First Article Inspection, or FAI, is one of the main methods to inspect and test products in the early stages of manufacturing.  At the beginning of the process, the product is designed and tests are run to ensure that the product will ultimately meet the needs of the customer. Once it is determined that the product is ready to be produced, the first article is manufactured and then tests are run on this article to determine the quality, safety, reliability, and effectiveness of the actual product.

FAI refers to comparing the actual physical produced product against the specifications with which it was made.  These specifications can be in the form of:
  • A detailed drawing
  • A 3D model
  • Written specifications

As the first product is examined and compared to the design specs, a list is created which shows which of the products dimensions were successfully met by the manufacturers and which of the dimensions were not.  It is a rule that any dimension that is present on the design must appear on the FAI list. For a simple part, this list might not be very long, but for a complex part, this list can be very lengthy, technical, and involved.  First article inspection software streamlines this process and ensures that the creation of this list is as efficient as possible.

Why do manufacturers pause production while FAI is performed?

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 FAI is not performed, these critical products could be installed in the end product, which could potentially endanger the lives of many people. First article inspection software can increase the speed of the FAI process by 50% in some cases.

First article inspection software is implemented in the many important industries such as:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Medical

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