April 13, 2012
ASTM International Committee F42 on Additive Manufacturing Technologies was organized in 2009 to develop industry standards. To date, new standards on terminology, testing, a new file format (as an alternative to STL), and a titanium alloy (Ti-6Al-4V) have been completed by the committee.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) also has a technical committee on additive manufacturing, called TC 261, with an almost identical focus and charge. Many of the same people and organizations are a part of it and the F42 committee. As one might expect, two “competing” standards groups involving the same people could lead to confusion and other problems.
To reduce and potentially eliminate opposing standards and duplication of effort, the leadership from the two committees discussed the need to cooperate. These discussions were then elevated to the top management at ASTM and ISO, which resulted in an agreement that is a first between the two organizations. It was signed in September 2011 by the ISO secretary general and ASTM International president.
This unprecedented agreement means that TC 261 can apply a “fast track” process to existing ASTM F42 standards, making them ISO standards quickly. Likewise, ASTM can easily adopt ISO TC 261 standards. The collaboration especially encourages the development of joint ISO/ASTM standards. In each of these cases, the two organizations can co-brand the additive manufacturing standards. In the process, a co-branded standard replaces a standard that would otherwise be published exclusively by ISO or ASTM.
This collaboration, in my opinion, is an important milestone in the additive manufacturing industry. It will result in standards that will be adopted much more widely here in the U.S. and around the world. Also, it should reduce conflict, and conflicting standards, between the ISO and ASTM committees on additive manufacturing. This collaboration is new to both organizations, so difficulties will likely develop, but with support at all levels in both organizations, these problems will be overcome.