The American Society for Testing and Materials is an organization that creates voluntary standards for a vast amount of tools, substances, and services. Essentially, the group establishes the proper operating standards and parameters under which building materials can function, services can be provided, and tools can be used. The ASTM consists of over 30,000 members in over 120 countries, and regulates literally thousands of different types of standards. However, a few major categories can be established from which to sketch an idea of what the standards do and what affect they are supposed to have on their respective industries.

Construction Standards

ASTM's construction standards were among the organization's original innovations when it was founded in 1898. Many of the organization's original projects were construction-oriented. The ASTM consists of over 1,300 separate standards. Sub-categories of ASTM's construction standards include adhesive standards, building standards, cement standards, masonry standards, roofing standards, and wood standards.

Steel Standards

ASTM's steel standards are used to classify, to evaluate, and to specify the different types of steel used in various industrial applications. These applications can include the production of mechanical components, industrial parts, and other accessories. Standards exist for many types of steel, including stainless, ferritic, carbon, and structural steel. Steel standards exist for everything from steel fences to steel tubing.

Metal Standards

ASTM also provides standards for many other types of metal, including copper, cast iron, and aluminum. ASTM's metal standards also apply to products made from metal and used in the construction fields. ASTM's standards also cover the fatigue, corrosion, and wear and tear of various types of metal both under duress and over time.

Plastics Standards

ASTM plastics standards cover not only all varieties of plastic but also its polymeric derivatives. Among the sub-groups of plastic standards are analytic methods to test the properties of different types of plastics, cellular materials, the durability of plastics, the mechanical properties of plastics, and standards covering molded plastic pieces, plastic building products, plastic lumber, and recycled plastic.

Paint Standards

ASTM's paint standards also cover many other different types of coatings. In addition to standardizing the properties of paint and various coatings, ASTM also develops standards that explicate the proper process of applying paints and coatings. Among the coatings in addition to paint covered by ASTM standards are enamels, varnishes, electroplatings, pigments, and solvents.