Mr. Andrew Doornaert
Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C.
150 West Jefferson
Detroit, MI 48226
RE: The tariff classification of isobar heat pipes
Dear Mr. Doornaert:
In your letter dated September 30, 2003 on behalf of Acrolab Limited you requested a tariff classification ruling. You included descriptive literature with your request.
The isobars at issue consist of copper piping lined with a copper mesh and two copper end caps. The isobar heat pipe also contains distilled, de-ionized water. You state that the principal use by Acrolab’s customers in the United States is in molds. The isobar is inserted into the mold to linearize the temperature in the mold so that it is uniform throughout. In operation, when energy is applied at any point along the tube, the de-ionized water in the isobar is heated and quickly vaporizes. Because of internal pressures, this vapor rapidly migrates to a cooler section of the tube where it condenses and gives up its latent heat. After the vapor cools back to liquid a wicking action returns the condensate to the evaporator site and the cycle repeats. The end result is a rapid diffusion of temperature along the entire length of the isobar and the setting up of a completely isothermal condition in the mold.
In your correspondence you urge classification of the isobars either as copper tubes in heading 7411, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), or, failing that, as articles of copper in heading 7419, HTS. These headings are in Chapter 74 of the HTS. The Section Notes to Section XV of the HTS provide guidance and governance to the classification of the goods of Chapter 74, among other chapters in Section XV. Section XV, Note 1(f) excludes from classification in the section any of the articles of XVI, that is, machinery, mechanical appliances and electrical goods. Therefore, if the isobars are goods of Section XVI, they cannot be classified in the headings you urge.
Heading 8419, HTS, of Chapter 84, Section XVI contains the following language:
Machinery, plant or laboratory equipment, whether or not electrically heated, for the treatment of materials by a process involving a change of temperature such as heating, cooking, roasting, distilling, rectifying, sterilising, pasteurising, steaming, drying, evaporating, vaporising, condensing or cooling, other than machinery or plant of a kind used for domestic purposes
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“EN’s”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the EN’s provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80. The EN to heading 8419 describe the coverage of the heading in the following terms:
[T]he heading covers machinery and plant designed to submit materials (solid, liquid or gaseous) to a heating or cooling process in order to cause a simple change of temperature, or to cause a transformation of the materials resulting principally from the temperature change (e.g., heating, cooking, roasting, distilling, rectifying, sterilising, pasteurising, steaming, drying, evaporating, vaporising, condensing or cooling processes). But the heading excludes machinery and plant in which the heating or cooling, even if essential, is merely a secondary function designed to facilitate the main mechanical function of the machine or plant, e.g., machines for coating biscuits, etc., with chocolate, and conches (heading 84.38), washing machines (heading 84.50 or 84.51), machines for spreading and tamping bituminous road-surfacing materials (heading 84.79). The machinery and plant classified in this heading may or may not incorporate mechanical equipment.
The isobars fall squarely within the ambit of the language of heading 8419. While the isobars do not cause a transformation of the materials they do cause a simple change of temperature of the materials. You argue that molds are not a material within the common meaning of that term. There is no case law or other guidance on the definition of the tariff term “materials” found in the language of the heading. The term is not limited in any way and would thus cover molds within its bounds.
The applicable subheading for the isobars will be 8419.89.9580, HTS, which provides for machinery, plant or laboratory equipment, whether or not electrically heated, for the treatment of materials by a process involving a change of temperature such as heating, cooking, roasting, distilling, rectifying, sterilising, pasteurising, steaming, drying, evaporating, vaporising, condensing or cooling, other than machinery or plant of a kind used for domestic purposes …other... other … other … other …other …for rubber and plastics. The rate of duty will be 4.2 percent ad valorem.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).
A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Patrick Wholey at 646-733- 3013.
Robert B. Swierupski