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by Rich Fields

ASTM Committee D30 on Composites has written world-class assessment standards for high-performance fibers and their composites for many years. The committee has initiated an effort to increase its already sizable international participation and promote its standards as global in scope and use. D30 Vice Chairman Rich Fields explains the committee’s rationale and how it intends to “internationalize.”

Background—D30 and Composites

ASTM Committee D30 on Composite Materials focuses on standard test methods for composite materials, and standard practices, guides, and terminology that support these test methods. (D30 is currently not creating standard material specifications, leaving this category to other standards groups, especially the Aerospace Material Specifications of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).) The results of tests conducted in accordance with D30 standards have many uses, including material specifications, design and analysis of composite structures, and research and development. There is a strong tutorial element in D30’s standard test methods; readers of these standards can learn much that is not taught elsewhere.

D30 activities sometimes overlap with the scopes of certain subcommittees of other ASTM committees, including those of C28 on Advanced Ceramics, E08 on Fatigue and Fracture, E28 on Mechanical Testing, and others. D30 strives to work closely with such recognized groups in areas of mutual interest. D30 also works closely with other industry groups such as the Composite Materials Handbook Committee (MIL-HDBK-17), SAE, and the Composite Fabricators Association (CFA).

D30 Standards—Best of Type

Committee D30 has been developing standards for high performance fibers and their composites since 1964, and has grown and matured with the field of advanced composites as composite products have become accepted for use by industry. D30 membership has always included many of the leading experts in composites from around the world, and the leadership of the committee has worked hard to continually and rapidly adjust committee emphasis to meet the changing needs of the industry.

A typical member of D30 has an engineering or science degree (most with advanced degrees, and a great many with doctorates) in engineering mechanics or materials science (or another related field) and a number of years of experience in composites. The 217 members of D30 (at this writing) represent the major composites organizations in the world: suppliers, end users and producers, research laboratories, testing laboratories, and government agencies. While U.S.-based members currently constitute the bulk of the D30 committee, there is a significant non-U.S. membership of strong participants, including at least 35 of the committee’s 217 members who are from 14 different non-U.S. countries.

Why Internationalize?

Most of us recognize that there is now a significant global economy. Few of us, regardless of national origin, would deliberately select (if it can be avoided, and without loss of capability) test methods different from those used by our counterparts elsewhere around the world.

Since the early 1990s, D30 Executive Committee policies have emphasized the active harmonization of D30 standards with other standards groups, and where appropriate, the co-development of standards with other standards groups. The committee has particularly emphasized joint efforts with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The bulk of the composites work in ISO is executed by its Technical Committee (TC) 61 on Plastics, and D30 participates in TC 61 via the U.S. Technical Advisory Group that is located in ASTM D20.61.

Committee D30 has always had a significant, inherent, global flavor, due to its international membership, but it cannot and has not ignored ISO. In its cooperation with ISO TC 61, D30 has participated in international meetings, contributed comment to proposed ISO standards, conducted joint ASTM/ISO round-robin testing in support of test method development, and proposed its own standards to be worked within ISO. This has met with some mutual success, such as ASTM D 5528, Test Method for Mode I Interlaminar Fracture Toughness of Unidirectional Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Matrix Composites, being published by ISO as ISO 15024. But D30 has learned from its ISO involvement that the ISO process is not as conducive as is ASTM’s to the rapid development and maintenance of true full-consensus standards. The committee has also come to recognize that the scope of its working counterpart in ISO does not currently fully address the needs of the suppliers and users of “advanced composites” that are the focus of Committee D30.

In short, the ASTM process produces a better technical result with greater consensus, more quickly. Maximizing the committee’s responsiveness to the industry it serves means that D30 will emphasize use of the more efficient ASTM process, reserving the less efficient ISO process for use only where it is required.

As for which standards we intend to use for this program, essentially all of D30’s activities merit global consideration. Priorities will be set for the globalization of committee standards based on feedback from the new process the committee is preparing to implement.

