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European Court of Justice rules on norms and standards

"Wait and see what the practical implementation looks like"

Text: Thomas Masuch, 16 May 2024

When the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled a few weeks ago that a standard on toy safety must be made publicly available free of charge, some legal experts feared the collapse of the existing standardization system. After all, the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) gets around 60 percent of its funding from the sale of such standards.

In its ruling, the ECJ stated that the publication of documents cannot be impeded if there is an "overriding public interest". Put simply, if standards are of a legislative nature, they should also be publicly accessible.

While the dust has settled somewhat in the meantime, the topic "remains exciting," explains Prof. Christian Seidel, who has accompanied the development of numerous standards in the AM industry for many years as chairman of ISO TC 216. To see what impact the ECJ's ruling will have on the AM industry, however, "we need to allow some time to pass and wait and see what the practical implementation looks like".

Prof. Christian Seidel. Image: Seidel
Prof. Christian Seidel. Image: Seidel

The website of Beuth-Verlag, which belongs to DIN and is responsible for marketing its standards, now offers more than 70 standards on Additive Manufacturing, as well as around 20 draft standards and 40 technical rules. The cost of the individual works ranges from €41.90 to €190.80. While the standards "have a normative character" and are mandatory for certain procedures and processes, the "technical rules have more of an informative character", says Seidel, who works for the Munich University of Applied Sciences and the Bavarian Doctoral Center, as well as for Wohlers Associates as a strategic implementation consultant. Accordingly, only the explicit standards are likely to be affected by the ECJ ruling.

With regard to Additive Manufacturing, a wide range of topics are described, from the additive production of printed parts to the design and production of test specimens to process requirements and qualifications. However, Seidel also warns that the "technical depth of many standards in the AM sector should be increased". As Additive Manufacturing is still a very young technology, there was a great deal of pressure and need to launch as many standards as quickly as possible, which was "not conducive to the depth of technical consensus that could be achieved". Still, Seidel is very pleased that a large number of standards for Additive Manufacturing are now available. "This helps the entire industry and all its players," he says. And in any case, all standards are reviewed every five years at minimum. (tm)



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