First Article Inspection

NPC offers first article inspection services to help companies ensure their products are up to specific standards & to raise the level of overall quality control.

What is a First Article?

There are two types of “first articles.”
1. When a product of any kind is in the development stages, regardless of whether it is being designed for civilian or government use, it goes through several design iterations. When the design has been finalized and specifications for its manufacture finalized, the product must be manufactured for the first time using component parts designed for the purpose. The very first part (or assemblage of parts) to be manufactured is a “first article”.

2. When a company has an item that it needs manufactured, it requests bids from subcontractors who specialize in the type of manufacturing needed. Subcontractors will submit bids in which they demonstrate their ability to manufacture the item and give their pricing structure. The first item to be manufactured by any selected contractor will be a “first article.”

What is a First Article Inspection?

First Article Inspection (FAI) is a quality control process that is used in manufacturing to ensure that the first product off the production line meets all required specifications. The purpose of FAI is to verify that the design, engineering, and production processes are all working in harmony and that the resulting product is of the highest quality. This process involves a thorough examination of the first product produced, including its dimensions, materials used, and any special features or functions. FAI is often used in industries where safety and reliability are of paramount importance, such as aerospace, defense, and medical device manufacturing. By performing an FAI, manufacturers can identify and resolve any issues early on in the production process, thus reducing the risk of costly errors and delays down the line. Overall, First Article Inspection is an important step in ensuring that products are produced to the highest quality standards and meet all necessary requirements.
CMM ruby tip needle for first article inspection

Benefits of a First Article Inspection?

For any company that deals with manufacturing, quality control is a huge issue. Quality starts right with the initial product creation. FAI ensures that the quality of the product meets the required standards set by the customer or industry.
Companies find out upfront about any manufacturing flaws, issues with compliance, and quality problems. First article inspection helps to identify potential manufacturing issues early, which saves time and money in the long run by reducing the need for rework, scrap, or costly product recalls.
First article inspection services establish a baseline for all subsequent quality testing of a product by testing the very first article produced. This initial testing evaluates the actual dimensions of each measurement and checks every component against the drawings. Therefore, it is a more accurate and thorough inspection. 

First Article Inspection: Accreditation

Before an inspection body (a laboratory or other facility) can perform First Article Inspections, or indeed any type of inspection for clients, it must be inspected itself and awarded an accreditation. Nel PreTech is accredited by the highly regarded A2LA accreditation body.
These accreditation tests ensure that the inspection body
  • is competent to perform specific inspections or specific types of inspections; and
  • (has a) quality system (which is) is documented, fully operational and addresses and conforms to all elements of ISO/IEC 17025, IAF/ILAC A4 and A2LA official applications of these standards;
  • is operating in accordance to its quality system; and
  • conforms to any additional requirements of A2LA or specific fields or programs necessary to meet particular user needs.[1]
Regulatory Bodies
  • ISO: International Organization for Standardization
  • IEC: International Electrotechnical Commission
  • IAF: International Accreditation Forum
  • ILAC: International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation

International Organization for Standardization

The International Organization for Standardization is a standard-setting body with a headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  Membership is voluntarily and its members are recognized authorities on standards, each one representing one country. Most of the work of ISO (not an acronym, but actually the Greek word for “equal”) is done by 2,700 technical committees, subcommittees, and working groups.

Although ISO publishes technical reports, technical specifications, and guides, their main products are international standards.

These international standards are designated with the format ISO (and then either [/IEC] or [/ASTM] ) then a number [Innnnn[-p]:[yyyy] and a Title.

For example:  ISO/IEC 17025 General criteria for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection.

IEC stands for International Electrotechnical Commission and is included if the standard has been produced by the work of ISO/IEC JTC1 (the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee).

(Standards produced in conjunction with the ASTM would use that acronym.)

International Electrotechnical Commission

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a non-profit, non-governmental, international standards organization. It prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies, or electrotechnology.

Standards produced by the IEC cover a wide range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, semiconductors, fibre optics, batteries, solar energy, nanotechnology, and marine energy as well as many others.

The IEC also manages three global conformity assessment systems that certify whether equipment, system or components, conform to its International Standards.

International Accreditation Forum

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) is the world association of Conformity Assessment Accreditation bodies.

Its main function is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment in order to reduce the risk for business and its customers by assuring them that accredited certificates can be relied upon.

International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation

The International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), originally started as a conference tasked to develop international cooperation for the facilitation of trade by promoting the acceptance of accredited test and calibration results, was formally chartered in 1996 as a formal cooperation in order to establish a network of mutual recognition agreements among accreditation bodies to fulfill that goal. The end result is a free-trade goal of a certified once and accepted everywhere. [2]


Citations: [1] Inspection Body Accreditation Program, American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA)
[2] Accreditation: Facilitating world trade,

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