Defects and Defectives


In order to ensure that products are thoroughly inspected and free from defects and defectives, organizations implement a comprehensive quality assurance process.  In addition, they also implement effective quality control techniques that are essential to identify and address defects and defective items in products.

Defects and defectives are terms commonly used in quality control and manufacturing processes. While they may sound similar, they have distinct meanings. Let’s explore their differences.


A defect is a specific instance of non-conformance to a requirement or specification. It represents a single flaw or error in a product or process that renders it unacceptable or outside the desired limits. For example, if you are manufacturing a product, a defect could be a scratch on the surface, a missing component, or any deviation from the customer’s expectations.


A defective refers to a unit or item that contains one or more defects. In other words, a defective entity (product, service, or process) fails to meet the required quality standards. A single defective can have one or more defects, counted as a single unit, regardless of how many defects it contains. It’s important to remember that one defective is equivalent to one unit with one or more defects.

Differences between defects and defectives

Difference between defects and defectives

Statistical formulas to calculate defect rates

In statistical quality control, several formulas are used to calculate defects and defectives. The two commonly used measures are Defects per Unit (DPU) and Defects per Million Opportunities (DPMO). Let’s explore these formulas:

1. Defects per Unit (DPU): DPU is a measure that calculates the average number of defects per unit inspected or produced.

DPU = (Total number of defects)/(Total number of units inspected or produced)

For example, if you inspected 100 units and found 20 defects, the DPU would be 20/100 = 0.2 defects per unit.

2. Defects per Million Opportunities (DPMO): DPMO is a measure that calculates the number of defects per million opportunities. An opportunity is a chance for a defect to occur, such as a specific step or feature in a process.

DPMO = (Total number of defects)/(Total number of units inspected or produced) x (1,000,000/Total number of opportunities)

For example, if you inspected 100 units, found 20 defects, and each unit had 10 opportunities for defects, the DPMO would be (20/100) x (1,000,000/10) = 200,000 DPMO.

These formulas help quantify the level of defects or defectives in a process and allow for comparison and analysis of quality performance.


To summarize, defects are individual flaws or imperfections found in a product or service, whereas defectives refer to the total number of units or items that do not meet the required quality standards. Defects are specific issues within an item, while defectives represent the entire units that are defective.

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