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Comparison between constant-stress and step-stress accelerated life tests under Time Constraint



By running life tests at higher stress levels than normal operating conditions, accelerated life testing (ALT) quickly yields information on the lifetime distribution of a test unit. The lifetime at the design stress is then estimated through extrapolation using a regression model. In constant-stress testing, a unit is tested at a fixed stress level until failure or the termination time point of test, whereas step-stress testing allows the experimenter to gradually increase the stress levels at some prefixed time points during the test. In this work, the optimal k-level constant-stress and step-stress ALTs are compared for the exponential failure data under complete sampling and Type-I censoring. The objective is to quantify the advantage of using the step-stress testing relative to the constant-stress one. Assuming a log-linear life–stress relationship with the cumulative exposure model for the effect of changing stress in step-stress testing, the optimal design points are determined under C/D/A-optimality criteria. The efficiency of step-stress testing to constant-stress one is then discussed in terms of the ratio of optimal objective functions based on the information matrix. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 00: 000–000, 2013