First Article Inspections: What Engineers Need to Know

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It’s also worth bearing in mind that you may need additional first article inspections if your initial one reveals something that’s not 100-percent compliant with the drawing. In such cases, you’ll need to take corrective action, do another production run, and conduct another FAI.

When do you need a first article inspection?

Step 3: Select a sample
Although sample sizes may vary depending on product requirements and industry standards, ideally the sample should be selected randomly if possible.

Step 5: Record measured results
Document the measurements obtained during inspection and record the values for each characteristic or design requirement.

Each form includes fields (such as the part number, the date, and the signature of the person who completed the form) that are always necessary, and some that are conditionally required (such as the part serial number, the name of the raw material, or the tool identification number).

A first article inspection report (FAIR) consists of three forms plus a balloon or bubble drawing:
• Form 1—Part number accountability: Summarizes the part of the article that is being inspected (the FAI part) and its associated subassemblies or detail parts
• Form 2—Product accountability: Used for all raw materials, specifications, processes, and functional tests that are part of the design requirements
• Form 3—Characteristic accountability: Summarizes specific design characteristics, including dimensions, tolerances, and drawing notes, along with the actual measurement results of the FAI parts for design characteristics on the drawing

It’s important to remember that the goal of FAI is only to confirm that the product meets the specified dimensions and features according to the engineering drawing. In other words, FAI may be the first step in quality control, but it’s far from the last.

Step 6: Generate FAI report
Prepare the FAI report by filling out Forms 1, 2, and 3, as well as any accompanying balloon drawings.

A complete list of always required and conditionally required fields is included below:

First published July 13, 2023, on

منبع: balloon drawing supports Form 3, appending a uniquely numbered balloon to each design characteristic that corresponds to the characteristics’ numbers on Form 3. These balloons or bubbles identify the characteristics that the inspector needs to check when conducting the FAI.

Step 1: Identify the need for FAI
Determine whether you need a full or partial first article inspection, depending on whether you’re producing a new or revised part.

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In a nutshell: Whenever you’re either about to start production of a new part or you change something in the way an existing part is designed or manufactured, you ought to conduct a first article inspection. Additionally, you’ll need to conduct a (full) FAI if your customer requests one.

While many manufacturers still complete FAI reports on paper, there are also software tools and templates available that simplify and expedite the process. These include everything from Excel templates to CAD packages for automatically generating balloon drawings.

First article inspections are essential for ensuring that new and revised products conform to design specifications. By catching deviations and nonconformities early, they minimize the risk of defects and safety hazards in the final product. They aren’t always easy, but the transparency and accountability they provide can be a competitive advantage, fostering better customer relationships and overall satisfaction.

Step 2: Conduct first production run
Manufacture the part using the same materials, machines, processes, and tooling that will be used in mass production.

There are two types of FAI: full and partial. Full FAIs are required for new parts, new suppliers or facilities, or if the part hasn’t been manufactured in at least two years. A partial first article inspection—sometimes called a delta FAI—is required if there are changes to the part’s design or production process, including new materials, tooling, machines, or anything else that would potentially affect its fit, form, or function.

Published: Monday, August 7, 2023 – 12:03

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It’s been a long and arduous road, but you’re almost ready for that first production run. You made it through supplier selection, your designs and production processes have been finalized, preproduction is finished, and now there’s just one more hurdle to clear: first article inspection (FAI).

What is first article inspection?