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ASTM International: What Is It, Why It Matters, and What Are the Benefits?

Learn more about this organization and the various standards they have developed.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
May 31, 2023
 13 min read
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ASTM International, a prominent global standards development organization, has been producing voluntary consensus standards for over a century. Boasting a membership exceeding 30,000 from over 140 nations, the organization is responsible for developing technical standards, conducting technical training courses, and administering competency exams. These standards cover a wide variety of industries, including construction, textiles, medical equipment, and nuclear energy. 

This article aims to delve into the essence of ASTM International, its history, the different kinds of standards it offers, and the advantages of using its standards for different industries. Additionally, the article will expound on ASTM's contribution to global standards and its significance.

What Is ASTM International?

ASTM International is a pioneer in creating voluntary consensus standards that are adopted by people, businesses, and other organizations all around the world. Engineers and scientists from the Pennsylvania Railroad founded ASTM in 1898 under the name American Society for Testing Materials. More than 30,000 voluntary members representing more than 140 nations make up ASTM today.

The company satisfies the requirements for organizations that produce international standards as outlined by the World Trade Organization. A board of directors is chosen by the ASTM's full membership to lead and make decisions. ASTM International is also in charge of developing technical training courses and administering competence exams. The company also emphasizes continuous education and training initiatives, including classes on various commodities like coal, glass, and plastics.

What Does ASTM Stand For?

ASTM stands for American Society for Testing and Materials, a company that is responsible for developing and publishing technical standards for a wide range of industries worldwide. 

What Is the History of ASTM International Standards?

Charles Dudley and a group of scientists and engineers founded ASTM in 1898 to address the frequent rail breakage plaguing the rapidly expanding railroad sector. It all began with the development of a railway steel standard. Back in 1902, the organization was referred to as the "American Society for Testing Materials," but the name was later revised to "American Society for Testing and Materials" in 1961. In 2001, the organization's name was officially changed to "ASTM International," and the slogan "Standards Worldwide" was adopted. This slogan was further updated to "Helping Our World Work Better" in 2014.

Nowadays, ASTM International is responsible for generating and publishing technical standards aimed at enhancing performance and safety across a diverse range of products, systems, materials, and services in numerous industries. There exist thousands of ASTM standards upheld worldwide, each bearing its unique identification number. The organization currently operates offices in various regions globally, including Canada, Belgium, Peru, China, and Washington, D.C.

What Are the Different Examples of the Standards That ASTM Have Developed?

Each ASTM standard has a distinct number, and they typically fall into various categories, including:

  1. Standard Practice Guide
  2. Terminology Standard
  3. Standard Test Method
  4. Standard Specification
  5. Standard Classification

ASTM International releases an Annual Book of ASTM Standards. The technical standards in this book cover a range of goods, markets, and services, including but not restricted to:

  1. Adhesives
  2. Nonferrous metals
  3. Rubber
  4. Plastics
  5. Insulation for electrical systems and electronics
  6. Textiles
  7. Construction
  8. Iron and steel
  9. Nuclear energy
  10. Medical equipment

The ASTM standards are split into various volumes due to their extensive scope. The standards included in the Annual Book are written and prepared by 143 committees in total. These rules were created in accordance with the recommendations and directives offered by the World Trade Organization.

Some examples of the standards developed by ASTM include:

  1. ASTM A36 - Standard Specification for Carbon Structural Steel
  2. ASTM D4236 - Standard Practice for Labeling Art Materials for Chronic Health Hazards
  3. ASTM E84 - Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials
  4. ASTM C150 - Standard Specification for Portland Cement
  5. ASTM D2240 - Standard Test Method for Rubber Property - Durometer Hardness
  6. ASTM D642 - Standard Test Method for Determining Compressive Resistance of Shipping Containers, Components, and Unit Loads

Why Do the ASTM International Standards Matter?

Architects, scientists, engineers, and government organizations use ASTM safety standards to guarantee the reliability and consistency of materials. Although these criteria are optional, they must be cited by authorities when they are used in agreements, rules, regulations, or codes of the government.

The material, mechanical, chemical, and metallurgical properties of metals must be assessed using ASTM standards. The product producers can use this information to help them choose the right application and processing techniques. The ASTM website allows institutions and individuals to look for more than 12,000 standards in a wide range of industries.

What Are the Benefits of Using ASTM International Standards for Industries?

