Things you need to know about first article inspection

When you come across any product manufacturing unit, they all conduct a process called a first article inspection. It is the assessment done by the suppliers, manufacturers who evaluate the quality of the initial and the first sample or the first article of the product. They will check if the initial sample is exactly like the given specification or not and all the properties of the specific product match.

Hence, a first article inspection is the most common way to find out about product suppliers. Though it is called a first article inspection, it is checking any random sample of the items manufactured. They usually check the sample of 3 items from the first run and then they decide on whether to continue the production or not. The first article inspection needs to be done early in the process of production and then this helps them to prevent any wastage of time and money. Apart from that, the FAI needs to be done when there is mass production. This is because the sample run doesn’t involve the realistic setup rather it involves the set up mainly for the sample production. Hence, for proper quality management of the production, first article inspection is necessary.

What is the main purpose of the First Article Inspection?

There are a few companies like 3D engineering who help in FAI, and the companies perform the pre-production sample run as the first article inspection. Well, the main purpose of the FAI is to provide the supplier and the buyer the report of the manufacturing process that is specific to the product in the question. It is quite a significant process of the overall quality management process. Apart from that, it is giving an objective measurement and the formal method of verifying the design.

This process is included in the contract between the manufacturer and the buyer as this a mutually beneficial work. It can help the buyers to ensure the products are great and up to the expectations and the requirements while the suppliers can continue to mass produce the item. 

What are the most common things of a product that are inspected?

When you do the FAI, there are a few aspects of a product that are assessed. They include the weight, the density, the physical properties like the stiffness and the finish, the color, the distance between the edges and the positions and shapes of different holes in the item. They check the article in detail and the FAIR (First Article Inspection Report) should have the process and the outcomes of every parameter that took to make the item. They will have to check whether or not to suppliers’ tools are enough for mass production and other things.

When should the FAI take place?

To make the FAIR, the FAI should take place when the manufacturer is making use of the tools and the equipment that will be used throughout the mass production. The staff working in the factory should be working throughout the mass production or the production of the order. The materials and the components are the same and they will be used throughout the process.

First Article Inspection is conducted in almost all the industries but it is the most important when it is required in those industries where attention to detail and specifications are necessary that even a small change can lead to major repercussions. Hence industries like military, defense, aviation, electronics, and medical devices need the FAI to be performed.

How is it carried?

Now that we know how essential the FAI is in industrial manufacturing, here is the process flow:

First, you need to understand that though they are an important part of quality management, they are not the only part. There are several other factors in the quality management process of industry or manufacturing. You have a certain outline as to how this happens like there are a few pre FAI steps lie sampling, outlining of the steps, etc. These steps are followed after the successful FAI or an unsuccessful FAI.

Then once the outlining is done, documenting of these processes is done and the process flows of the inspection should look like you have ensured that all the basics are covered. It should also look as if the FAI is well documented.

The process flow includes the roles and the different responsibilities of the buyer and the supplier and what each party does at the different stages of the FAI. Then, outlining all the steps is done so that there are no mistakes made and every single aspect is covered.


Hence, the critical part of the FAI is to determine the sample size. That completely depends on the level of accuracy and the confidence you want to have in the FAI. There is a lot of information online about the sample sizes. Again, there is 3D engineering PVT Ltd which can help you know more about the FAI properly. Head out to them if you want to know more.

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