ASTM International Standards in Europe

Case Studies Show Benefits to the Region
Cicely Enright

People from all over the world participate in the work of ASTM International’s 140+ committees, which cover 90 industry sectors. The standards that result make a difference in countries spanning the globe.

The standards used in Europe cover areas as diverse as these committees, from additive manufacturing to construction, nuclear power, consumer products, and much more. 

3D Printing Everywhere

Additive manufacturing continues to gain momentum in numerous industrial sectors worldwide. The need for standards to drive industry innovation and growth has led to the dramatic growth of the committee on additive manufacturing technologies (F42). F42, including its dozens of European members, has been addressing the standards development needs for the industrialization of this innovative approach to new
products since 2009. European companies both participate on the committee and use its standards.

Klas Boivie, Ph.D., an F42 member, does research in additive manufacturing. He is a senior research scientist in the Production Technology division of SINTEF Manufacturing, Norway’s national research organization, and a new member of the ASTM International board of directors.

With the diverse needs and requirements related to AM, Boivie notes the need for standards. “In my own area of research, which focuses on the industrial application of additive manufacturing technology, we see the importance of standards grow on an almost daily basis,” he says.

“It is an absolute necessity to have good clear standards for testing and verification that researchers, project partners, producers, users, and final customers can refer to,” Boivie says. “SINTEF must have the ability to use the standards that are relevant to our partners and customers, and ASTM standards have a strong position on many markets.”

At its most basic level, additive manufacturing needs — and benefits from — a common language, which has been structured through a terminology standard that was among the first documents developed by F42. Since its original development, a harmonized, joint standard from ASTM and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has taken its place through a Partner Standards Development Organization cooperation agreement.

The PSDO agreement, which now includes several additional jointly developed ISO/ASTM standards, has given the AM standards development community the opportunity to develop one set of standards to be used worldwide in a global market. “The vision of ‘one set of AM standards to be used all over the world’ is actually a realistic possibility,” Boivie says.

Also noteworthy, the U.K.-based Manufacturing Technology Centre is a founding partner in the new Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, which is advancing AM standards and ASTM and partner capabilities.

Construction Standards Support EU Products

CE markings — used for products sold in the European Economic Area — show that an item is compliant with health, safety and environmental protection standards. The markings assure the conformity of a product with declared performance values, most commonly through the use of harmonized European standards (hENs).

For construction, the EU Construction Products Regulation governs the products. However, some products may be only partially covered by hENs, or not at all.

When this situation occurs, manufacturers can use the CE marking on a voluntary basis for products covered by European Assessment Documents.

The process involves Technical Assessment Bodies who produce these assessment documents and issue European Technical Assessments. The Construction Technologies Institute is one such group. The institute collaborates with other European construction product assessors as well as the European Commission and standards organizations. Accepted EADs are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

“The idea is to allow for a common and global technical language, able to allow manufacturers to assess their products through test methods and criteria already established in other international assessment and certification procedures,” says Antonio Bonati, a researcher at the Construction Technologies Institute in Italy.

In the process of developing a European Assessment Document, Bonati says, the Construction Technologies Institute uses ASTM International standards as references for various construction products, such as composite materials, thermal insulation, glass, and ceramics.

As an example, Bonati cites products designed to strengthen concrete and masonry structures with fiber-reinforced polymers or fabric-reinforced matrixes. A manufacturer requested a technical assessment because hENs do not currently exist for such products. Bonati’s organization developed an assessment document that references ASTM International standards for conditioning the composite system, for example, in saltwater, water, alkali environments, and with heat aging, as well as for determining the polymeric matrix
creep behavior.

According to Bonati, his organization is looking toward opportunities for European manufacturers to obtain European and U.S. certification simultaneously and is working on how this might happen. He says, “In this sense, ASTM standards become a common reference for the assessment.”

Nuclear Power and ASTM Standards

Worldwide, nuclear power accounts for 10 percent of electricity. In the European Union, plants generate an even larger share — almost 30 percent.

Dozens of ASTM International standards, including those from the committee on nuclear fuel cycle (C26), support nuclear power.

ASTM standards can be used rather than different specifications for each customer in each contract, according to Bertrand Morel, director of research and development for Orano, a nuclear power and renewable energy multinational headquartered in Paris. Morel highlights two particular standards for UF6 (C996 and C787, specifications for uranium hexafluoride), which he notes are cited worldwide for international transactions.

Authorities such as the International Atomic Energy Agency also cite measurement standards from ASTM International such as:

  • Test method for determination of uranium or plutonium isotopic composition or concentration by the total evaporation method using a thermal ionization mass spectrometer (C1672), and
  • Test method for determination of uranium isotopic composition by the double spike method using a thermal ionization mass spectrometer (C1871).

Stephan Richter, Dr. rer. nat., scientific officer for nuclear mass spectrometry at the European Commission and a C26 member, says that these standard methods help maintain and improve nuclear material measurement quality for safeguard purposes because they provide detailed method description plus information about the typical expected measurement performance. As a result, lab personnel can more successfully perform the tests on samples and also evaluate and judge results.

Another ASTM International standard describes the modified total evaporation method for determining uranium isotope abundances by thermal ionization mass spectrometry (C1832). This standard method, Richter explains, is known to be an improved approach to determine major and minor isotope ratios in uranium material. The major ratios indicate enrichment while the minor ratios indicate source or origin of the nuclear material as well as the processes it has been through. That information helps authorities verify material declarations and possibly identify clandestine nuclear material.

Standards such as these help all involved — from the lab personnel to auditors to the public — to feel confidence in the quality of the data, and thus the safety of a nuclear facility.

Consumer Products: Strollers

“There are a number of countries mandating the use of the applicable consumer goods standards published by ASTM International,” says Kay Samulak. Global compliance officer for Bugaboo, a Netherlands-based company that produces mobility products, including strollers, sold worldwide, Samulak is also a member of the committee on consumer products (F15).

Samulak highlights that her European company uses the ASTM International consumer safety performance specification for carriages and strollers (F833), saying the standard is used for product compliance in various countries. For example, Singapore’s consumer protection regulations mandate F833 as an alternate standard for compliance. Similarly, the Hong Kong Toys and Children’s Products Safety Ordinance includes F833 for imports there. And in Australia, F833 has been proposed as industry standard there as long as country requirements for red brakes and tether straps are also included.

“Due to the need for less trade barriers between countries and regions, there is greater need for standards harmonization,” says Samulak. She adds that ASTM International technical experts and their global counterparts are working to harmonize standards to lead to global safety for little ones. “Here the expertise of the ASTM members is of great benefit and helps to ensure a higher quality standard,” Samulak says.

A Final Word

Many other ASTM International committees include representatives from European organizations working to develop standards that serve global needs.

For more information about ASTM International’s work in Europe, contact Sara Gobbi, director of European affairs.

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