UL label: background of UL approved label and why it matters

Background of the UL approved label: what it means for you

You might rattle off the terms “UL label” or “UL approved label” at work without thinking too much about what it means. It’s just part of your lingo – and, after all, as consumers ourselves, we are surrounded by those tags and labels. In 2014, there were nearly 22 billion UL (Underwriters Laboratories) marks on products in 113 different countries. More than one billion consumers have been given safety information from these labels, based on the UL’s 97, 237 product evaluations and 1, 507 safety standards.

This is clearly an important testing and certifying laboratory with a goal of consumer safety. Here’s the back story.

Look back in time at the UL

The UL was founded by William Henry Merrill in 1894 and was originally called the Underwriters’ Electrical Bureau. Merrill’s first job? He tested non-combustible insulation material on March 24, 1894 for a man identified only as “Mr. Shields.” By the following year, though, a fulltime staff of three developed 75 reports and the organization had an annual budget of $3, 000. Just four years later, 1, 000 laboratory test reports were done on items such as arc lamps, circuit breakers, junction boxes and more.

In 1903, the organization published its first safety standard, titled Tin Clad Fire Doors. The first items with the UL certification received this designation in 1905. They were multi-colored Christmas lights and a fire extinguisher. That year, the UL also began doing factory inspections.

In 1907, they inspected the first motor-driven phonograph. (One hundred years later, they were certifying CD players made by more than fifty manufacturers!) By 1909, they were inspecting vacuum cleaners, suction cleaners, motor-driven cash registers and more – and momentum only continued to increase.

The UL began inspecting products that were made in other countries but exported to the United States in 1916, with the opening of its London office. The Underwriters Laboratories of Canada was founded in 1920 – but it took until 1956 for a European presence and until 1992 for UL to inspect and label products in other countries that were not necessarily exporting to the United States. Here’s more about the UL history.

Where the UL approved label comes in

UL is a testing agency that inspects and validates the safety of products. If standards are met, then that product can come with a UL certification (although it doesn’t use the word “approved”). And, the label itself needs to meet permanence standards so that the labels can clearly display safety information on UL certified products.

Here are acrylic adhesive labels by Adhesa Plate that are UL certified for applications on smooth high surface energy materials and low surface energy materials alike – and here are pressure sensitive UL 969 labels by Adhesa Plate.

How can we help you with your UL label needs?

If you have questions or want to talk about your labeling needs, call 1-800-634-9701 now or email us at sales@adhesaplate.com

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