RAL nomenclature

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RAL nomenclature

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RAL nomenclature
Kennzeichnungsregeln alt - neu Füllgutkennzeichnung DIN EN 12934 RAL-Bezeichnungen

Which are the most important differences between the old RAL 092 A2-regulations, that are not in force any more, and the new standard DIN EN 12934?

The most important and the most obvious difference is related to the information on the filling’s massshares of down and feathers which are specified in per cent. The percentage of down plays an important role in this: the higher the down content, the higher the filling power and the thermal retention of the product with – at the same time – a lower weight.
 
The down and feather shares are not indicated anymore by a narrative text, at least not without the obligatory composition labelling expressed in percentages.
The most important and the most obvious difference is related to the information on the filling’s massshares of down and feathers which are specified in per cent. The percentage of down plays an important role in this: the higher the down content, the higher the filling power and the thermal retention of the product with – at the same time – a lower weight.
 
The down and feather shares are not indicated anymore by a narrative text, at least not without the obligatory composition labelling expressed in percentages. Instead, the filling’s content will be displayed in the form of percentages of weight.
 
Thus, the half-down according to the old German RAL will now be marked as 85 % feathers, 15 % down.
Three-quarter down will be labelled 70 % feathers, 30 % down.
 
What else is new: the term “new class I“ replaces the term “feathers which have not previously been used“ (in Germany the term “original” had been used so far) and the fillings have been grouped in different classes.
 
Kennzeichnungsregeln alt - neu Füllgutkennzeichnung DIN EN 12934 RAL-Bezeichnungen

Have the half-down and quarter-down fillings been abolished because of the new standard?

No, they have not been abolished; their names have just been changed. The new standard is a labelling standard – it only specifies how to label the details of the composition. Therefore, it is only the terms, which have been changed.
 
The content of down and feathers will now be expressed in the form of an accurate percentage by weight.

For example:
No, they have not been abolished; their names have just been changed. The new standard is a labelling standard – it only specifies how to label the details of the composition. Therefore, it is only the terms, which have been changed.
 
The content of down and feathers will now be expressed in the form of an accurate percentage by weight.

For example:
The half-down is labelled like this: 85 % feathers, 15 % down.
The three-quarter down is indicated as:

70 % feathers, 30 % down.

Further information at:

RAL-Bezeichnungen

May the terms defined in the RAL such as “feathers which have not previously been used“, “half-down“ and so on still be used?

No, they must not. The regulations of the RAL 092 A2, which was in force in Germany between 1932 and 2004, and which provided the definition of these terms, was repealed with effect from December, 31st 2004. The suppliers of bedding are not allowed use these regulations anymore since January 1st 2005, neither for labelling nor for purposes of advertising.
 
 
No, they must not. The regulations of the RAL 092 A2, which was in force in Germany between 1932 and 2004, and which provided the definition of these terms, was repealed with effect from December, 31st 2004. The suppliers of bedding are not allowed use these regulations anymore since January 1st 2005, neither for labelling nor for purposes of advertising.
 
 
RAL-Bezeichnungen

Can I continue to use products, which are still labelled with terms such as “half-down“?

Of course, you can! The new European standard DIN EN 12934, which replaces the old RAL regulations, is about a new form of labelling, that means about the way, in which the fillings contained in bedding articles are indicated. The standard aims at providing consumers with clear and unambiguous information when they purchase a bedding article.
 
Whether a filling is described (according to the RAL regulations) as
„White goose half-down which have not previously been used“
Of course, you can! The new European standard DIN EN 12934, which replaces the old RAL regulations, is about a new form of labelling, that means about the way, in which the fillings contained in bedding articles are indicated. The standard aims at providing consumers with clear and unambiguous information when they purchase a bedding article.
 
Whether a filling is described (according to the RAL regulations) as
„White goose half-down which have not previously been used“
 
or (in accordance with EN 12934) as
„White new goose feathers and -down class I 85 % feathers, 15 % down“
does not make any difference for the filling itself: both labels describe the same filling.
 
RAL-Bezeichnungen

Where do terms as unclear as “half-down“ originate from?

The term "half-down" dates back very far into the 19th century. The entire plumage from a goose or duck (feathers, down and quill feathers) was collected and then washed and dried by hand. After this, the quill feathers – which are not suitable for bedding articles – were removed. What remained was the so called "half-down", a blend of feathers which usually contained between 15 and 20 per cent down. Therefore, the term was not at all used to describe a mixture containing "one half down and one half feathers", but it was applied for a blend made "partly of feathers, partly of down".
The term "half-down" dates back very far into the 19th century. The entire plumage from a goose or duck (feathers, down and quill feathers) was collected and then washed and dried by hand. After this, the quill feathers – which are not suitable for bedding articles – were removed. What remained was the so called "half-down", a blend of feathers which usually contained between 15 and 20 per cent down. Therefore, the term was not at all used to describe a mixture containing "one half down and one half feathers", but it was applied for a blend made "partly of feathers, partly of down". When this blend was further separated, again by hand, one obtained "feathers" and "down". To characterise a filling’s content, these were the only terms used: "feathers", "down" and "half-down".
 
At the time when the first RAL regulations were laid down in 1932, those were the definitions which were drawn upon. Later on, the processing of feathers, including the sorting, was more and more mechanized and refined. Thus, in 1963 new terms were introduced: that of “feathery down” as well as that of “feathers which have not previously been used” for new feathers. Nine years later, in 1972 the terms “three-quarter down“ (containing 30 per cent down) and “downy feathers” (containing 9 per cent down) were added – and became the regulations commonly known as the RAL 092 A2.
 
