ASTM Standards | Technical Standards Explained

A Comprehensive Guide for Laboratory Scientists and Researchers

by | Jan 13, 2023

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ASTM International, originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of voluntary consensus standards. These standards are critical for ensuring quality and safety across various industries, including pharmaceuticals, materials science, construction, and more. For laboratory scientists and researchers, understanding ASTM standards is crucial for ensuring the reliability and reproducibility of their work.

What are ASTM Standards?

ASTM standards are documents that define the procedures and specifications for testing and material properties, ensuring consistency and reliability in experimental and industrial practices. These technical standards apply to a broad range of products, systems, and even services. Having established more than 12,575 standards globally, ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards organizations and dates back further than ANSI, ISO, and IEC.

History and Development of ASTM Standards

ASTM began in 1898 in response to the growing railroad industry experiencing rail breaks. Scientists and engineers together created a standard for the steel used. Today, ASTM standards help improve everyday life, enhance product performance and quality, and help consumers have confidence in products.

The development process of ASTM standards follows a rigorous, transparent, and collaborative process, which includes the following steps:

  1. Proposal: A need for a new standard or a revision to an existing standard is identified and proposed. This can be initiated by any interested party, including industry professionals, academics, or government agencies.
  2. Committee Formation: ASTM committees, composed of volunteers from diverse backgrounds, are formed to develop the standard. Each committee focuses on a specific area, such as textiles, plastics, or medical devices.
  3. Drafting: The committee drafts the standard, incorporating input from all stakeholders. This draft is then reviewed and revised through a series of meetings and discussions.
  4. Balloting: The draft standard is circulated among committee members for voting. If the draft receives a majority vote, it proceeds to the next stage. If not, it is revised and re-balloted.
  5. Approval: Once the draft standard passes the balloting process, it is reviewed by the ASTM editorial staff to ensure clarity and consistency. The standard is then approved and published.
  6. Review and Revision: ASTM standards are living documents, subject to periodic review and revision to ensure they remain current and relevant. This continuous improvement process ensures that the standards keep pace with technological advancements and industry needs.

Importance of ASTM Standards in the Laboratory

For laboratory scientists and researchers, adherence to ASTM standards is essential for several reasons:

  1. Reliability and Reproducibility: Using standardized methods ensures that experiments and tests can be reliably reproduced by other researchers, enhancing the credibility and comparability of results.
  2. Quality Assurance: ASTM standards provide a benchmark for quality, ensuring that materials and products meet specific performance criteria. This is crucial for ensuring the safety and efficacy of products, especially in regulated industries like pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
  3. Compliance and Certification: Many regulatory bodies and industry organizations require compliance with ASTM standards. Adhering to these standards can facilitate regulatory approval and certification processes, streamlining market access for new products.
  4. Innovation and Development: By providing a common framework for testing and evaluation, ASTM standards facilitate innovation and development. Researchers can build on existing standards to develop new materials and technologies, fostering scientific and industrial progress.

ASTM’s Global Impact and Membership

ASTM International boasts a membership of 30,000 technical experts and business professionals who create test methods and specifications. With more than 140 technical writing committees, ASTM covers industries like metals, oil and petroleum, construction and building, and more.

ASTM develops standards following the World Trade Organization guidelines, helping increase trade and create healthy competition. Standards become mandatory when government, contracts, or companies requiring testing necessitate them. For example, all toys sold in the U.S. must comply with ASTM F963, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, making the standard mandatory.

Key ASTM Standards for Laboratory Scientists

Several ASTM standards are particularly relevant for laboratory scientists and researchers. Some key examples include:

  • ASTM E8/E8M: Standard Test Methods for Tension Testing of Metallic Materials. This standard specifies the procedures for determining the tensile properties of metallic materials, which are critical for assessing material strength and ductility.
  • ASTM D570: Standard Test Method for Water Absorption of Plastics. This standard outlines the procedure for measuring the water absorption of plastic materials, which is important for assessing their durability and performance in various environments.
  • ASTM E105: Standard Practice for Probability Sampling of Materials. This standard provides guidelines for probability sampling techniques, which are essential for ensuring the statistical validity of experimental results.
  • ASTM C518: Standard Test Method for Steady-State Thermal Transmission Properties by Means of the Heat Flow Meter Apparatus. This standard describes the procedure for measuring the thermal conductivity of materials, which is important for evaluating their insulation properties.


ASTM standards play a crucial role in ensuring the quality, reliability, and safety of materials, products, and processes across various industries. For laboratory scientists and researchers, understanding and adhering to these standards is essential for conducting reliable and reproducible experiments, ensuring regulatory compliance, and fostering innovation. By following ASTM standards, researchers can contribute to the advancement of science and technology while ensuring that their work meets the highest standards of quality and integrity.

Laboratory Test Requests for ASTM Compliance

Contract Laboratory often receives requests from companies needing a laboratory to perform ASTM compliance testing. The following are just a few of our recent requests. View more on our website!

  • Oil Laboratory needed for ASTM hydrocarbon testing of petroleum products to ASTM D6379
  • Performance Laboratory needed for ASTM Intrinsic Clothing Insulation (CLO) Testing
  • ISO 17025 Materials Laboratory needed for ASTM Testing of biodegradable plastic bags to ASTM 6954
  • A Chemical Contract Manufacturer needed to prepare Anhydrous Tetrasodium pyrophosphate (Na4P2O7) detergent 53.0% by weight in 1 liter bottles.
  • Consumer Products Laboratory needed for testing paints to ASTM D 4236 – Labeling Art Materials for Chronic Health Hazards
  • Engineering company needs a Materials Laboratory to test liquid products to ASTM and ANSI Test Standards
  • Electrical Laboratory needed for ASTM Testing of safety protection gloves to ASTM F2675
  • ISO/IEC 17025 Performance Laboratory for gloves testing to standard: ASTM F2961 – 15

Need ASTM Testing Laboratories?

Need a laboratory for testing as per ASTM standards? We can help!  Submit an ASTM Test Request or Contact Us for more information.


  • Trevor Henderson

    Trevor Henderson BSc (HK), MSc, PhD (c), is the Creative Services Director for the Laboratory Products Group at LabX Media Group. He has more than three decades of experience in the fields of scientific and technical writing, editing, and creative content creation. With academic training in the areas of human biology, physical anthropology, and community health, he has a broad skill set of both laboratory and analytical skills. Since 2013, he has been working with LabX Media Group developing content solutions that engage and inform scientists and laboratorians.

    View all posts Director, Creative Services - LabX Media Group

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