The ‘American Society for Testing and Materials’, or ASTM, is an organisation which publishes technical standards in the field of materials and services. One of the original purposes for the ASTM was to find a solution for the high frequency of failures in rail materials. Their efforts resulted in a universal standard for the quality of steel used for rails. Since then, the ASTM has published more than 12000 standards. The name of the organisation was changed in 2001 to ASTM International since it counted members (suppliers and government authorities alike) from approximately 100 countries.
Outside of the United States, the use of ASTM standards is not required by law and the standards are thus often applied voluntarily. In Europe, familiarity with the ASTM standards is primarily due to American product suppliers and the fact that European suppliers are required by US law to meet ASTM standards for any products supplied to American customers.