What is a First Article Inspection?

First article inspection, commonly referred to as FAI, is a leading means of inspecting and testing products in the early stages of production to save time and money later on in development—as well as to assure that products are manufactured to specifications and quality standards of the purchasing manufacturer and pose no safety risks.

The verb “first article inspection” is the act of comparing a physical sample production part with the specifications against which it was designed.

FAI standards call for the proper documentation and verification in detail of production methods including tooling, all the elements of development, material specifications, and testing processes & measurements. A first article inspection report serves as the record for the company and governmental required records. Typically the more complex the production part, the more complex the FAI process and documentation will be.

The basic information in an FAI report needs to include:

  • Dimensional Measurement
  • Specification Requirements
  • Product Part Number and Name
  • Detailed Statistical Analysis
  • Design Characteristics

First article inspection is routinely practiced in the aerospace industry, automotive industry, and the medical industry, which require such quality control inspections before the manufacturing process can begin. These industries must follow stringent regulations to assure quality and safety and non-conformance could lead to costly corrective actions and lawsuits.

There are regulatory and standards bodies that work to define and evolve various quality requirements for different industries. Aerospace standards for example have a standard labeled AS9102 developed by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG).

In summary, many industries require an FAI report as part of the detailed verification of production before the on-going manufacturing workflow can begin.

Why Does The First Article Inspection Process Matter?

If something has gone wrong with the product or something needs to be changed in either the product design or the manufacturing process, all the products that had already been produced would be useless, and a waste of time, effort, and resources. If an FAI report is not performed, these critical products could be installed in the end product, which could potentially endanger the lives of many people.

A Proper First Article Inspection Report Will:

  • Allow for verification of drawings so they represent adjustments that were necessary for parts design.
  • Help verify the production process in a comprehensive manner that considers every parameter, not just aspects that are deemed “most critical.”
  • Verify that tooling is in the right condition and able to produce parts within defined specifications.
  • Ensure that fixed process documentation attachments are available.
  • Detail customer approvals.
  • Associate process certification with the correct revision levels.

The first article inspection report of one production part can often require 24 hours of labor by engineers and other technical professionals. By organizing the many aspects of a first article inspection, DISCUS FAI software can reduce the cost and time involved – and prevent errors along the way – helping companies streamline their production.First article inspection software by DISCUS can increase the speed of the FAI process by 50% in some cases.

The DISCUS Advantage

The DISCUS family of products is specifically designed to enable you to organize the Technical Data Package(s) TDP and capture the characteristic accountability of a part much more efficiently for the setup of the FAI.

DISCUS has a panel for analyzing and extracting characteristics from the drawing or model, as well as from the specifications. DISCUS generates the list of part-specific characteristics and creates associated ballooned drawings.

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In addition, it facilitates AS9102 first article inspection, PPAP, and Part 820 compliance. DISCUS allows you to assemble your CAD 3D models, ballooning, specs, and related GD&T documents; identify characteristic requirements, and manage them at a detailed level. DISCUS enables you to export to an AS9102 first article inspection excel spreadsheet, which can also be customized for each of your customer’s needs.

In other words, it can consolidate and organize all your information, saving you time and money, all while providing the most efficient way to generate customer FAI reports electronically.

DISCUS FAI Software

Naturally, the FAI solution starts with DISCUS Desktop, but it can be further configured to meet your specific business situation.

For example, if you are providing reports to a customer’s web-based FAI quality management system, you may be interested in adding DISCUS Results to enable your team to be more efficient. If you have customers that are sharing CAD 3D models, you may be more interested in adding the DISCUS 3D Data Management module to maximize your FAI productivity. The use of DISCUS for FAI has reduced the time involved for FAI by upwards of 50%.

The most common solutions for FAI reports consist of selected DISCUS modules packaged into bundles:

  • 2D FAI Suite – DISCUS Desktop with DISCUS OCR and DISCUS Results add-ons
  • 3D FAI Suite – DISCUS Desktop with DISCUS 3D add-ons

You can learn more about the specific DISCUS modules on the Products page, and you can review the pricing for the discounted bundles on the Pricing page.

Experts in Multiple Industries

DISCUS First article inspection software is used within many important industries such as:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Medical
  • Military

In each of these industries, it is very important and crucial that the inspection process of FAI be efficient and accurate.

Contact DISCUS

With the importance of FAI software and the advantages that you get from using DISCUS, why not try a trial version today? We have years of experience helping close to 1,000 customers achieve FAI success.
More questions? Contact us today!