UL certified steel plate

Comparing UL Certified & NIJ Certified Plates


When looking to source ballistic steel plates, have you seen “UL certified” or “NIJ certified” and wondered what it meant? Understanding the differences between UL certified plate and NIJ certified plate can seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

Let’s review the UL and NIJ certification processes, who oversees them, and the unmistakable benefits to exclusively sourcing body armor and ballistic steel that has achieved them.

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What does UL certified mean?

UL certified ballistic steel plates meet rigorous scientific safety standards set by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

With a mission to “make the world safer” and three distinct organizational arms, UL is the global safety science leader. They bring together experts from across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors all around globe, and “oversee the creation of trusted standards to guide the safe and sustainable use of new products and emerging technologies.”

UL certified steel plate

All products that earn the UL certification have undergone product safety testing outlining the highest and most current safety standards, including quality and regulatory compliance. UL conducts this testing themselves, and also authorizes manufacturers to do so. Importantly, the UL certification goes beyond body armor and ballistic grade steel. Various product types can earn it.

When it comes to manufacturing body armor and ballistic grade steel, the UL certification means that buyers can trust the level of protection they’re getting, and also limit liability exposure by using it on the most reliable and consistent materials. However, the UL certification does not signify an approval for all possible applications.

Why does it mean to be UL certified vs UL listed?

“UL listed” is a classification set underneath UL certified, and requires that the product be a stand-alone product with a specific function. If a product has earned a UL listed seal, UL tested it against their sustainability and safety standards for its associated equipment category, and it was accepted.

What does NIJ certified mean?

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice with a mission to “improve knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science.” One of their core research, development, and evaluation areas is equipment and technology. The NIJ administers a program that tests and confirms whether commercially available armor meets compliance, workmanship, and labeling standards.

These strict considerations have helped advance the comfort and maneuverability of things like “plate carrier” vests, and other types of body armor that protect vital organs.

The NIJ inspects and conducts follow-up ballistics testing over the course of a five-year period. In order to receive the NIJ’s body armor certification, manufacturers are required to:

  1. Complete program registration.
  2. Submit documentation.
  3. Send samples of the body armor models to be approved by an NIJ approved laboratory.
  4. Consent to the inspection and testing procedures.
  5. Declare a period of ballistic warranty.

What is the difference between UL certified plate and NIJ certified plate?

Steel plate that has earned the UL certification meets rigorous third-party product safety testing processes in step with the most current safety standards held by the Underwriters Laboratories. This encompasses metal quality, safety, performance, and regulatory compliance standards. Steel plate that has earned the NIJ certification satisfies the strict body armor certification procedures identified above.

One of the main differences between UL certified plate and NIJ certified plate is the organization overseeing them. Where the Underwriters Laboratories oversee the UL certification for a range of products and industries, the U.S. Department of Justice oversees the processes for compliance testing for body armor specifically.

Why is it important to use UL and NIJ certified plate in body armor?

UL certified steel plate

The sole purpose of body armor is to save lives. And there’s little gray area when it comes to the importance of safety when life is at stake. Both the UL and NIJ certified steel plate processes demonstrate a commitment to safety and provide a more trustworthy transaction for buyers.

What UL certified and NIJ certified plate does Kloeckner Metals supply?

At Kloeckner Metals we are proud to prioritize #SafetyAlways, which includes choosing only the most reliable, tried and tested supply of ballistic steel plate. We supply UL NIJ Ballistic Tested Plate in various thicknesses, widths, and lengths across our network of 40+ branches.

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Kloeckner Metals is a full-line steel supplier and service center. Kloeckner Metals combines a strong national footprint with the latest fabrication and processing technologies and the most innovative customer service solutions.

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Natalie Spira
Natalie Spira is Kloeckner's Acquisition Marketing Manager. Previously, she was the Founder and CEO of Fraction Marketing, a marketing agency providing fractional support to scaling startups with a focus on acquisition marketing and demand generation. Natalie holds a MBA from Tel Aviv University with concentrations in entrepreneurship and marketing and a BA in English from UCLA.
UL certified steel plate
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