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ASTM F42, a Vision for Standardizing the Additive Manufacturing World

Due to the horizontal nature of the market, the need for shared standards in the additive manufacturing industry is, in many ways, even more relevant than in traditional manufacturing industries. For the first time ever, the largest Standard developers in North America and Europe, ASTM and ISO, have joined forces to standardize AM processes. At the upcoming IN(3D)USTRY conference in Barcelona,  ASTM F42 will offer a vision for the future of AM.

While ISO created TC-261, ASTM created the F42 committee in 2009 to begin organizing the additive manufacturing segment in a collaboration with SME, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Nine standards have been implemented to date by the F42 Committee and 20 more are being developed.

The ASTM Committee F42 (Download the F42_Fact_Sheet_2017), which comprises over 550 members and represents 26 countries from around the world, will soon present its work at the IN(3D)USTRY conference in Barcelona. There, visitors will be able to learn about the history of F42 and ASTM, as well as the collaborative vision it has with ISO to establish standards for additive manufacturing processes. Pat Picariello, director of Developmental Operations at ASTM International, explains how the collaboration came to be:

“F42 was organized in 2009. About a year and a half after that, ISO put forth an application to create an ISO TC on additive, which ultimately became TC-261. Once it became apparent that it was going to happen, ASTM decided that it would be a good thing to try to work collaboratively with that group.”

ISO and ASTM have signed a partner standards developing organization (PSDO) agreement, which enables the development of joint standards. As Picariello explains it, there will be ISO standards, ASTM standards, and a growing number of ISO/ASTM standards, each of which possess their own unique designations.

“We have different internal mechanisms for developing standards,” he says. “The agreement aligns those things. Essentially, where there’s an idea for something new, whether its ASTM or ISO, we will reach out to the other organization and inform them that we’re contemplating working in a particular area and ask whether they would like to join with us. If they say yes, we extract that idea out of the individual process and we develop it collectively. If they say no, then it proceeds in its own way.”

The collaboration marks the first time ASTM has worked “from the bottom up” to establish standards in additive manufacturing—an industry which spans various fields, including the aerospace, automotive, and medical sectors.

One of the major accomplishments of ASTM and ISO working together so far has been a terminology standard document, which identifies and defines seven major categories within AM. The terminology document has, for the first time, laid out a standardized definition of additive manufacturing. Materials, processes, and file formats are some other areas that will be addressed by ASTM and ISO.

Picariello also emphasizes that the standards being developed by ASTM and ISO are not certifications themselves, and both organizations will have to work closely with other regulatory bodies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to employ them.

“The standards that come out of ASTM and ISO are voluntary standards; our organization might not have the authority to mandate the use of an ASTM standard,” he says. “But when a regulator uses that document as the basis for certification or they reference it in a regulation, then the voluntary document becomes mandatory. That’s why we encourage the participation of the federal government, as well as state and local governments, as active stakeholders in the process.”

The goal, and indeed the main challenge, of establishing AM standards is to create certainty and consistency for the communities using the standards.

“It’s one thing to develop specifications and test methods and terminology. It’s another thing to have those documents become embedded in the processes that the user community has in place to create the kind of confidence that comes from being able to reproduce a part exactly over and over again,” Picariello concludes.

About Davide Sher

Over the last decade Davide has built up extensive experience as both a technology journalist and communications consultant. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he received his undergraduate degree from SUNY Stony Brook. He is a senior analyst for US-based firm SmarTech Publishing focusing on the additive manufacturing industry. He founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. which specialises in media and communications services for the 3DP and AM industry, through which he runs 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, as well as two editorial websites, 3D Printing Media Network and Il Replicatore.

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