Igniter/Squib Circuit Testers

THAAD missile

Munition Ignition Testing

Aerospace, defense, and commercial industry produce explosive devices for various military and civilian applications. Considering first and foremost the military sector and further considering the intended purpose of such high energy explosives, both the inherent danger presented during the handling of weapons, and the critical nature of the deployed weapon’s reliability, are obvious yet bear repeating. There are secondary areas that use smaller explosive devices such as the guidance/deployment of those same weapons, and then there are tertiary uses (deploying countermeasures, ejection seats, etc). On the civilian side, airbag deployment in automobiles is accomplished through chemical explosive means. No matter what the size of the devices involved, they all are generally considered mission-critical, and despite the inherent dangers are used because they are powerful, fast-acting, and reliable.

Methods of Detonation

In most applications the principal method of initiating the detonation is through electrical means. An electrical current is passed thorough a thin wire that is bonded to a small explosive. Heat generated by the current flow provides the threshold energy needed to initiate events. Electro/mechanical trigger circuitry controls when the current gets applied. The small explosive often triggers a much larger explosive. The circuits are of varying complexity ranging from the simple low component count mechanisms found on “dumb bombs” to highly complex circuitry found in modern battlefield smart bombs or in automotive safety applications.

Safety & Reliability Evaluation Methods

Manufacturers and end-users alike have long sought methods to ensure safety and reliability of these devices. One such means is to electrically test the detonators, wire cabling, and control circuitry at various points in the life cycle, including:
  • QA tests during manufacturing of the raw components 
  • QA tests during final assembly e.g. packing and loading 
  • Integrity checks during and after storage in warehouses or depots 
  • Point-of-use testing before deployment  
It is critical to recognize that the method of testing applies electrical current to the device in a similar fashion to that which initiates detonation.  The only way to safely accomplish the test is to severely limit the test current to a level several hundred to a thousand times lower than the detonation threshold. 

Safety and Reliability Testing

The current-limiting circuitry must have high safety redundancy with known failure modes, that always fail to a safe condition. Furthermore, in many cases, the required accuracy of measurement is quite high often approaching a hundredth of an ohm. Under normal circumstances measuring resistance to that accuracy is difficult. However, the use of the necessarily low test currents exacerbates the difficulty as a direct ratio. To put it simply, lowering the test current by a factor of one thousand increases the difficulty of the measurement by a factor of one thousand.

Designing for Safety

The ability and experience to design such failsafe and accurate testers is where Raptor Scientific comes in.

Raptor Scientific Solutions

Raptor Scientific is a designer and manufacturer of igniter circuit testers approved by the US Department of Defense for failsafe measurement of the resistance and stray voltage in the multiple electrical circuit paths leading to critical components, like explosives, missiles, or rocket ignition. Our igniter testers come in single-channel and multi-channel models for testing simple electronics paths to complex multi-path circuits.

What Types of Devices are Tested? The Nomenclature...

  • Igniters or Ignitors - used to launch rockets and sometimes used to describe all other triggering methods
  • Fuzes (or less commonly fuses) used to trigger high energy (HE) explosives in bombs or submunitions
  • Mines - Antipersonnel, Antitank, or Anti-armor
  • Squibs - another highly interchangeable term, commonly
    • Deploy parachutes
    • Deploy countermeasures
    • Eject canopies
    • Fire Ejection Seats
    • Deploy fins
    • Pierce seals on automatic fire extinguishing liquids
    • Initiate airbags for automotive use
  • Detonators - defined as demolition trigger devices or alternatively defined as bomb fusing devices
  • Initiators - yet another interchangeable term
  • Explosive bolts for launching missiles, blowing hatches, canister lids, etc. - sometimes interchangeable with "squibs"
  • Deployment mechanisms for countermeasures
  • Types of Electro Explosive Devices (EE)
    • bridgewire (BW)
    • film bridge (FB)
    • conducting composition (CC)
    • semiconductor bridge (SCB)
    • exploding bridgewire (EBW)
    • exploding foil initiator (EFI)
  • S&A - Safety and Arming devices and circuits
  • Wiring and cabling associated with all above devices

Igniter/Squib Circuit Testers


1n-SQB-RUG Ruggedized Squib Tester
1n-SQB-RUG Squib Tester View Product
Multi-Test Point Igniter Tester View Product
Two-Channel Igniter/Squib Tester View Product
Rack-Mounted Single Channel Igniter Circuit Testers View Product
Portable Single Channel Igniter Circuit Testers View Product

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