There are several benefits of using ASTM International standards for different industries, including:

  1. Consistency and Quality: ASTM standards provide a uniform framework for testing and evaluation, which ensures consistency and quality in the products, materials, and services that comply with these standards. This helps to establish a level of confidence in the reliability of the tested products.
  2. Increased Safety: ASTM standards often include safety requirements and guidelines that help to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries in various industries. This ensures that products and materials are designed and manufactured with safety in mind.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Compliance with ASTM standards can lead to cost savings for businesses and industries as it helps in reducing defects, rework, and product recalls. This leads to improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the manufacturing process.
  4. Competitive Advantage: Compliance with ASTM standards can give a competitive advantage to businesses by demonstrating their commitment to quality, safety, and reliability. Customers and stakeholders can trust the quality of products and services that meet ASTM standards.
  5. Global Recognition: ASTM standards are globally recognized and accepted, which facilitates international trade and promotes a level playing field for businesses in different countries.

What Is the Role of ASTM in Global Standards?

The role of ASTM International in global standards is significant. It is one of the largest and most respected standards development organizations in the world. ASTM standards are widely recognized and accepted, and they serve as a benchmark for quality, safety, and reliability across a wide range of industries and applications.

Here are some ways that ASTM contributes to global standards:

  1. Developing Standards: ASTM develops and publishes standards that cover a wide range of industries and applications. These standards are based on consensus among industry experts, and they represent a globally recognized benchmark for quality, safety, and reliability.
  2. Harmonizing Standards: ASTM works with other standards organizations around the world to harmonize standards and minimize trade barriers. This helps facilitate international trade and promote fair competition for businesses in different countries.
  3. Providing Training and Education: ASTM offers training and educational programs to help individuals and organizations understand and implement ASTM standards. This helps promote best practices and ensure consistent application of standards across different industries and regions.
  4. Advocating for Standards: ASTM advocates for the use of standards in various industries and applications, highlighting their importance in promoting safety, quality, and efficiency. This helps raise awareness about the benefits of using standards and promotes their widespread adoption.

What Is the Role of ASTM in the Engineering Industry?

ASTM's role in the engineering industry is to develop and maintain a set of standards that promote safety, quality, and reliability across different products and applications. ASTM standards cover a wide range of materials, from metals and plastics to textiles and ceramics, and provide specifications for testing methods, performance criteria, and other requirements that products and materials must meet. Overall, these standards help to ensure that products can be used with confidence in various engineering applications.

How Many International Standards Does ASTM Published?

Currently, over 12,800 ASTM standards operate worldwide. These standards cover a wide range of products, services, and materials in most industries. 

How Does ASTM Update the Standards?

ASTM updates standards regularly and publishes the approved and updated standards in the Annual Book of Industry Standards. ASTM International accepts requests for new standards from any interested party. An ASTM technical committee creates a draft of the standard which is then sent to a parent subcommittee and made available to all members for evaluation.

How Does ASTM Do the Impact Testing?

The ASTM impact testing procedure, specifically the Charpy impact test, involves preparing a rectangular-shaped sample from the material being tested with a notch in the center. The relevant ASTM standard determines the sample dimensions and notch specifications. The sample is then placed in a fixture that holds it securely in place. The test apparatus consists of a pendulum that is raised to a specific height and released to strike the sample at the notch. The impact of the pendulum causes the sample to break, and a device connected to the pendulum measures the energy absorbed by the sample during the impact. The test results are used to calculate the impact strength of the material in units of joules or foot-pounds, as specified by the relevant ASTM standard. The procedure may vary depending on the material and the specific testing requirements, and there are other ASTM standards available for different types of impact testing.

Some of the most widely used ASTM standards for impact testing include:

  1. ASTM E23: Standard Test Methods for Notched Bar Impact Testing of Metallic Materials
  2. ASTM D6110: Standard Test Method for Determining the Charpy Impact Resistance of Notched Specimens of Plastics
  3. ASTM D256: Standard Test Methods for Determining the Izod Pendulum Impact Resistance of Plastics

How Does ASTM Do Tensile Strength?

ASTM D638 is performed by applying a tensile force to a material. It then measures the various properties of the material under stress. The procedure is conducted on a tensile testing machine or universal testing machine at increasing tensile rates until the specimen breaks or yields.

What Test Do ASTM Perform for Metals?

