ASTM International is a not-for-profit organization that develops voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of products, services, and practices. ASTM is an acronym for the American Society for Testing and Materials. ASTM works to instill public trust in the integrity of ASTM standards through openness and transparency about its process for developing ASTM standards.
ASTM International is the largest technical standards organization in the world and a major player in many sectors, including construction, manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, consumer products, and electronics. It develops more than 4,100 voluntary consensus technical standards for products and services related to these sectors.
Founded in 1898 as the American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials, ASTM provides a forum for the development and publication of standards used by industry to ensure products are safe, reliable, perform as expected, and are made with the highest quality materials.
ASTM’s standards also serve as guidelines for consumers to ensure they get what they expect when buying products in today’s global marketplace. ASTM members include thousands of volunteers from more than 150 countries who possess a wide variety of expertise—from chemists and engineers to lawyers, educators, and manufacturers and of good quality. ASTM’s core mission is “to provide world-class leadership in developing and publishing voluntary consensus standards for industries around the globe.”
ASTM standards cover nearly every aspect of our daily lives, from the minutia of testing water faucets to laying down the groundwork for international trade agreements. ASTM also provides technical services and consulting to both industry and government agencies. ASTM’s members are individuals who volunteer their time as experts on ASTM standards or committee activities. ASTM members are not compensated by ASTM for their work on ASTM committees (or subcommittees), or other ASTM activities. ASTM does, however, provide a limited number of travel awards to members who have demonstrated significant contributions to ASTM and its standards. These grants seek to encourage participation in the development of ASTM standards and assist ASTM in meeting the diverse needs of ASTM members and other stakeholders. ASTM staff is limited to eight employees who oversee ASTM’s operations, including budgeting and administration.
In order for ASTM standards to be approved by ASTM, all content must go through two separate review processes. First, a Technical Committee or Subcommittee (TC) develops the proposed ASTM standard by gathering input from ASTM members. Once the TC reaches a consensus on a proposed ASTM standard, it is then presented to ASTM’s board of directors for final approval before publication. ASTMs’ rigorous review process ensures that only the highest quality standards are published; in fact, ASTM has a 98 percent compliance rate among ASTM standards users. ASTM is the most widely used standard development organization in the world; its members represent 80 percent of privately-held U.S. companies and more than 60 percent of publicly held U.S. companies, according to ASTM’s Standards Librarian, Barbara Starr, Ph.D., CQE.
ASTM standards are also used by more than 100 government agencies and international organizations around the world. ASTM is transparent about its process for developing ASTM standards, establishing that all ASTM committees must follow at least 11 resolutions in order to develop ASTM standards. These resolutions outline procedures for convening ASTM committee meetings; board of directors review of ASTM standard drafts; circulation of ASTM standards for public comment; ASTM procedures for revising ASTM standards; and ASTM’s intellectual property policy. ASTM committees are also required to follow the guidance of ASTM policies, including those that address conflicts of interest, plagiarism, use of copyrighted materials, and advance notice of ASTM committee meetings. ASTM’s intellectual property policy ensures ASTM standards are freely available to all ASTM members, and consumers through publicly available documents online. ASTM also provides free access to more than 20,000 ASTM standards on its website.