Bathtub Curve

Why Trust Techopedia

What Does Bathtub Curve Mean?

The bathtub curve is a type of model demonstrating the
likely failure rates of technologies and products. Over a certain product
lifetime, the bathtub curve shows how many units might fail during any given
phase of a three-part timeline. The first downward portion of the curve is
called an “infant mortality” phase and shows how a number of units would quickly
fail due to defects or other issues. The second part of the curve is the “normal
lifetime” or “useful lifetime” segment with a low failure rate. The third part
is an end-of-life increasing failure rate. Together, these three segments look
like a bathtub with two steep edges and a flat bottom.


Techopedia Explains Bathtub Curve

One function of the bathtub curve is to show the likelihood
of initial failure with products. Companies try to eliminate the first infant
mortality phase by refining products and engineering to eliminate “dead on
arrival” products. There is a sense that products that fail quickly will turn
away customers. Companies might use specific tasks like a highly accelerated life test (HALT) or a highly accelerated stress test (HAST) to try to promote
the engineering of more durable and long-lasting products. Technology experts
may talk about eliminating the causes of “infant mortality” failures. All of
this is part of specific product development and quality control in the
enterprise world.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.