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AM Investment Strategies Profile: ASTM International

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ASTM International’s Mohsen Seifi will take part in the SmarTech – Stifel AM Investment Strategies 2021 summit on September 9, 2021. There, senior executives and key decision-makers from the 3D printing industry will gather to discuss the business opportunities and financial impact of the technology going forward.

As one of the leading players in the additive manufacturing (AM) world, global standards developer ASTM International is on a mission to integrate consensus standards, developed with its international membership of volunteer technical experts and innovative services. So far, some 37 AM standards have been published, and over 77 are under development. Moreover, ASTM’s AM standards are intended to promote knowledge of the industry, help stimulate research and accelerate the adoption and implementation of the technology, especially as companies move from prototyping to industrial production at scale,

ASTM’s origins date back to the beginning of the twentieth century when chemist Charles Dudley began standardizing how rail quality was tested to ensure railway safety. Still, it wasn’t until 2009 that the organization began developing and publishing the first standards for additive manufacturing technologies. By that time, 3D printing was still considered a fairly young industry, beginning to disrupt manufacturing.

However, interest in AM processes became widespread, evidenced by the increasing innovations in new products and designs that can only be created through AM and a surge in intellectual property. Between 2010 and 2019, leading companies published over 3,000 3D printing patents – with industry giants like HP and GE leading the pack. By 2020, AM patents were booming. In fact, in a 2021 study published by leading patent data analysts at IFI Claims Patent Services, 3D printing ranked 9th out of the top ten fastest-growing technologies. The study found that the number of patents filed in the AM market had an annual growth rate of 27.14%.

As AM became an emerging industry, many companies began claiming industry-specific standards for structured methods and more reliable data that would facilitate technology adoption and growth. To develop AM standards required by the industry, ASTM formed the Committee F42 in 2009. With well over 900 expert members globally, the F42 meets twice a year and publishes its Annual Book of all standards developed to date, which will play a preeminent role in all aspects of 3D printing processes.

Currently published standards for AM respond to particular industry needs, such as how to characterize the properties of metal powders used in AM (ASTM F3049-14) or how to quickly assess the quality of 3D printed parts and the performance of laser powder bed fusion 3D printing processes (ASTM F3434-20). ASTM also issued a standard guide for directed energy deposition (DED) with metals (ASTM F3187-16) and even defined standard terminology for AM. Furthermore, some of F42’s standards have been adopted as joint ISO/ASTM standards under the Partner Standards Developing Organization (PSDO)
cooperative agreement with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

User removing a 3D printed part from a machine.

Safety standards are catching up to AM. Image courtesy of ASTM.

Interested in creating a place where industry, government, and academia converged to advance the current state of AM, ASTM launched the Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AMCOE) program in July 2018. ASTM created the dynamic, fast-paced technology space in collaboration with Auburn University, NASA, manufacturing technology innovator EWI, and the UK-based Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC). AMCOE’s advisory board is comprised of U.S. and international public and private sector leaders that are helping fill the gaps in technical standards for the AM industry to drive innovation. As a result, ASTM hopes to empower industries, such as aerospace, automotive, and healthcare, eager to apply AM to their production.

On a fast-track to developing more AM standards and expand 3D printing applications, ASTM recently debuted a strategic guide that identifies gaps, challenges, solutions, and action plans for AM data, developed in collaboration with America Makes, signed cooperative agreements with  AMCOE founding member NASA for more collaborative projects, and launched several funding rounds to support the development of its AM standards. Since 2018, the non-profit organization has invested more than $1 million in research funding to support AM COE partners in addressing pressing technical information needs in the fast-growing 3D printing arena. For more information, visit AM COE page to access annual reports.

With international offices in Belgium, Canada, China, Singapore, Peru, and Washington D.C., ASTM International is making lots of progress in an area beginning to standardize processes to improve manufacturing quality and productivity. As AM technologies continue to evolve and become more cost-efficient, standardization becomes a crucial stepping stone moving forward. Learn more about ASTM International and how its standards will continue to play a key role in helping companies drive innovation during the free SmarTech – Stifel AM Investment Strategies 2021 summit on September 9, 2021. Hear from Seifi and other industry leaders as they explore the core financial side of 3D printing.

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