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ASTM International

ASTM International (ASTM), originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services.

ASTM predates other standards organizations such as BSI (1901), DIN (1917) and AFNOR (1926), but differs from these in that it is not a national standards body, that role being taken in the USA by ANSI. However, ASTM has a dominant role among standards developers in the USA, and claims to be the world's largest developer of standards. Using a consensus process, ASTM supports thousands of volunteer technical committees, which draw their members from around the world and collectively develop and maintain more than 12,000 standards. The Annual Book of ASTM Standards consists of 77 volumes.



A group of scientists and engineers, led by Charles Benjamin Dudley formed the American Society for Testing and Materials in 1898 to address the frequent rail breaks plaguing the fast-growing railroad industry. The group developed a standard for the steel used to fabricate rails.


The standards produced by ASTM International fall into six categories:

  • the Standard Specification, that defines the requirements to be satisfied by subject of the standard.
  • the Standard Test Method, that defines the way a test is performed. The result of the test may be used to assess compliance with a Specification.
  • the Standard Practice, that defines a sequence of operations that, unlike a test, does not produce a result.
  • the Standard Guide, that provides an organized collection of information or series of options that does not recommend a specific course of action.
  • the Standard Classification, that provides an arrangement or division of materials, products, systems, or services into groups based on similar characteristics such as origin, composition, properties, or use.
  • the Terminology Standard, that provides agreed definitions of terms used in the other standards.

The quality of the standard test methods is such that they are frequently used world-wide, even in places where ASTM specifications are not used.

Membership and organization

Membership in the organization is open to anyone with an interest in its activities[1]. Standards are developed within committees, and new committees are formed as needed, upon request of interested members. Membership in most committees is voluntary and is initiated by the member's own request, not by appointment nor by invitation. Members are classified as users, producers, consumers,and "general interest". The latter include academics and consultants. Users include industry users, who may be producers in the context of other technical committees, and end-users such as consumers. In order to meet the requirements of antitrust laws, producers must constitute less than 50% of every committee or subcommittee, and votes are limited to one per producer company. Because of these restrictions, there can be a substantial waiting-list of producers seeking organizational memberships on the more popular committees. Members can, however, participate without a formal vote and their input will be fully considered.

As of 2007, more than 30,000 members, including over 1100 organizational members[2], from more than 120 countries.

  • ASTM International has 120 members in China as of 2005[3]

ASTM International is recognized by the US Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Mandatory use of voluntary standards

ASTM International has no role in requiring or enforcing compliance with its standards. The standards, however, may become mandatory when referenced by an external contract, corporation, or government.

  • In the United States, ASTM standards have been adopted, by incorporation or by reference, in many federal, state, and municipal government regulations. The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act, passed in 1995, requires the federal government to use privately developed consensus standards whenever possible. The Act reflects what had long been recommended as best practice within the federal government.
  • Other governments (local, worldwide, etc) also have referenced ASTM standards [4]
  • Corporations doing international business may choose to reference an ASTM standard.


  1. ^ Open membership in ASTM
  2. ^ ASTM Organizational Membership Directory
  3. ^ ASTM Standardization News, August 2005 Feature by Zhang Li Hon, Standards: The New Focus in China’s Exchange with the World"
  4. ^ [1]Transport Canada use of ASTM

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "ASTM_International". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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