What is ASTM to most of us? by ProQuest


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What is ASTM to most of us?

Is it more than that big
book or small CD we all
reference when we need to run a test?
By David Apkarian, president, TransTech Systems Inc.

         STM International (origi-     standard material specifications      mately 12,000 standards ranging
         nally known as the Ameri-     were necessary in order to produce    from crayons, cement, snow skiing,
         can Society for Testing and   a longer lasting rail.                advanced ceramics, biotechnology,
         Materials) was started in        With this start other industries   search and rescue, and terminology.
         1898 due to the poor qual-    soon took note and in 1902 cement,       The growth of ASTM has been
ity of steel manufacturing for the     nonferrous metals and alloys, paint   tremendous. It is truly arguable that
railroads.                             and coatings were added. From there   ASTM has had the largest impact
   While progress was slow, suppli-    ASTM grew to what it is today.        on our day to day quality of life and
ers and industry soon realized that       ASTM encompasses approxi-          an impact on national, regional and

58   asphalt contractor • June/July 2009

international commerce.                 this is a volunteer organization, so         Private companies are rarely
   Check the ASTM website —             the mix you may have on any one           invited into the research circles,
www.astm.org — for more infoma-         committee or task group may not be        and will frequently be prevented
tion on its history.                    a true representative cross section of    from participating. When they do
                                        the industry.                             develop ground breaking technol-
What exactly is                            Too often the committee rooms          ogy, manufactures are put through
an ASTM standard?                       are made up of manufactures and           such a gauntlet to prove it works
    We all use ASTM specifications      academia, and this is one of the          that many simply move on to other
or test methods in our daily life       major issues we have in our area of       industries or go out of business.
but few industry practitioners truly    ASTM, especially when new technol-           In reality it’s sad that we are our
understand what they represent or       ogy is presented. ASTM or the com-        own worst enemy when it comes to
how they come about.                    mittees assigned to various technical     innovation. Why does a researcher
    Many in the asphalt industry        aspects are not the traffic cop for our   concentrate on the 5% that may be
think ASTM is an approval specifi-      industry, that’s industry’s job.          questionable ab
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