The construction industry’s inherent risks makes quality control of the materials involved an essential part of any successful project. An ETA license is one of the most reliable ways to prove that components such as frame fixings, mechanical anchors, concrete screws and chemical anchors are well-designed, safe and have been tested under a wide variety of circumstances.
An ETA certificate is not merely a useful document to verify the quality and reliability of building materials: it is also compulsory in certain cases. Therefore, it is crucial to understand exactly what an ETA certificate is, why it is important to use ETA approved anchors and other materials, and how to follow best practices guidelines.
What is the European Technical Assessment?
ETA stands for European Technical Assessment, a procedure established by European law in order to harmonize the safety performance for construction products. The ETA certificate confirms that a product complies with a set of performance criteria previously established by a European Assessment Document. For instance, an ETA may attest to an anchor’s working life of at least 50 years, although more recent ETAs extend its working life up to 100 years.
Due to the ETA certificate’s usefulness as a marker of quality and safety, the use of ETA approved anchors is obligatory in any construction project in which the anchor’s failure might cause a structure to collapse, pose a risk to human life or lead to significant economic losses.
Thus, ETA certificates confirm the suitability and quality of approved products not covered by a harmonised standard, and allow manufacturers to freely market them in Europe and the UK. Such is the case with CELO’s Concrete screws, anchor bolts, sleeve anchors and drop-in anchors meet ETA approval requirements.
How do products get an ETA assessment?
A European Technical Assessment certificate for any given product takes an average of five months to obtain. However, as we will see in the following lines, processing time may last up to nine months longer when additional documents must be designed as well.
The procedure for obtaining an ETA certificate comprises the following steps:
- Inquiry: Manufacturers must request an ETA from any official Technical Assessment Body approved by EU legislation. The TAB will then send a request form, in which the manufacturer must specify the product’s characteristics (e.g. type and description, intended use, applicable European Assessment Document).
- Quotation and contract: After checking the request form, the TAB will provide a quotation and, after the manufacturer’s acceptance of the terms, signs a service contract which guarantees confidentiality during the process.
- MTF and development of an EAD: The manufacturer then sends the TAB a MTF (Manufacturer’s Technical File) of the product. If no European Assessment Document covers the specific product, it is necessary to either create a new one or amend a previous document, which may extend the process for another 9 months.
- Development and issuing of an ETA: After testing the product according to the EAD’s specification, the TAB then writes an ETA which is then checked by other TABs for feedback. Lastly, the TAB will modify the ETA draft on the basis of the feedback received and write the ETA for the produc
After receiving ETA approval, the manufacturer must draw up a Declaration of Performance for the product, which states its performance capabilities as confirmed by the ETA certificate.
Why it is important to use eta approved anchors
There are several benefits to using ETA approved anchors and other building materials. Among them, the following are especially relevant for any construction manufacturer interested in the EU market.
Security and reliability
Products who have successfully applied for an ETA assessment guarantee their safety and reliability. Their performance value and characteristics are thoroughly outlined in the document, thus increasing security in any construction project.
International standing and added value
ETA approved products can travel freely across the borders of the European internal market. However, the ETA procedure includes countries outside the EU and has a very high standing on an international level. In fact, ETA certificates have often increased sales of a given construction product.
Objectivity and transparency
An ETA certificate provides objective performance characteristics which can be verified by checking harmonised European Assessment Documents. In turn, these documents are issued by independent TABs which grant credibility to the product and increase customer trust thanks to the transparency of their assessment methods.
What types of ETAs exist?
There are many types of ETAs depending on each product’s characteristics, materials, intended use and assessment methods. Therefore, several classification methods exist for ETAs depending on the criteria used to categorize them.
Classification by substrate
The ETA always indicates the substrates in which the anchor may be used according to the positive tests carried out. For instance, there are specific ETAs for concrete and masonry (Multifunction frame plug MFR), thermal insulation composite systems (Insulation fastener IPD), and for wood fasteners (Chipboard screw VELOX).
Classification by intended use
Similarly to other assessment standards such as DIN, ETAs always include a statement about the intended use, such as “suitable for use as a multiple fastening of non-load-bearing systems in cracked concrete” (Suspended ceiling anchor DA).
Classification by testing
In the case of metal anchors and chemical anchors, ETAs divide products into options from 1-12, depending on the number of tests that have been undertaken in order to assess the performance quality of the product.
For instance, Option 1 anchors have passed the most extensive tests, thus allowing for the widest range of applications, including use in cracked concrete. ETA Option 1, therefore, means that the product can be used in cracked and uncracked concrete. Option 12 anchors have the smallest area of application and are only suitable for uncracked concrete.
Can ETA-approved anchors be used in earthquake-prone regions?
Not necessarily, but usually Option 1 anchors are seismic action tested. The seismic resistance values (C1 and/or C2) you will find in the ETA. We indicate this with a seismic symbol.
The product is suitable for use as an anchor subjected to seismic loading according to the European Technical Approval/Assessment.
Are ETA-approved anchors fire resistant?
Not necessarily. For anchors that can be used in cracked concrete, e.g. anchors with option 1, you will usually find fire resistance values in the ETA that are theoretically calculated on the basis of a technical rule. These values are rather conservative. However, practical tests can also be carried out in a special oven to determine fire resistance values for anchors.
If theoretical or practically determined values are available, we mark this with a fire symbol. The number after the F stands for the duration in minutes during which the fixing retains its function under fire stress (with decreasing performance).
What other approvals and tests are there?
In addition to the ETA-approved fastening solutions, we have products with further approvals and tests. The ProtectFIX® window securing system, for example, has the burglary resistance class RC2 and is a tested mounting system for fall protection according to the ETB directive (components that secure against falling).
The BTS M concrete screw has a general building authority approval for building products issued by the DIBt Berlin, as the highest German building authority.
Many of our non-ETA-approved products are distinguished by further national tests (e.g. by the IFBT- Institute for Facade and Fastening Technology) or are suitable for special applications such as the attachment of sprinkler systems to concrete ceilings or fastening to hollow prestressed concrete ceilings. Chemical anchor systems have a classification for ecological, low-pollutant and low-emission construction. Other products are made of high-quality materials such as glass fibre-reinforced polyamide or A4 stainless steel.