ASTM Testing of Art Supplies

How ASTM Test Standards help to ensure consistency, safety and quality of art supplies.

Laboratory microscope, textbook and other school supplies isolated on white background

A wide variety of art supplies are a staple school supply for students around the world. However, not all pencils and pens are created equal in terms of quality, durability, and color performance. To ensure consistency and reliability, manufacturers and consumers rely on laboratory testing methods such as the ASTM D6901-15 standard.

We receive ASTM testing requests almost daily at Contract Laboratory. ASTM D6901-1 however, is specifically for testing and evaluating the quality of writing and drawing instruments. This standard outlines testing procedures to evaluate various aspects of pencil crayons, colored pens, markers and more. This standard is essential in maintaining product quality across different brands and batches. It also provides a common benchmark for evaluating these instruments objectively. Manufacturers can also use the ASTM D6901-15 guidelines to fine-tune their products before putting them up for sale.

ASTM Testing for Colored Pens and Pencils Guidelines:

1.1 ”This specification establishes requirements for composition, performance, and labeling of artists”’ colored pencils.

1.2 ”This specification covers vehicles and additives. Requirements are included for identification, lightfastness, and consistency.

1.3 ”Colored pencil specimens are exposed to both natural daylight through window glass. Simulated window glass-filtered daylight radiation to determine the lightfastness rating for each pencil.

1.4 ”The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. The values given in parentheses are for information only.

1.5 ”This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

One crucial element of this standard is color performance evaluation. Colored pencils and pens are tested for colorfastness and vibrancy over time, ensuring for example, that a child’s beautiful kindergarten art project will not fade over time. The colors remain consistent and do not fade or degrade with use, resulting in pencils and pens that offer long-lasting and vivid color output.

Durability testing is another key aspect that ASTM standard covers. Whether the pens and pencils are jostled in backpacks, dropped on tile floors, or chewed on by those in deep concentration over their teacher’s latest math problem, consumers can be confident that their pencils and pens have undergone rigorous testing to simulate real-world usage conditions, including pressure and friction tests. These tests also help manufacturers identify potential weak points in their products, before they find their way into the hands of an aspiring artist.

In conclusion, the ASTM D6901-15 standard plays a crucial role in maintaining the performance of colored pencils and pens. By following this standard, manufacturers can ensure that their products meet industry benchmarks. Users are provided with instruments that deliver vibrant colors and dependable performance. Whether you’re a budding artist or a dedicated student, quality materials will improve your confidence in your creative endeavors.

You can check out other back to school testing requests at, or read more at OUTSOURCE! Magazine!