Safety Testing Ori Products: What Is UL and Why Does It Matter?

- Behind the Scenes

Pick up any type of home appliance in the US and you’re likely to see a small circle containing the letters “U” and “L”. It’s a ubiquitous little symbol that most people ignore, but it indicates something important—that the product you’re about to use has been tested and assessed to be safe by a third party authority.

Underwriters Laboratories (or “UL”) is one of a select number of Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) that the federal government recognizes to perform certification for certain products to ensure that they meet established safety requirements. Founded in 1894 by a young electrical engineer named William Henry Merrill who saw the need for standardized safety testing in the growing field of electronics, UL created standards and tests for product safety, giving tested products a “stamp of approval” with the UL logo. UL has become one of the most trusted authorities on product safety.

Today, UL tests and certifies the safety of a wide range of consumer products—everything from hair dryers to the Ori Cloud Bed.

What is UL Testing?

UL testing is a process new products can go through in order to receive UL’s certification, establishing that the tested product conforms to stringent safety requirements. Essentially, it means you can be assured that a product—with proper use and in normal circumstances—won’t start fires, tip over, break, or otherwise cause bodily harm.

Much like crash testing for cars, the certification process requires that products be pushed to their limits, well beyond what they might encounter in typical daily use, and still not break or cause harm. Weights are loaded onto shelves, high voltage electrical current is pulsed through wires and circuit boards, systems are pushed and pulled every which way, all to ensure that they will be safe in the real world.

Since UL tests a wide range of products, different types of certifications are available to match the type of product being certified.

Why Do We Take Ori Products Through UL Testing?

One of the things we’re most proud of at Ori is that every single one of our products is UL-certified. It’s not an easy task, nor is it required. But we make achieving UL-certification a vital part of our product development process because our products are installed in apartments, condos and other homes where there are children and pets and other precious objects. All of Ori’s products can move and transform—even autonomously—and we want to make sure residents living with Ori products not only love the experience, but that our products will be safe.

When certifying Ori products, a representative from UL comes to our Boston laboratory (or watches via video call during COVID-19 travel restrictions) to observe and supervise various tests and certify the results.

“Getting ready for testing day is, of course, very important,” says Ivan Fernandez de Casadevante, co-founder and head of product at Ori. “Before presenting the product in front of UL, we run hundreds of internal tests to make sure the product is ready for the big show. It’s an important milestone in our product development process.”

Here’s a few of the tests performed on Ori products:

  • Power Surge Test - An electrical current that exceeds the working amount under typical conditions is run through the product for a period of time. All integrated electrical components must withstand this added current.
  • Structural Test - Weights representing four times the rated or recommended working load of each shelf (what it can be expected to hold during normal use) are loaded on a shelf or other surface for an extended period of time. The shelf/surface must not break during this time.
  • Stability Test - The bottom of the system is locked in place and the top of the system is pulled in one direction. The system must not tip over in order to pass this test.
  • Entrapment Test - The amount of force required to stop the system from moving is measured using a force gauge. The amount of force must not exceed specified thresholds.

Passing the UL Test

Upon successful completion of these tests, UL officially certifies a product, and the company is able to display the UL badge on that product to signify it’s compliance. Ori products in particular are UL-962 approved and listed, which includes safety testing related to flammability, stability, materials, and other situations for products used in households.

“Getting UL certified is not a requirement for our products, but it’s something that we feel is vital to our product development,” says founder & CEO Hasier Larrea. “We take the safety of Ori products very seriously, and passing the high standards set by UL helps ensure that every Ori product that gets installed in someone’s home will be safe for everyday use.”

With safety certification complete, the product is ready for production and installation. Within just a few weeks, they’ll start being shipped out to new real estate developments all over the country—ready to create space for residents and help them live large, even in a small footprint.

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