Reliability of the tension test for toys
Toys are one of the most complex and risky products to import and to sell. The tension test for toys is part of the EN 71 regulation amid other mechanical and physical tests to perform in order to protect children from any situation that could put their life in danger or seriously injure them. Tension test is one of the most commonly performed test during a product inspection and at a laboratory. How reliable are those tests? Is one better than the other?
Ensure childern products’ safety with the tension test
The tension test checks that the components of the toy, that can be gripped, are strong enough to endure regular use by a child without breaking. The objective is to create tension reflecting that of child holding it for few seconds. In cases where some parts are separated and/or sewed on the main body of the toy, those parts are distorted and pulled out, at the same time. This is done to simulate extreme conditions and to test the resistance of the seams.
Here is a great video showing how to perform the test. The usual standard followed for this test is the EN71-1:2014, which tests for toys can be performed during an inspection and in a laboratory.
When can be performed a tension test for toys
Tension test during an inspection
The tension gauge used during a toys inspection is the one available at the factory. The quality control inspector relies on the factory tool and can’t confirm whether or not it has been well calibrated. He can only check the tool’s last calibration date on the label stacked on the tool available for that purpose. The sample size should be S-1 and the standard test procedure for the tension test should be as follows (by the QC):
- Affix a suitable clamp behind the component while taking care not to damage the attachment mechanism or the body of the toy.
- Fasten the toy in the test apparatus and apply a tensile force to the component by means of a clamp or by other means. The force applied varies (50 ± 2) N when the largest accessible dimension is 6 mm or less; or (90 ± 2) N when the largest accessible dimension is greater than 6 mm. The force should be applied gradually within a period of 5 seconds, then maintained for 10 seconds. After this test, the component should stay well attached to the main body otherwise the test is failed.
Tension test at a laboratory
At a laboratory the test is performed on a sample with calibrated tension gauge in a controlled environment. For a reliable result, it is highly recommended one collaborate with familiar bodies known in the country of destination of the goods. It will serve as a guarantee in the event goods are held at the customs to demonstrate the importer’s good will.
In both cases, during an inspection or in a laboratory, the tension test method followed is based on the EN 71 part 1 regulation, test method 8.4. The toy inspection tension test is for reference only. The laboratory testing is compulsory.
And you: when do you perform the tension test for toys?
Photo taken during a toy plush pre-shipment inspection.