The chemical industry is one of the largest and most complex industries in the world. With a vast range of materials, applications and products – from plastics and polymers to adhesives and coatings – the chemical industry encompasses almost every aspect of modern life. And with such diversity, this complex industry hosts many challenges. After all, ensuring the safety, quality and reliability of materials, spanning an entire industry is no easy feat.
Here’s where ASTM International step in. As a globally recognised organisation, ASTM International both develops and publishes technical standards for the plethora of materials, products and services that make up the chemical industry. From ASTM D7183 to E1527-21, there are over 12,800 ASTM Standards operating globally right now. These standards are used to ensure the safety, quality and reliability of materials and products. Helping to facilitate trade between different countries and regions, and keeping companies accountable when it comes to chemical creation and supply.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you through the whats and whys of ASTM standards. Including why they are used in the chemical industry and why they are so important.
What are ASTM Standards?
ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is a global standards development organisation with over 30,000 members from 140 countries. These members include industry experts, government agencies, and academics. Working together to develop standards via a consensus-based process that utilises the expertise of all members and stakeholders. Ensuring a universal system that can hold the entire industry accountable when it comes to manufacturing and supplying chemicals.
ASTM standards cover a wide range of industries, including construction, manufacturing, and the chemical industry. And these standards are designed to establish performance criteria and testing procedures for materials, products, systems, and services. ASTM standards help manufacturers to ensure the quality, safety, and reliability of their products and services, while also providing regulators with a framework for establishing compliance and enforcing regulations.
ASTM standards are not limited to testing methods. They also cover product specifications, safety guidelines, and other technical information. Providing a universal language for communicating technical information across different industries, and ensuring that all stakeholders understand the requirements and expectations from their goods and services.
These standards are developed based on scientific research and technical knowledge, ensuring that they are accurate, reliable, and reproducible. And are continuously updated to reflect the latest advances in technology and knowledge. ASTM standards are widely recognised and used around the world to provide a level playing field for manufacturers and ensure that consumers can trust the products they purchase.
Why are ASTM Standards Used in the Chemical Industry?
The use of ASTM standards in the chemical industry is critical for ensuring the safety of workers, consumers and the environment. Chemicals are often hazardous, and their use can have severe consequences if not adequately controlled. That’s why ASTM standards are developed to provide a consistent framework for testing and assessing the safety, quality, and performance of chemicals and chemical products. They also ensure that these products comply with regulations, minimising the risks associated with their use.
ASTM standards provide the chemical industry with a common language and framework. Manufacturers, regulators and customers get to communicate with global standards, ensuring consistency in practices across different countries and regions. This is especially important in the global marketplace, where chemicals and chemical products are often traded across borders. ASTM standards provide a basis for harmonisation and mutual recognition of testing and certification, making it easier for manufacturers to enter new markets and sell their products globally.
The use of ASTM standards is not only essential for safety and regulatory compliance but also for driving innovation and improvement in the chemical industry. By establishing performance standards, ASTM standards encourage manufacturers to develop new and better products that meet the changing needs of their customers. They also provide a platform for collaboration and knowledge-sharing among industry players, leading to new technologies, processes, and best practices that enhance the overall quality and performance of the chemical industry.
In addition, adhering to ASTM standards can improve a company's reputation and brand value. By following these standards, manufacturers can demonstrate their commitment to safety, quality, and environmental responsibility. This can help build customer trust and loyalty, as well as attract new customers who value these attributes. Moreover, complying with ASTM standards can also help companies avoid legal and financial risks associated with non-compliance, which can have a significant impact on their reputation and bottom line.
So, ASTM standards play a critical role in the chemical industry by ensuring safety, quality, and compliance, driving innovation and improvement, and enhancing reputation and brand value. They provide a universal framework for testing and assessing materials and products, establishing performance standards, and promoting harmonisation and mutual recognition of testing and certification across different countries and regions. It is essential for manufacturers, regulators, and customers in the chemical industry to adhere to ASTM standards to ensure the continued growth and success of the industry.
Types of ASTM Testing Methods
Now we know what ASTM testing methods are and why they are used within the chemical industry, we’ll walk you through the different kinds of testing methods that are used in the modern manufacturing space. These testing methods are designed to be accurate, reproducible and reliable. And are used by a wide range of individuals like manufacturers, regulatory agencies and testing laboratories around the world. These different types of testing methods include physical, chemical, environmental and performance testing methods. So, let’s break them down.
Physical Testing Methods:
ASTM physical testing methods are widely used to measure various physical properties of materials and products. These methods are designed to measure properties such as tensile strength, elasticity, compressive strength, and hardness. They are used in the development and testing of new materials and products, as well as in quality control and regulatory compliance.