The regulations of the RAL made sense as long as the distributors kept showcases in their salesrooms, where the customers could see the different blends of down and feathers. In that way, it became immediately obvious, that half-down did not contain “one half of down and one half of feathers“, and the customer had to simply choose the blend which corresponded to his individual needs. Thereafter the mixture was filled into the ticking.
 
With the passing of time, however, the number of finished bedding articles has increased. This meant that consumers would purchase a finished product in self-service stores and that they would not be able to closely look at the fillings anymore. In this situation, labels such as “half-down” or “three-quarter down“ would in most cases lead to misunderstandings. It was hard to understand for consumers, that a half-down filling had to contain only 15 per cent of down at least – the terms used in the RAL regulations were not plausible anymore.
 
Similarly, consumers would not find it understandable, that new feathers were not labelled as “new” but as “feathers which have not previously been used”. When this term was missing, the product could technically contain up to 30 per cent of reprocessed feathers. In order to clearly indicate new feathers at that time, the phrase “This brand guarantees new merchandise” was added on the feather label “Product of Nature“.
 
The percentages regarding the down content as defined in the RAL 092 A2 always referred to the weighted parameters. It was, however, the preamble of the 1970 version of the RAL 092 A2 which has in large part added to a continuing misconception. In this text it was argued, that the term “half-down“ could be derived from the filling material’s volume. If the volumes of the two components were measured, then the 15 per cent by weight accounted for by the down would have the same volume as the 85 per cent by weight of the feathers – for down weigh less than feathers. This line of reasoning was to justify why half-down are not made of 50 per cent of down, but only of 15 per cent.
 
However, this approach was never proven conclusively. If 15 per cent of down accounted for 50 per cent of the volume, the down in a three-quarter down filling would have to make up 100 per cent of the volume (as a three-quarter down filling contains 30 per cent of down by weight). This would be absurd because a three-quarter down filling still contains a remaining 70 per cent of feathers and their respective volume would exceed the given amount of space.
 
Kennzeichnungsregeln alt - neu RAL-Bezeichnungen

Why do we need a new standard? Why do you always have to change everything?

There were essentially three good reasons for the formulation of a new standard:
  • The differing labelling systems in Europe
  • The advent of the Single European Market
  • The potential for misconceptions resulting from the old RAL regulations
There were essentially three good reasons for the formulation of a new standard:
  • The differing labelling systems in Europe
  • The advent of the Single European Market
  • The potential for misconceptions resulting from the old RAL regulations

The differing labelling systems in Europe
The RAL regulations were fiercely criticized for the terms concerning the composition labelling they contained, as these terms again and again led to misunderstandings. Germany’s European neighbour countries gradually dispensed with the RAL 092 A2 and developed their own labelling systems. They often included the consumer organisations and representatives of trade in the process.
Thus, in Europe evolved differing regulations for the labelling of down and feathers which were used as filling materials. Their multitude made it difficult to compare the European products with each other and was therefore not consumer-friendly.
 
The confusing co-existence of the different labelling systems in Europe was finally laid to rest by the European standard EN 12934.
 
The potential misconceptions resulting form the old RAL regulations
The correct and understandable declaration of the materials contained in a filling is so important, because the down content of i.e. a duvet is one of the fundamental criteria for judging the product. In this case applies the formula: the higher the down content, the lower the filling weight and the higher its thermal insulation. If the down content is high, the duvet is usually of higher quality and more expensive than a duvet with a lower down content.
In this field consumers depend to a particularly high degree on coherent labelling.
The regulations concerning quality and labelling contained in the RAL 092 A2 version from 1932 have repeatedly undergone small amendments. The RAL definitions are based on the assumption that sales people present the different blends of down and feathers in showcases on site. In that situation it was easy to explain to every single customer the different notions, such as i.e. half-down, which did not contain 50 per cent down and 50 per cent feathers. Only then, the pillows and/or duvets were filled with the blend of down and feathers that the customer had chosen.
Until the beginning of the 1950s around 90 per cent of the down- and feather-filled bedding articles were sold by those specialty stores, where the tickings were filled according to the customers’ wishes. Since that time, their percentage has been in constant decline. Nowadays it is assessed to amount to about 25 per cent (according to estimates by the VDFI e. V., the German Down and Feather Association from 2005). Furthermore, even the specialized dealers do more and more without the on-site filling of bedding articles and rely increasingly upon finished products.
 
In the present situation, however, where the finished bedding articles are being sold and where there is no possibility for the customers to take a look at the different blends of feathers, the regulations of the old RAL 092 A2 proved to be unclear and confusing. Customers expected half-down to contain a proportion of weight of 50 per cent down and 50 per cent feathers, whereas the half-down filling was actually made of 15 per cent down and 85 per cent feathers, instead. Similarly, only very few consumers would associate the German term “original” with not previously used, new feathers.
 
The structure of the RAL was too unilaterally based on the obsolete assumption that the fillings were presented in open showcases. The current situation is, however, different and the structure of the RAL regulations made their adjustment to the needs of this changed situation impossible.
 

The differing labelling systems within Europe and the lack of comprehensibility of the old RAL concepts were the main reasons why a completely new labelling standard had to be formulated. The common efforts of the European countries resulted in the creation of the standard EN 12934.

Further information at :