ensuring safety

Your Guide on Aerial Rigging Hardware — Strength Testing and Safety Certification

fly fearlessly

Your gear, certified and tested.

Aerial arts is exhilarating, challenging, and truly MESMERIZING! It is your self expression unleashed in the most geniune and beautiful way, inspiring all who look up.

To have peace of mind during your time in air, you need reliable and safe gear that is both CE certified and continuously batch tested.

At Orbsoul, we obtain CE certification from Apave Group in France, a top organization specializing in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) testing. As the notifying body 0082 for CE certification, Apave Group certifies our gear to the highest mountaineering standards, ensuring safety and quality.

Let's dive in and learn all about CE certification, continuous batch strength testing and how they are essential for keeping you safe in the air!

CE Certification - What exactly is it?

CE, which stands for "Conformité Européenne," is a certification mark denoting conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for all products sold within Europe. In essence, CE certification signifies that the product complies with essential health and safety requirements. If a product is CE certified a "CE" symbol is affixed on the product followed by the 4 digit notifying body number.

In relation to Aerial rigging and anchoring, the CE is the only accredited and recognized certification worldwide, even though it is a European standard. There is currently no comparable North American standard for aerial arts equipment. The lack of regulation in the USA and Canada is why it is so important for all aerialists to know that untested and unsafe equipment is being sold by non-reputable vendors. Using untested, non-certified gear can be life threatening since it has not been tested and verified to withstand the dynamic loads exerted in aerial arts.

To keep you safe, let's dig deep into what tests are done to ensure quality gear as well as how to identify uncertified gear in the field.

What tests are done and how is it defined?

Aerial rigging equipment is categorized as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for fall protection and must adhere to EN standards developed collaboratively by experts across the industry. Testing for CE certification of PPE requires involvement from an approved Notifying Body. This ensures tests are done by reputable experts with proper lab equipment and provides an extra layer of assurance for product quality and user safety.

We partner with Apave Group in France, Notifying body number 0082.

EN Standards - For those who want the details!

Fire and Ice Carabiners

EN362: Governs connectors such as carabiners used in aerial arts. The carabiner must pass the following tests:

  • Various strength tests: Tensile strength, gate strength, and gate opening tests to ensure reliability and safety in preventing falls.
  • Corrosion test: All metallic elements shall not show evidence of corrosion of the base metal.
  • Marking: ‘kN’ value determined through testing with reference to the standard EN362.
  • Instructions for use provided to customers
Infinity Swivel

PPE-R/11.135: A special provision combining several standards, governs swivels used in aerial arts. The swivel must pass the following tests:

  • Tensile strength test: following applicable requirements of EN 12275:2013.
  • Corrosion test: All metallic elements shall not show evidence of corrosion of the base metal
    and swiveling shall still function after salt spray.
  • Marking: Marking: ‘kN’ value determined through testing with no reference to an EN standard.
  • Instructions for use provided to customers
Balance Eight Descender

The balance eight descender design is traditionally used in mountaineering for belaying or rappelling with a rope. Because of this, Traditional PPE standards for figure eights do not apply to the aerial arts. However, we do certify to the standard EN365 regarding marking and technical use as well as perform tensile strength testing to determine the safe load value.

orbsoul infinity swivel placed inside testing machine

Tensile Stress Testing

The most pivotal test required for all rigging gear. It is used to ensure equipment is resilient under tension and can handle high dynamic loads exerted in aerial arts.

During this test, our gear undergoes rigorous tension tests within specialized machinery until it reaches its breaking point. These results meticulously quantify the force, measured in kilonewtons (kN), that each piece can withstand, ensuring it's safe for all aerial movements including drops.

Carabiners and swivels also undergo corrosion tests that evaluate the resilience of hardware against rusting in challenging environments.

All components share a specific requirement as dictated in the standard EN365 which outlines instructions for use, maintenance, and marking.

Each piece of gear is required to have the breaking strength marked on it in kN (1 kN = 225lb) with instructions for use provided to users.

CE Declaration of Conformity

After testing is completed, a CE declaration is created, which is a document in which the manufacturer or authorized representative affirms that the product meets all relevant requirements.

This document serves as a key component of the CE marking process, providing transparency and accountability regarding the product's conformity.

Making the CE declaration easily accessible to customers enhances transparency and builds trust in the product's compliance with safety standards.

Testing once is great, but how do we ensure ongoing quality control?

Great question! This is where we at Orbsoul take things a step further.

As mentioned, tensile strength testing is the most important test in ensuring gear is strong enough to handle dynamic aerial loads such as drops.

To ensure our manufacturing process produces consistent high quality gear we tensile strength test (Break Test) every batch we make.

If you've made it this far, congratulations! You are now well versed in aerial rigging certification, testing standards and their importance in keeping aerialists safe in the air. Before you go, we want to invite you into the lab to see the strength testing of your aerial rigging hardware in action.

Step inside the lab.

Here's how your gear performed during its recent batch test.

orbsoul infinity swivel tensile test results
orbsoul infinity swivel placed inside testing machine

Infinity Swivel Tensile Strength Test

The infinity swivel is CE certified to the special provision PPE-R/11.135 which has components of EN12275:2013 tensile strength testing and EN354:2010 corrosion testing requirements. These standards ensure compliance with Mountaineering PPE requirements of performance and safety.

The infinity swivel exhibits an ultimate tensile strength of 36kN. However, we establish the swivel's strength rating at 30kN, as this aligns with its yield strength. The swivel has also passed the corrosion test meaning long lasting performance in even the most harsh environments.

orbsoul carabiner pull test results
orbsoul carabiner placed inside tensile testing machine

Screw-lock Carabiner Strength Test

Our screw-lock carabiners are CE certified to the special provision EN362:2004 which has components of tensile strength testing and corrosion testing requirements. These standards ensure compliance with Carabiner PPE requirements of performance and safety.

The Screw-lock Carabiner exhibits an ultimate tensile strength of 32kN. However, we establish the strength rating at 25kN, as this aligns with its yield strength. The carabiners also pass the corrosion test ensuring long lasting performance in even the most harsh evironments.

orbsoul figure eight descender pull test results
Orbsoul figure eight placed inside tensile testing machine

Balance 8 Descender Tensile Strength Test

The balance eight descender design is traditionally used in mountaineering for belaying or rappelling with a rope. Because of this, Traditional PPE standards for figure eights do not apply to the aerial arts. However, we do certify to the standard EN365 regarding marking and technical use as well as perform strength testing.

The Figure Eight Descender exhibits an ultimate tensile strength of 50kN.

Understanding the test and results

A tensile testing graph illustrates the relationship between the applied force (stress) and the resulting deformation (strain) of a material. Typically, it begins with a linear region where stress and strain increase proportionally, known as the elastic region.

Beyond this, the graph exhibits plastic deformation, where the material undergoes permanent changes but can still return to some extent to its original shape.

Finally, it reaches a point of ultimate tensile strength, representing the maximum force the material can withstand before breaking.

The point at which the test subject enters the plastic deformation stage is known as the yield point or yield strength. This value (measured in kN) is what your gear is rated to and is marked on each piece of hardware.

stress strain curve example