How to Select the Right Microscope or Video Inspection System

Choosing the right inspection system for your application can be a daunting task. For industrial applications 3 types of inspection systems are generally used. This guide describes these systems, their common applications along with pros & cons.

Stereo Zoom Microscope

The stereo zoom microscope is the most commonly used microscope in industrial applications. A stereo scope generally consists of a main objective lens, two eyepieces for viewing with a magnification range that tend to top out at 200x.

Common applications:

  • Multiple types of precision assembly work including but not limited to soldering, medical device manufacturing, and laboratory use.

Pros:

  • Larger working distances allow user to work with tools (soldering iron, cutters etc.) under the microscope.
  • Live 3-D view and excellent depth of field making precision assembly easier.
  • Low first cost.

Cons:

  • Image Capture and Digital Measurements are not possible.
  • Eye fatigue from constant use
  • Limited Magnification Range generally up to 200x

Trinocular Stereo Zoom Microscope Inspection System

This system features a stereo zoom microscope as described above, with an additional third port to support a camera for image capturing. The camera can then be connected to a computer (USB Type Cameras) or directly to a monitor (VGA, SXGA, HDMI type cameras).

Common Applications:

  • Assembly applications that do not require constant 3-D image with large depth of field.
  • Assembly applications where image capture and measurement may be necessary.
  • Quality Inspection where some assembly/rework/repair may be necessary.

Pros:

  • 3-D View visible when working underneath the scope along with additional 2-D Screen monitor view that helps to reduce eye fatigue. No eyepieces required for this view.
  • Image Capture and Measurement capabilities when paired with a USB/Digital Camera.

Cons:

  • Loss of 3-D Depth of Field when viewing on Monitor
  • Higher first Cost then Stereo Zoom Microscope

Video Lens Inspection System

Systems consist of a single lens paired with an USB/HDMI/Analog camera attached to a monitor or computer. Systems can be built piece by piece or are pre-configured and pre-assembled like the Aven Mighty Scope or Cyclops. Magnification ranges for video inspection systems can go up to 3000x.

Common Applications:

  • Quality Inspection and Documentation
  • Performing Measurement and other analysis when paired with USB Camera
  • High Magnification Applications
  • Light Assembly work at low magnifications

Pros:

  • Versatile systems that can be configured in multiple ways to provide a wide range of magnifications.
  • Easy Image Capture and Analysis when paired with USB Camera
  • Significantly reduces eye fatigue when used in lieu of traditional microscope.
  • Priced for almost any budget

Cons:

  • 2-D only image that significantly reduces Depth of Field at higher magnification when compared to a traditional stereo microscope.
  • When paired with USB Camera image may “lag” when moved.

When considering an inspection system that is right for you, evaluate your specific application needs, budget allocation and comfort levels. Before investing in a system it may be helpful to consult with a supplier specializing in optical instruments and professional tools, such as Aven founded in 1983.