Standards are practices established by authority, custom, or common consent. The practices embrace all activities of society including social, religious, educational, and technical practices. This paper deals with technical practices embodied in national or international engineering standards. A good engineering standard should: (1) stimulate competition and not restrict trade; (2) prescribe practices which conserve natural resources; (3) be abreast of technology and not be a deterrent to desirable change arising from new knowledge, new capabilities, or new environment; (4) be concise, explicit, and limited to essential provisions and requirements; and (5) be effective in achieving its purpose.
Due to the rapid increase in the number of standards both domestically and internationally, there is a movement to control proliferation through the development and use of international standards, primarily under the aegis of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Standards developed by ISO and IEC have now become sufficient in number to be a significant factor in international trade.
Standards development has varied considerably from one industry to another, and U. S. participation in ISO and IEC has also varied from industry to industry. ISO Technical Committee 45 on Rubber and Rubber Products has been among the ten most active committees, and U. S. participation has been exceptionally effective in it. Nearly 80 percent of the 102 standards developed by ISO/TC 45 through 1972 are in accord with ASTM Standards.
Recently, there has been a growing interest in standards for consumer products, both nationally and internationally. Eight of the 20 ISO committees most recently established deal with consumer products. There has also been a growing interest in ascertaining the ability of laboratories to obtain consistent results using standard methods, both nationally and internationally. The Standard Reference Materials issued by NBS and the NBS interlaboratory programs for testing were established for this purpose. Laboratory performance, international standardization, and the development of standards for consumer products are likely to become increasingly important in future standardization efforts.