Their website defines the society as an engineering and scientific community, "led by its members, guided by the members needs and fueled by member participation," sharing information and ideas through local chapter meetings, international conferences and expositions, affiliate societies, education courses and various technical publications.
ASM provides several information resources, including the ASM Handbooks, a series of reference books that provide data on various types of metals. These handbooks are recognized as a standard reference in the field of materials science. Examples of topics covered by the ASM Handbooks are mechanical properties of metals, corrosion studies, and much more. Other publications include technical journals such as Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A and Journal of Phase Equilibria and Diffusion. ASM also hosts numerous international conferences each year.
Five affiliate societies focused on specific areas of materials science also fall under the ASM umbrella: The Heat Treating Society (HTS), the Thermal Spray Society (TSS), the International Metallographic Society (IMS), the Electronic Device Failure Analysis Society (EDFAS), and Shape Memory and Superelastic Technology (SMST). Each society is led by volunteers, produces specific technical content for members, and holds its own international event.
As the charitable arm of ASM, the ASM Materials Education Foundation also operates several "Materials Camps" in the summers for high school students and teachers. These camps are intended to educate the public about the materials field, and encourage young people to pursue careers in materials science and engineering.
ASM has been in existence, under various names, since 1913, when it began as a local club in Detroit called the Steel Treaters Club. During World War I, the Steel Treaters Club became the Steel Treating Research Society, with groups in Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland. After World War I, the Chicago group seceded and formed the American Steel Treaters Society. In 1920 the local chapters were reunified into the new American Society for Steel Treating (ASST). The society expanded its technical scope beyond steel during the 1920s. In 1933 it became the American Society for Metals (ASM). Gradually the society expanded its geographic scope beyond the U.S. and its technical scope beyond metals to include other materials. It became known as ASM International in 1986. As of 2015, ASM claims 29,000 members worldwide.