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CONSTRUCTION FIXINGS

Standards on Powder Actuated Tools coming soon

Barbara Sorgato, secretary to the European Consortium of Anchor Producers, and these days a regular participant in European standards development, provides a ‘heads up’ on forthcoming regulatory changes on Powder Actuated Tools… and a word of warning for companies that allow others to take the initiative.

S

oon Powder Actuated Tools (PAT) and their components – fixing cartridges and nails for PAT – will be obliged to have the CE marking. The legal history of Powder Actuated Tools and their components is very peculiar. Powder Actuated Tools have been present on the European

market since the 1940s. Before they enter the market, Powder Actuated Tools as well as cartridges have always been proofed according to the technical requirements set up by the Permanent International Commission for Firearms Testing - commonly abbreviated as C.I.P. CIP tests

are not considered as European norms, so, no European CE marking on PAT and on fixing cartridges has ever been possible. To

obtain the CE marking, as a matter of fact, first of all one must relate a product with an EU Directive, then one has to have an EU technical standard. Let’s see what happened for PATs and their components.

Powder Actuated Tools In 2006 the Machinery Directive was revised. It also included

Powder Actuated Tools. Consequently, the European Commission gave a mandate to CEN to issue a standard for Powder Actuated Tools. The standard was drawn up by the group CEN/TC/213, WG 1, which started to work in 2007. The working team was composed of the companies represented

by ECAP, Hilti, Spit/ITW and by some advisors and national marking bodies. The regulation was finished in 2009, and the CE marking for

Powder Actuated Tools will be possible starting from October 2011 and will be mandatory from 2013.

Fixing cartridges Cartridges for powder actuated fastening tools, as well as

pretensioners for seatbelts and airbags, fall under the definition of a pyrotechnic article. So, in 2009 they were included in the work programme of CEN TC 212, WG 5, where harmonised

standards for pyrotechnic articles are developed. The working team was composed of the companies represented by ECAP, Hilti, and by ammunitions producers. The standard is currently under CEN approval, and it is expected to be published within 2011.

Nails for PAT Nails fall under the Construction Products Regulation.

They are ruled by CEN standards, but these do not take into consideration nails with the so called ‘ballistic point’, that is to say those used for PATs. In the last years, two non-standard PAT nails – “Powder

actuated fasteners for the fixings of insulation materials” and “cartridge fired pins”, have obtained a Common Understanding for Assessment Procedure (CUAP). A CUAP is a very important tool for the European market: it

is a procedure for innovative products which are not covered by any harmonised European specification, and it allows firms to place on the market their products with a CE marking, without waiting for the time required to make a standard (usually more than 2 years). A new CUAP for standard PAT nails, “Power-actuated fastener

for multiple use in concrete for non-structural applications”, has recently been drafted by DIBt, the German EOTA Approval Body, in cooperation with three nails producers, and it is waiting for the final endorsement. Starting from 2011 CE marked standard PAT nails will have

to comply with this CUAP. What does this imply? The text of the CUAP is not public, but some basic information is available: only nails made of stainless steel are admitted for external use; nails must be tested also on slotted concrete, following a principle similar to that of anchors; just like CIP, also CUAP implies a closed system of “tool-cartridge-nail”. According to the principle: no component can be standardised. So, every brand of nail must be tested on every PAT model. It is like saying, for instance: before using a Michelin tyre, I must test its compatibility with every single car model by Fiat, Ford, Audi, etc. One can discuss how to make a CUAP more consumer

friendly, but there is something, which is more important: are these companies really aware of the existence and potentialities offered by this powerful normative instrument? How many companies are able to take advantage of the fact that who comes first defines the technical specification of their own product, and consequently the market rules?

So, European companies, do not just stand there… take the initiative!

Who comes later will not have the task and burden of drawing-

up the normative text, but, if he wants to get the CE marking, he will have to comply with your rules. And that means much.

86 Fastener + Fixing Magazine • Issue 68 March 2011

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