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 September 2005 From the Editor's Desk
E-mail Maryann Gorman

The Beat Goes On

Since ASTM International’s centennial in 1998, SN has been publishing various historical articles from technical committees as they celebrate significant anniversaries. Readers have been treated to overviews of a century’s technical developments in the manufacture or processing of materials such as steel, petroleum, coal, and others. While ASTM Committee D13 on Textiles won’t be turning 100 until 2014, some of the articles written this month by its members recall even more years of material history — 7,000 or more in the case of flax.

As ancient as they are ubiquitous, textiles occupy a large part of the ASTM International catalogue of standards. With jurisdiction over 360 standards, almost 500 members and 31 subcommittees, Committee D13 is as active now as it’s ever been. How can a material that’s been around so long still require so much standardization? This month’s feature section describes many of the areas urgently calling for new or significantly updated standards.

One article neatly exemplifies the cooperation of a major supply chain and ASTM International to meet the requirements of existing and anticipated U.S. regulation. As D13 member and former ASTM director Vincent Diaz describes in his article beginning on page 26, mattresses and futons are made of a variety of components, many of which are quite flammable. After the state of California passed legislation requiring an open-flame test for mattress sets and futons sold there, the textile supply chain began working both sides of their equation: helping their customers, mattress manufacturers, to understand the significance of the new regulations and ensuring that testing standards were in place that would properly evaluate mattress components in accordance with the California regulation. The result thus far, on the standardization side, has been the development, by Committee D13, of standards that help component manufacturers test 1) thread, edge binding tape, and fire barriers as individual units and as subassemblies and 2) the heat transfer of any thermal barrier fabric.

This government–industry synergy, played out every day in ASTM committees, is just one catalyst for the development of new and improved standards for textiles. In other articles, you’ll learn that the desire to improve the reliability of testing plays a part (as in the effort to improve quantification of fabric fuzzing and pilling), as does the introduction of new technologies (as in the case of sewn product automation or cotton quality measurement using newer high-volume instruments).

When I first started working at ASTM in my early 20s, I naively wondered why all the standards for “old standby” products hadn’t already been written. The ongoing work of D13 to improve the safety and quality of textiles and their manufacture is a good lesson in how and why the standardization beat goes on.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

 
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