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Market Expansion and Building Codes Usage Drive Development of Wood and Natural Fiber-Polymer Composites Standards

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ASTM International Committee D07 on Wood is seeking participation in the development of a proposed new specification that establishes engineering design values for wood and natural fiber-polymer composites. As the performance of these composites improves, more sophisticated engineering applications will become available to this class of materials. Engineering design values will enhance their ability to be used by design professionals.

Wood plastic composites are an engineered material finding application around the world. Because of the ability to design these materials for specific end-uses and their environmental salience, it is expected that they will continue to enjoy success in the marketplace.

As WPCs move into more sophisticated building code regulated applications it becomes increasingly important that all stakeholders become involved in developing meaningful product evaluation criteria. In addition to providing a path for new technology to enter the marketplace, product test methods and evaluation criteria are vital in providing safe and healthy structures. This mandates participation in standards writing organizations with a global perspective. Worldwide harmonization of these standards will play an important role in meeting the ever-increasing demands on earths resources.

The proposed new standard has been preceded by two other new ASTM standards related to WPCs. The first, D 7031, Guide for Evaluating the Mechanical and Physical Properties of Wood-Plastic Composite Products, compiles a comprehensive list of reference standards for evaluation of these products. Selecting from this compendium of test methods, a user can better understand product performance as it relates to a broad range of building construction applications. It is intended to provide guidance for product development efforts as potential market opportunities are identified.

Drawing from the broad spectrum of standards identified in D 7031, the WPC industry requested a standard specification that addressed the predominant use of this emerging material -- deck boards and guardrail systems.The result of this request was D 7032. This specification was developed to provide a clear linkage between building code requirements and test results. Product tests and criteria for acceptance were developed to assist manufacturers and code organizations in assessing product compliance with the building codes.

These standards have already been adopted as key reference documents by the International Code Council-Evaluation Service (ICC-ES). Reports issued by ICC-ES are used by local building officials to evaluation new and innovative building products for compliance with code requirements.

ASTM Standards are available from Customer Service (phone: 610/832-9585; or

For further technical information, contact David S. Gromala, Weyerhaeuser Company, Federal Way, Wash. (phone: 253/924-6499;; or Robert J. Tichy, Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory, Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. (phone: 253/529-0900; Committee D07 will meet Oct. 18-21, at the October Committee Week in Dallas, Texas. For membership or meeting details, contact Kevin Shanahan, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9737;

Release #7223