Helium is in short supply and its cost is rising. Global sources may even run dry by the end of the century. And yet, it remains the dominant choice for trace-gas-based leak-testing on the production line. How can you make the most of this increasingly precious commodity for your critical quality assurance needs?
Helium leak testing is one of the oldest and most developed members of the family of trace-gas-based leak testing methods. Even though the title contains the word “helium,” this article is intended as an overview of trace gas methods in general.
From airbags to air-conditioning units and fuel rails, from anything implanted in the body to hermetically sealed enclosures for integrated circuits, there are some instances where the acceptable leak rate is so small as to be practically zero. Few air leak test methods, such as pressure decay, have the necessary detection range.
As far as origin stories go, the technology behind helium leak detection is more glamorous than most. That is, when compared to the bubble test, a method many will remember experimenting with during childhood after a popped bicycle tire.