To a "T"

Shawn Byrd

Tinius Olsen Testing Machine Company and ASTM were born in the same time and place.

The expression that "necessity is the mother of invention" was never more true than when it comes to the births of ASTM and Tinius Olsen Testing Machine Company.

Both organizations were born around the same time as a consequence of the development of new material during the height of the industrial revolution. Tinius Olsen was a brilliant engineer who had emigrated from Norway in 1865 and, while working with the Conshohocken Foundry in Pennsylvania, displayed a particular flair for tensile tester design. In 1880, he patented his designs for a single test frame that could perform tension, compression, and flexural strength determination tests, which he called the Little Giant, and created the company that still bears his name.

Tinius Olsen has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with ASTM International. About 40 percent of our U.S. engineering staff are actively involved in ASTM technical committees, with many serving as main or subcommittee chairmen or vice chairmen.

We see our involvement with ASTM as crucial to our continued success, and our involvement certainly benefits our customers with the interpretation of test procedures, reports, and standard cross-references as well as independent, third-party accreditation issues.

The healthy dialogue at ASTM committee meetings helps all involved parties. Raw material producers come to understand the difficulties and issues their customers face in using their products, and fabricators gain an understanding of the concerns and capabilities of the raw material suppliers. Quality control testing machinery manufacturers like Tinius Olsen need to understand the requirements of both, and Tinius Olsen can advise on how well materials can be tested to satisfy all stakeholders. It is this consensus on what, and how, materials can be made and tested that generates useful and relevant standards.

Tinius Olsen sales and customer support staff reference multiple ASTM and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards on a daily basis. When talking to a prospective customer, one of the primary questions we ask is, "To which standard are you testing?" When a standard is involved, it's easy for us to recommend a testing solution.

We also use standards whenever there is a question on a testing procedure. If a customer is generating unusual or unexpected results, their natural reaction is to question why and seek the root cause. We have found that in over 95 percent of these cases that the testing procedure, as stated in the standard, has not been followed correctly, or the calculation used to determine their results is incorrect. In these instances, the relevant standard becomes the rule of law.

Perhaps the most important way we use ASTM standards is in designing our machines. We refer to all relevant test standards to ensure that the machine, at a minimum, meets the performance requirements of the testing standards involved. This aspect of the way we use standards is not just limited to testing systems - it includes any gripping system we design for a particular material or a specific type of test, an extensometer we recommend to meet the requirements of a testing procedure, or the coding of our Horizon software so that resulting formulas and testing procedures are followed to a "T."


Shawn Byrd is technical manager at Tinius Olsen, and his primary focus is on materials testing and the application of various standards to different testing platforms that help evaluate materials and products. He is a member of Committees C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates, D30 on Composite Materials, E28 on Mechanical Testing, and F16 on Fasteners. Involved with independent testing labs in the United States, China, India, and Singapore, he has also completed numerous Nadcap, American Association for Laboratory Accreditation, and ISO audits.

Company Snapshot

  • Tinius Olsen Testing Machine Company
  • Specialist manufacturer and supplier of static tension and/or compression materials testing machines
  • Trading area: Global
  • Number of staff who serve on ASTM committees: 40 percent of U.S. staff
  • ASTM technical committees with Tinius Olsen representatives: C09, D20, D30, E04, E28, F16



Issue Month
Issue Year