ASTM International, originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services. The organization’s headquarters is in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, about 5 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
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.
ASTM International publishes the Annual Book of ASTM Standards each year in print, CD and online versions. The online version was available by subscription and cost was based upon usage. For 2008, the complete set of books or CDs cost almost USD $9000 and included 81 volumes.
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.