "bake out," which removes impurities such as gases, moisture, and solvents from construction materials. By heating the hardware within the chamber, contaminants are eliminated to prevent compromised performance, reliability, and operational life.

Small Batch Leak Testing with Plastic Vacuum Chamber Materials

The major downside of acrylic vacuum chambers is largely associated with the chemical and mechanical properties of the chamber material. Metal materials also offer extended protection against chamber leaks, residual contamination, and conditions that lead to off-gassing. Acrylic walls absorb moisture from the air which is then drawn out of the walls when vacuum is applied, leading to a loss of vacuum over time. Several vacuum cycles may be needed to remove all the residual moisture, but if feed-throughs for wiring or electrodes are needed, aluminum is easier to machine and modify for these applications. Acrylic is more prone to cracking, which may develop into leaks over time. Therefore, acrylic vacuum chambers are ideal for shorter durations under sustained vacuum exposure.

Stainless steel chambers offer the lowest rates of off-gassing when compared to plastic chamber materials, however, plastic chambers may be suitable for some applications. For hygienic applications, plastics tend to be difficult to clean, and are easily damaged by chemicals found in typical cleaning products such as bleach and alcohol based disinfectants. However, Terra also offers plastic material alternatives that are more robust, such as static dissipative PVC that has a broad chemical compatibility and eliminates the threat of static discharge, which can damage sensitive electronics, or generate particle cling on sensitive surfaces.

Acrylic Plastic Vacuum Chambers are often deployed when evaluating finished products for leaks, such as milk cartons that would otherwise spoil, sour, or leak. The transparent, leak tight environment chamber allows for testing cycles of up to 72 hours with a maintained vacuum at 29.9"Hg (99.9% vacuum)

Acrylic Vacuum Chambers with removable top lids and precision CNC-routed channel O-ring inlays to ensure a uniform seal along the entire perimeter of the chamber opening. Therefore, plastic vacuum chamber designs do provide affordable options for generalized vacuum processing, such as the degassing of small parts and mixed liquids, vacuum encapsulation, and general-purpose vacuum experiments.

Acrylic vacuum chambers with front-swinging doors are ideal for batch processing of small parts and are compatible with shelf systems to increase storage efficiency and facilitate easy material transfer. Deep sliding trays allow easy storage of small parts and materials.

Need Help Configuring a Vacuum Chamber System?

As a manufacturer of vacuum chamber systems, Terra Universal offers a deep pool of factory expertise and end to end solutions, including worldwide delivery and globally honored pricing.

Shop Terra Universal Online to browse a wide selection of vacuum chamber systems, accessories, and add-ons including chambers, vacuum pumps, vacuum feedthroughs, humidity control solutions, and nitrogen purge systems.

Contact us or request a quote for custom orders including atypical chamber sizes, gas purge solutions, vacuum pumps, feedthroughs, custom gauges, and other accessories.