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 September 2005 Feature
Richard Wilhelm is news editor/writer for Standardization News.

D13 Standards Pave the Way for Imports to the United States

The journey of a textile product imported into the United States is like any other road trip: it can be long and arduous at times, but a series of strategically placed stops along the way can help keep everything moving smoothly toward a satisfying destination for everyone involved. More often than not, these stops involve testing done in accordance with standards developed by ASTM International Committee D13 on Textiles. The ultimate goal of each of these stops is to ensure that the consumer will be completely satisfied with the quality and safety of the product at the end of its journey. If the consumer is happy, then everyone else along the way — retailer, manufacturer, testing laboratories, government agencies — will be happy with the end product as well.

Given the variety of textiles currently being imported into the United States, that end product could be a number of different things. It could be the shirt that you’re wearing, any of the individual fabrics and components that go into making apparel, or the blankets, bedspreads and sheets on your bed.

When one of the major U.S.-based retailers decides to carry a certain line of clothing, it will often cite a specific D13 performance specification to manufacturers that are bidding to do the production work. In the case of bathing suits, D 3996, Performance Specification for Knit Swimwear Fabrics, would be cited.

Once a manufacturer has been chosen, and the work completed, the retailer’s laboratory, or an independent lab contracted by the retailer, will test the product to make sure it meets the specification originally provided by the retailer to the manufacturer. In addition, labs can test the individual components that comprise a product by using such D13 standards as D 2061, Test Methods for Strength Tests for Zippers, and D 5171, Test Method for Impact Resistance of Plastic Sew-Through Flange Buttons. If the products pass the lab tests, the trip can continue.

Once imports reach the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, uses a broad range of ASTM International standards to identify and test products coming into the country. With so many different textile products being imported into the U.S., and in such large quantities, many of the standards used by CBP are D13 standards. Listings of all standards used by CBP are available on its Web site.

An additional U.S. government agency that makes use of a D13 standard is the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC’s Care Labeling Rule requires manufacturers and importers to attach care instructions to garments. Symbols can be used to signify the type of care that a garment does or does not require, but the symbols must be those developed by Committee D13 for their standard, D 5489, Guide for Care Symbols for Care Instructions on Textile Products.

International trade is complicated but the stops along the way, facilitated by D13 standards, exist to ensure that all parties involved are ultimately satisfied with the results of the process. //

Acknowledgements

The author acknowledges the assistance of Kay Villa, Kathleen Mulligan-Brown, Connie Vecellio, Janett Rice, Karen Mueser, William Silveira and Melissa Halstead in the preparation of this story.

 
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