MIL-STD-810 Test Method 510.5 Sand & Dust

MIL-STD-810 Test Method 510.5 –
Sand and Dust


Quick look:

  • Tests for impacts of blowing and settling sand and dust on equipment
  • Sand and dust can impact thermal performance and cause abrasions
  • Includes three procedures: Blowing dust, blowing sand, and settled dust and sand



About MIL-STD-810 Method 510

Method 510 is sand and dust testing. It looks at performance as these types of debris go through or settles on systems. The goal is to identify mechanical problems where things jam up, like a collection on heatsinks that may impact thermal performance or cause abrasions. This includes both how the system looks, as well as its electrical and mechanical performance.

There are two types of material and three procedures used in Method 510. The first kind of sand or dust is a very, very fine talc that’s primarily 149 microns or less. This is similar to the sand experienced during Desert Storm and Desert Shield that filled up computers causing them to not perform thermally or requiring the fans to be replaced. The second material is typically 150-850 microns, which is more of a fine sand, like a silicon dioxide material.

All three test procedures are done at room temperature and around 30% relative humidity.

  • Procedure 1 is typically a six-hour test that involves blowing dust between a 1.5 to 10 meters-per-second velocity.
  • Procedure 2, blowing sand, is in the range of 18 meters-per-second for approximately 90 minutes.
  • Procedure 3 is for settling dust and sand to determine how long a product can sit in a dusty environment and just be settled. For settling dust, the specification is around 105 microns. This is typically a three-day test.

For all of these tests, there should be at least a 10-minute operation at the end to make sure everything still functions correctly and filters aren’t clogged. As with all MIL-STD-810 testing, the parameters need to be tailored for the application.

When testing is complete, results are assessed by asking:

  • Did the unit perform to the specifications?
  • Is there any visual damage?
  • Did electrical performance degrade?
  • Did the system overheat?
  • Are there any visual abrasions or loss of paint or protective coatings that could cause damage to the system?