The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and ASTM International said last week they have jointly crafted the Additive Manufacturing Standards Development Structure, a framework which they say will help meet the needs for new technical standards in this fast-growing field. 

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is the process of joining materials layer upon layer, as opposed to “subtractive manufacturing” methods such as machining.

The new structure does not confine the scope of work for any standards organization but provides a framework in which the majority of standards needs can be met. A companion guidance document is also being developed to accompany this structure.

The new structure will help:

  • guide the work of global experts and standards development organizations involved in AM standardization;
  • identify standards-related gaps and needs in the AM industry;
  • prevent overlap and duplicative efforts in AM standards development;
  • ensure cohesion among AM standards;
  • prioritize AM standards areas; and,
  • improve usability and acceptance among the AM community, including manufacturers, entrepreneurs, consumers, and others.

Based on this structure, standards can be developed at three levels:

  • general standards (, concepts, common requirements, guides, safety);
  • standards for broad categories of materials (e.g., metal powders) or processes (e.g., powder bed fusion); and,
  • specialized standards for a specific material (e.g., aluminum alloy powders), process (e.g., material extrusion with ABS), or application (, aerospace, medical, automotive).

“This coordinated approach to standards development in AM is crucial to building out robust standards at all levels,” said Jörg Lenz, collaborative projects coordinator at Electro Optical Systems and chair of ISO Technical Committee 261 on additive manufacturing (ISO/TC261). 

“Standards developers can see how this new structure allows them to come together, leading to further innovation in fields like aerospace, medical, and automotive, and also other benefits such as a platform for certification activities,” he added.