Unrestricted Participation The Path To Global Acceptance Of Standards
Committee D30 on Composite Materials of ASTM International (West Conshohocken, Pa., U.S.A.) has been developing standards for high-performance composites since 1964, and has grown and matured with the field of advanced composites, as industry and market acceptance for composite products has advanced. D30 focuses on the development and maintenance of international standard test methods for high-performance composites (including sandwich constructions and materials), as well as standard practices, guides and terminology that support these test methods. Rather than create standard material specifications, D30 supports the specification work of other standards groups, especially subcommittee P17 of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). D30 also works closely with other industry standardization groups, such as the Composite Materials Handbook Committee (a/k/a MIL-HDBK-17), and numerous other ASTM Committees such as D20 on Plastics. Uses for D30 standards include material and process development and specification, design and analysis of composite structures, and application research and development. D30 standards also tend to contain a strong tutorial element that is typically not available from other sources. All D30 standards are at least metric- or SI-unit- compatible; most are dual-unit standards (SI or English), a very few being SI-only.
Committee D30 now has 58 standards available and being maintained, along with at least 14 new standards in development. For those not familiar with recent progress, an important introduction to the released D30 standards was just completely revised, re-titled and updated in the 2004 release of D4762, Standard Guide to Testing Polymer Matrix Composite Materials. This standard references all current PMC-based D30 standards (as well as some applicable or often-referenced standards from other ASTM Committees) and summarizes their scope along with notes on their advantages and disadvantages. Recent progress includes approval of six new standards just in the past two years (see "Recently Published ASTM Committee D30 Standards") and 14 new draft standards are now in progress (see six in "Pending ASTM Committee D30 Standards").
The number of new standards may eventually slow, but the need for composites standards work will continue for the foreseeable future. We expect future efforts to focus on improving user-friendliness of the standards, improving integration with material specifications, increasing consistency between standards, and clarifying applicability and commonality of specimen type and loading configuration amongst the many possible material types and forms within their scopes.
Please be aware that, unlike some standards organizations, Committee D30 is not a restricted organization - essentially it is (or should be, if you have an interest in test methods for composites) you. D30 is composed of volunteer international experts, such as the readers of this magazine, from any and all stakeholders that have sufficient interest to join and participate. The 230+ current members of D30 represent leading experts from the major composites organizations around the world: suppliers, fabricators, end users, research laboratories, testing laboratories and government agencies. There is significant and rapidly growing international involvement, including at least 38 participants from more than 14 countries outside the U.S.
Committee D30 believes that open and transparent, volunteer-based, full-consensus standards development processes, such as those implemented by ASTM International, tend to produce a technically superior and more responsive result with broader acceptance than the one-country/one-vote processes of ISO. Also, while the scope of the counterpart committee within ISO, TC 61 on Plastics, includes composites, ISO TC 61 is far less focused on the needs of the suppliers and users of composites. In contrast, D30 focuses on the needs of stakeholders in composites, rather than attempting to force artificial harmonization with plastics-based standards. Overly broad test methods cannot serve all stakeholders well.
Electronic participation in D30 makes it easy for participants to interact and be involved, regardless of their geographic locations. We all know that competitive issues make distant travel and physical presence at meetings (while still desirable) ever more difficult. The only requirements for task-group-level participation in D30 standards development from anywhere in the world are: 1) an interest in the types of standards that are within the D30 scope and the ability to contribute to the development of such standards; 2) Internet and/or e-mail access; and 3) the ability to communicate in written technical English. Committee D30 welcomes your interest.
More information about Committee D30 activities is available from ASTM.