The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) was founded in 1880 as a society that was intended to help the engineers of the day work through issues related to the rapid mechanization that was taking place. In the years following ASME’s founding, there were a number of catastrophic boiler explosions that caused serious loss of life. In 1884 the ASME prepared a Boiler Testing Code, followed by the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code in 1915.
The ASME, along with several other engineering associations, proposed that a national body be set up to oversee the implementation of national standards. This led to the formation in 1919 of what was initially known as the American Engineering Standards Committee. The organization’s name changed several times but finally in 1969 it became the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI itself does not write standards but contracts bodies such as the ASME to develop specialized standards.
ASME and Pressure Vessels
ASME is widely recognized for its work developing standards for the reliable and predictable manufacturing of pressure vessels. This evolved from their earlier work on boilers and today has grown to cover virtually every aspect of pressure vessel design and manufacture. ASME Section VIII is recognized as the leading pressure vessel design standard and is used by many countries around the world. In fact, the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code has numerous sections covering everything from boilers, pressure vessels, material certifications, welding standards and even nuclear installations.
Safety and ASME
Apart from the need to introduce harmonious standards that facilitate industrial collaboration, a major focus of ASME work has been on safety and preventing accidents. Their work includes such diverse activities as safety in heavy lifting, safe railway transport, elevators, steam turbines and nuclear power.
ASME and Manufacturing
Through its work, ASME has had a profound impact on all forms of manufacturing not only in the US but around the world. Part of its worldwide impact has been due to the need for overseas manufacturers to comply with American standards in order to be able to export equipment to the U.S. At the same time many nations adopted ASME standards as being suitable for their own needs. It is largely due to the standardization activities of ASME that manufacturers throughout the U.S. are able to effectively work together.