What Are ASTM Standards?

ASTM standards, developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials International, are documents developed through a structured consensus process that establish criteria for products, services, materials and systems across 15 industries. Though compliance with ASTM standards is voluntary, individuals, companies and institutions worldwide use ASTM standards when planning, establishing regulations, and evaluating products and services. Consumers, producers, government officials and academics from over 140 countries make up the ASTM volunteer work force, serving on more than 140 standard-writing committees.

Each standard-writing committee focuses on a specific subject area such as medical record keeping, petroleum or nanotechnology. As of 2015, ASTM includes automatic guided vehicles and 3D printing among its new standard development activities. The global cement standard and standards for glass and glass products as well as building seals and sealants are among ASTM's construction standards. Standards regarding the safe use of magnetic resonance imaging and labeling of orthopedic implants are only two of more than 300 standards developed by the ASTM's committee on medical device standards.

ASTM International has more than 12,000 published standards, but does not verify that a product, process or service complies with its standards except under its specified certification programs for product and personnel certification. A business may conduct an internal ASTM standards compliance audit and publish its results without oversight from ASTM.

Membership in ASTM International is open to individuals and organizations.

ASTM is a unique partnership in that the private and public sectors collaborate openly in technical committees. Based on the feedback from the users and providers, these partners develop standards that are used and accepted worldwide.

The American Society for Testing and Materials was founded in 1898 by a team of scientists and engineers led by Charles Benjamin Dudley. Initially, the group sought to create industry-approved standards related to the steel used for railroad work.

As of 2015, ASTM International has its headquarters in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. The group also has offices in Belgium, Canada, China, Mexico and Washington, D.C.