The Plan

D30 will expand its already significant international membership and participation simply by making it as easy as possible for its membership to interact and be involved, regardless of their geographic or national location. We all know that competitive issues make distant travel and physical presence at meetings more difficult now than in any recent time. D30 is defining and refining a new standards development process that will be widely inclusive, eliminating classical international postal problems and making physical travel optional for most purposes. (This is not to say that physical meetings are not useful or productive, but simply that the committee will provide new means of interaction for those who cannot often travel, as well as a means to work more productively between meetings.) And a process that makes it easier for D30 members around to world to interact also makes it easier for U.S.-based interests to increase their participation.

What was not possible even five years ago is now commonplace via the Internet and Web communication technology. The committee’s goal is to allow involvement in D30 standards development from any part of the world, with minimal impediment. 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.

As is the norm with task groups, formal ASTM membership is not required. And, as we all know, the bulk of standards development work, including the most meaningful input, is done at the task group level.

The Story So Far

Alternatives to the current level of committee participation in ISO were considered following the rejection of a number of D30 co-sponsored New Work Items at the September 1999 ISO TC 61 meetings. The concept of going global on our own was first discussed during a February 2000 teleconference with ASTM staff. D30 leadership presented this concept to the Executive Committee for approval at its March 2000 meetings, and immediately began development of the details. By May 2000 the basic effort had been sketched out and D30 was already executing some segments of the plan while continuing to develop the rest of it.

The committee first defined a new electronic standards development process, centered around a new Standards Coordination and Globalization Initiative (SCGI) task group, D30.93, which will have the scope of improving and broadening international debate on D30 standards. The results of these task group discussions, whether draft revisions for existing standards or proposed new standards, will be fed to the existing D30 subcommittees, which will take over and move any resulting proposals through the ASTM balloting process. (Note that electronic balloting is also in testing by ASTM—see the article on page 30.)

D30.93 task group membership will initially be solicited from an e-mail list, developed by the D30 Executive Committee, of international contacts in the composites field (but also including new U.S. contacts). An e-mail letter of introduction from the committee was sent in early February, and included the details of how to participate in the task group; announcement of this activity will also be published in the major industry periodicals. A page on the ASTM Web site has been created to allow participants to get information on and join this task group via the Web. Task group participants will be placed on an e-mail list server that will be a mechanism for subsequent task group announcements as well as intra-group communication. Most task group review and discussion will take place on the Web-based ASTM Standards Development Forums, where draft documents can be uploaded and downloaded, reviewed on-line, and comments noted for consideration by others. (Non-ASTM members will be given special access to the Web forum.)

The intention is that this task group will provide a broader consensus of direction for the D30 subcommittees that are the permanent caretakers for the standards.

The first item of business, on which D30 began to work immediately in parallel with the remaining planning activities, was to obtain valid e-mail addresses for the full committee membership; this was an obvious imperative for an e-mail-based process. By June of 2000 the committee had verified correct e-mail addresses for 207 of the 217 current members. Of the remaining 10, eight members could not be contacted by any means (and without contact with ASTM they will soon cease to be members). Only two committee members do not have e-mail or web access; postal/fax/phone communication will continue to be available for them. As a result, D30 is now able to electronically communicate with more than 99 percent of its membership and is already beginning to see benefits from having an electronic committee.

D30 is prepared to make “on-the-fly” corrections to the baseline process, if needed, to get the results it seeks. But regardless of the details that may change with fine-tuning, the committee’s long-term goal is simply this: to improve participation in D30 standards development so that D30 standards will become more useful to more people globally, and thus will be used more globally. //

Copyright 2001, ASTM

Rich Fields, senior staff engineer at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., is vice chairman of ASTM Committee D30 on Composite Materials and an ASTM Fellow. He served on COTCO from 1994 to 1996 and was chair of the COTCO Subcommittee on Technical Operations for 1996.