For instance, ASTM D638 is a commonly used standard for measuring the tensile properties of plastics. Similarly, ASTM D2240 is a standard test method for determining the durometer hardness of plastics, elastomers, and other rubber-like materials, while ASTM D790 is used to determine the flexural properties of plastics and other materials. Physical testing methods are essential for ensuring that materials and products meet the necessary physical requirements and can perform their intended function.
Chemical Testing Methods:
Similarly to physical testing methods, ASTM chemical testing methods are used to analyse the chemical composition and properties of materials, such as polymers, metals, and ceramics. These methods are commonly used in the development and testing of new materials, as well as in the characterisation and analysis of existing materials. And are essential for ensuring that materials meet the necessary chemical requirements and can perform their intended function.
This is especially important for the chemical industry as it ensures that all chemical manufacturers are keeping to the same chemical standards. This means that when chemicals are then supplied to other companies who will use these chemicals, they will always be getting exactly what they need. Preventing accidental ingredient changes further down the line.
Environmental Testing Methods:
ASTM environmental testing methods are used to evaluate the performance of materials and products under different environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, and UV exposure. These methods are commonly used in the testing and development of coatings, adhesives, and other materials. They help manufacturers evaluate the durability and stability of materials and products under various environmental conditions.
For instance, ASTM G154 is a standard method for operating fluorescent ultraviolet (UV) lamp apparatus for exposure to non-metallic materials. Similarly, ASTM B117 is a standard method for operating salt spray (fog) apparatus for testing the resistance of metallic materials to corrosion. These environmental testing methods are essential for ensuring that materials and products can withstand different environmental conditions and maintain their performance over time.
Performance Testing Methods:
ASTM performance testing methods are used to evaluate the performance of materials and products under real-world conditions, such as wear and tear, impact resistance, and chemical resistance. They are commonly used in the testing and development of products such as coatings, adhesives, and composites. And they help manufacturers to evaluate the performance and durability of products in real-world conditions.
For instance, ASTM D4060 is a standard test method for abrasion resistance of organic coatings by the Taber Abraser, which is a precision-built instrument that was developed to perform accelerated wear testing. Similarly, ASTM D638 is a standard test method for determining the flexural properties of plastics and other materials. And ASTM D256 is used to determine the impact resistance. These performance testing methods are essential for ensuring that products can perform their intended function in real-world conditions and meet the necessary performance requirements.
Overall, ASTM testing methods are essential in the chemical industry, and they help ensure that materials and products meet the necessary physical, chemical, environmental, and performance requirements. By using ASTM standards, manufacturers can produce products that are safe, reliable, and comply with applicable regulations. ASTM testing methods are used by regulatory agencies and testing laboratories worldwide, and they are designed to be accurate, reproducible, and reliable.
Why are ASTM Standards so important?
There are many reasons why ASTM standards are so important to be used within the chemical industry. First and foremost, they provide a common language and a standard framework for testing and assessing materials and products. Allowing manufacturers, regulators, and consumers to communicate effectively and make informed decisions based on reliable and consistent data.
As stated previously, safety is another important aspect of ASTM standards in the chemical industry. Chemicals and chemical products can be hazardous to human health and the environment, and standards help to ensure that these materials are handled, stored, and used safely. ASTM standards establish safety protocols for handling, transportation, storage, and disposal of chemicals, as well as providing guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety measures.
Transparency and consistency
ASTM standards are important in the chemical industry because they promote transparency and consistency. By using standard testing methods and criteria, manufacturers can provide consistent and reliable data to regulators and customers, which can help to build trust and credibility. This is especially important in industries such as the chemical industry, where products can have serious consequences for human health and the environment.
ASTM standards also play a critical role in ensuring environmental responsibility. Chemicals and chemical products can have a significant impact on the environment, and ASTM standards help to ensure that these materials are used and disposed of in an environmentally responsible way. ASTM standards provide guidance on environmental performance criteria, as well as testing methods for evaluating the environmental impact of materials and products.
ASTM standards help to ensure that products are compatible with each other. This is especially important in the chemical industry, where materials and products often need to be used together or in close proximity. ASTM standards provide compatibility testing methods and criteria, which can help to prevent compatibility issues and product failures.
Cost and Savings
Finally, ASTM standards promote cost savings. By establishing performance and quality criteria, ASTM standards can help to identify areas for improvement and cost reduction. For example, by improving the performance of a material or product, manufacturers can reduce waste, increase efficiency, and save money. By using standardised testing methods, manufacturers can also reduce the cost of testing and ensure that their products meet regulatory requirements, which can save time and money.
Overall, ASTM standards are essential in the chemical industry because they promote safety, quality, performance, environmental responsibility, transparency, consistency, compatibility, and cost savings. These standards help to ensure that chemicals and chemical products are handled, used, and sold safely and effectively and that they have a positive impact on human health and the environment. By following ASTM standards, manufacturers can improve their products, enhance their reputation, and gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.