Rigorous quality control measures are key to component performance. In some heavily regulated industries, mandates are in place for part specs and performance verification. Certified and accredited FAI and LAI services help businesses meet the necessary standards.
What Is First Article Inspection?
First article inspection is the process of confirming new or altered production processes live up to the specifications dictated in the engineering plans. It is typical in high-precision part manufacturing and involves pulling parts from the beginning of the production run for verification. The inspector then provides a first article inspection report to attest to the part’s specs and quality parameters.
Our First Article Inspection Services
Our highly trained technicians utilize the most appropriate inspection equipment to perform FAI such as:
- Contact Inspection using CMM – For high accuracy and automated inspection services, we would use our Zeiss Contura CMM.
- Non-Contact Inspection using Vision Inspection System – If your parts are delicate and fragile, we would employ our high-accuracy Vision System such as OGP Quest
- Non-Contact Inspection using Computed tomography (CT) scanning: We recently acquired a GOM CT Scanner. It is an X-Ray based system, which is ideal for inspection of very complex free-form parts such as ones produced using Additive Manufacturing or 3-D Printing. The scanner takes a series of x-ray images, which in turn are automatically and mathematically processed to create a precise 3-D image of the part. No need to cross-section the parts as we can see and measure external as well as internal features at the click of a button. Profile measurements and complex GD&T become very easy to measure using this tool.
These tools are used to provide the following services:
- Production part approval process (PPAP): Mainly used in the automotive industry, this process examines a group of parts for FAI, Process Capability Study, Gage R&R, Control Plans, etc. Our automated and programable inspection tools are the most cost-effective and accurate tools for this service.
- Capability studies: We use statistical analysis to assess process output as compared with customer requirements.
- Gage repeatability and reproducibility (Gage R&R): With this analysis, we can calculate variations in your measurement setup to determine its accuracy.
What Benefit Does FAI Offer?
The primary benefit of FAI is its ability to confirm your process’s validity, from materials and tools to manufacturing. When your FAI declares high-level accuracy between your design and the result, you can guarantee that your processes work as intended.
FAI can also improve the communication and relationship between the customer and the supplier. With verified design and process parameters, both parties know what to expect from the final product and will feel satisfied with the result.
When Should FAI Be Performed?
First article inspection is meant for the first run of a production process, but it can be useful after any changes that could affect product accuracy. Applicable circumstances could include:
- When you introduce a new part to the product line.
- A part reentering the product line after a hiatus of two years or more.
- Using a new manufacturing location.
- Testing a new supplier.
You may also choose to perform FAI at the customer’s request to guarantee they receive the accuracy they want from their parts.
What Is Last Article Inspection?
Last article inspection is the process of taking precise measurements of parts coming off the line at the end of production. These undergo comparison with the FAI reports for consistency. By ensuring the measurements are the same at the end, one can logically deduce every part in between meets the part’s exacting specifications.
Our Last Article Inspection Services
MicronPA uses the same superior quality equipment mentioned above to conduct our last article inspection. As part of our LAI services, you will receive last article inspection reports attesting that parts specifications and component quality match those called for in engineering drawings.
Benefits of Last Article Inspection
LAI has numerous benefits, including:
- Identifying the root cause of a nonconforming part.
- Verifying that any nonconformances are resolved.
- Establishing traceability.
- Increasing confidence in part conformity, especially in conjunction with the FAI or a new FAI following a production change.
When Should LAI Be Performed?
LAI is especially useful in manufacturing high-risk parts, and some customers specifically request it. Other cases where it’s helpful include:
- Changes in design during production. Altering a part’s specifications or materials in the middle of production can significantly impact the finished product.
- Repairs to the equipment or tools performed in the middle of a run. Replacing a machine component is often necessary but can affect the precision setup.
- Sample references for future runs. A conforming LAI sample serves as an example of quality in the subsequent production of the same part.
Turn to MicronPA for Your FAI and LAI Needs
MicronPA delivers comprehensive inspection services, including required first article inspection and last article inspection reports. We’re an accredited and certified provider with over 30 years of experience in calibration and assessment to meet complex and precise inspection needs.
As a York, PA-based business, we serve customers throughout the Keystone state, Maryland and Virginia. MicronPA is committed to fast turnaround, exceptional service and superior accuracy. Connect with us online for more information or a custom quote on FAI and LAI services.