ETIM is originally a Dutch initiative, started in 1991 by the association of electrical engineers UNETO, later taken over by the mechanical installers united in VNI. In 2002, both associations merged into UNETO-VNI.

Internationalization of the ETIM standard would be necessary to make it a real success, was soon concluded. After all, the idea was not to develop a 'paper' standard, but a standard that would really be used to exchange product data in a uniform way. There are a number of manufacturers in the Netherlands, but most headquarters are located abroad. If you want to motivate them to deliver product data according to ETIM, then ETIM will have to be known in their home country and be available in their language.

Via Sonepar (parent company of Technische Unie) ETIM was introduced in Germany in the mid-nineties, soon followed by the establishment of the ETIM Germany association in 1999. Started with a German translation of the existing Dutch ETIM version, both versions started quickly disintegrate, which of course is disastrous for a frictionless international exchange of data. It then became clear that ETIM can only be a success if all countries work with an identical version, which only differs in the translation, of course. In 2005, the Netherlands and Germany worked intensively together for months on harmonizing both versions into one identical international ETIM classification. When we succeeded, we knew that there was a chance of success for an international ETIM model; in 2006 an informal community of interest was set up to involve countries that were interested in ETIM. From that moment on it went fast and the interest was so great that 2 years later the founding of a formal international association was a logical next step.

Founded in 2008, the ETIM International based in Brussels was established to join forces in developing, managing, publishing and promoting a single European Technical Information Model (ETIM) for the classification of technical products. Where the E in ETIM officially still stands for European, the ETIM classification is already being applied in the US, Russia and Australia.

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