ASTM International provides a wide range of tests for metals to evaluate their mechanical properties, physical properties, and other characteristics. Some of the most commonly used ASTM tests for metals are:

  1. Tensile Testing: ASTM E8/E8M, Standard Test Methods for Tension Testing of Metallic Materials, measures the strength and ductility of metal by applying a tensile force to a sample until it breaks.
  2. Hardness Testing: ASTM E18, the Standard Test Method for Rockwell Hardness of Metallic Materials; ASTM E10, the Standard Test Method for Brinell Hardness of Metallic Materials; and ASTM E384, the Standard Test Method for Microindentation Hardness of Materials, are commonly used to measure the resistance of a metal to deformation.
  3. Impact Testing: ASTM E23, Standard Test Methods for Notched Bar Impact Testing of Metallic Materials, measures the energy absorbed by metal when struck with a pendulum.
  4. Fatigue Testing: ASTM E466, Standard Practice for Conducting Force Controlled Constant Amplitude Axial Fatigue Tests of Metallic Materials, evaluates the fatigue strength of metal under repeated loading.
  5. Bend Testing: ASTM E290, Standard Test Methods for Bend Testing of Material for Ductility, evaluates the ductility of metal by bending a sample around a specified radius.
  6. Fracture Toughness Testing: ASTM E1820, the Standard Test Method for Measurement of Fracture Toughness, evaluates the ability of a metal to resist crack propagation and is commonly used in the aerospace industry.

These are just a few examples of the many ASTM tests available for metals. The specific test used depends on the characteristics of the metal being evaluated and the properties of interest.

What Does ASTM A193 Mean?

The ASTM A193 covers bolting made of alloy and stainless steel for valves, flanges, pressure vessels, and fittings used in high-pressure or high-temperature service, as well as other specialized applications. The ASTM A193 specification covers bars, bolts, stud bolts, screws, studs, and wire.

What Does ASTM 304 Mean?

ASTM 304 refers to a specific grade of stainless steel that is widely used in various industries, including food processing, chemical processing, and construction. Stainless steel of type 304 is the most adaptable and popular. As a result of type 304's nominal composition of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, it is still occasionally called by its previous name, 18/8.

What Does ASTM A182 Mean?

The ASTM A182 is a set of guidelines that define the requirements for the manufacture of forged or rolled stainless steel and alloy materials. These are used in the production of pipe flanges, valves, fasteners, forged fittings, and parts intended for high-temperature service applications.

What Does ASTM D790 Mean?

The ASTM D790 test procedure is used to evaluate the flexural (bending) characteristics of electrical insulating materials, high-modulus composites, and reinforced and unreinforced plastics.

What Does ASTM C40 Mean?

ASTM C40 is a test method for organic impurities in fine aggregates for concrete using a color-indicating reagent. The test method is used to determine the presence of detrimental organic compounds in fine aggregates used in Portland cement concrete. The organic impurities, which are typically derived from decaying plant or animal matter, can interfere with the setting and hardening of the cement and reduce the strength and durability of the resulting concrete. The ASTM C40 test method provides a simple and effective means of detecting the presence of organic impurities in fine aggregates, helping to ensure the quality and performance of concrete.

Is ASTM Known Worldwide?

Yes, ASTM is known worldwide as one of the largest and most respected standards development organizations in the world. ASTM has a global reach, with over 30,000 members from more than 140 countries around the world. ASTM standards are recognized and accepted internationally and are used as a benchmark for quality, safety, and reliability in various industries and applications.

Is ASTM the Standard for Manufacturing Steels?

Yes, ASTM International is one of the leading standards development organizations for the manufacturing and testing of steel. ASTM has developed a large number of standards that cover different aspects of steel production, processing, and testing. These standards cover a wide range of topics, including chemical composition, mechanical properties, heat treatment, and microstructure. Some of the popular ASTM standards for manufacturing steels include:

  1. ASTM A572: Standard specification for high-strength low-alloy columbium-vanadium structural steel.
  2. ASTM A500: Standard specification for cold-formed seamless and welded carbon steel structural tubing in shapes and rounds.
  3. ASTM A106: Standard specification for seamless carbon steel pipe for high-temperature service.
  4. ASTM A53: Standard specification for pipe, black and hot-dipped, steel, zinc-coated, seamless, and welded.
  5. ASTM A36: Standard specification for carbon structural steel.

Are ASTM Standards Only for Metal Materials?

No, ASTM standards are not only for metal materials. ASTM International develops and publishes standards that cover a wide range of products, materials, and services used in various industries and applications. While ASTM has developed many standards for metal materials, it also develops standards for other materials, such as plastics, ceramics, composites, and textiles. Additionally, ASTM has developed standards for a wide range of industries, including construction, energy, transportation, and healthcare.


This article presented ASTM International, explained who they are, and discussed their history and the various standards they have developed. To learn more about ASTM International, contact a Xometry representative.

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Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.

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