Accelerated aging is a testing method used to estimate the useful lifespan of a product when actual lifespan data is unavailable. This occurs with products that have not existed long enough to have gone through their useful lifespan: for example, a new type of car engine or a new polymer for replacement joints.
The test is carried out by subjecting the product to unusually high levels of stress, designed to mimic the effects of normal use. Mechanical parts are run at very high speed, far in excess of what they would receive in normal usage. Polymers are often kept at elevated temperatures, in order to accelerate chemical breakdown.
Also, the device or material under test can be exposed to rapid (but controlled) changes in temperature, humidity, pressure, strain, etc. For example, cycles of heat and cold can simulate the effect of day and night for a few hours or minutes.
* [http://www.devicelink.com/mpb/archive/98/07/002.html Medical Plastics and Biomaterials Magazine]
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