Metal standards serve to promote understanding and communication between metal producers and users, including processors, fabricators and distributive traders, and thereby facilitate trading products of the metal industry.

Standards are documented voluntary agreements that establish important criteria for products, services and processes. Standards help to make sure products and services are fit for their purpose and that they are comparable and compatible.

Standards for metals contain information about

  • the designation system for metal materials and alloys,
  • relevant nominal dimensions, tolerances on dimensions and shape tolerances, generally through references to appropriate dimensional standards,
  • the scope of inspection and testing, sampling, test-piece preparation, and the applicable inspection and test methods for the verification of specified properties, most often using references to appropriate test standards,
  • marking of the products.


Metal standards are developed by Standards Development Organizations (SDOs). Some of the most frequently used standards for metal materials include:


  • EN (Euronorm), which is a harmonized system of European countries. Although it is accepted and has been effectively used in all European countries for nearly two decades, “obsolete” national systems, such as German DIN, British BS, French AFNOR and Italian UNI can still often be found in many documents.
  • AISI (abbreviation from American Iron and Steel Institute), is traditionally used in the USA and abroad. Although it is obsolete, no longer maintained and is consequently being replaced by ASTM, SAE and other standards, it is still widespread.
  • Japanese JIS standards, which are widely used in Asia and the Pacific area. JIS specifications have also often been used as a base for other national systems, such as Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese.

Besides official metal standards, many manufacturers and suppliers tend to use their own proprietary, commercial names for the designation of materials. After years and decades, some of these designations have become widely used within the industrial community, and they are often referred to as “common“ names or “trade” names, without actually referring to the particular supplier. In most cases, these “common” names are not standardized and properties may vary substantially; their application in official technical documents should therefore be avoided when possible.

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