Advances in electronic imaging, including low-cost high-resolution image sensors and image processors combined with low-power, high-output, solid-state co-axial lighting have brought sophisticated visual inspection capabilities to laptop and pad-computing screens. No longer tied to the manufacturing floor or failure-analysis laboratory, USB-connected electro-optical microscopes’ size belies their capability: These visual-inspection systems continue to improve imaging resolution and measuring capability while maintaining price points that easily fit into any engineer’s or field-service technician’s tool budget.
That said, they don’t replace their multi-thousand-dollar larger siblings for ultra-high precision applications. The following images provide examples… (images courtesy JAS Technical Media)
1. Max microscope magnification at USB price points
Many small portable USB-connected microscopes, such as this example from Aven, are priced below $300 and pro-vide magnification ranges of 10 to 200x and beyond.
2. Inexpensive inspection has some tradeoffs
Inexpensive visual inspection systems provide on-screen measurement capabilities with resolutions to 10 microns but, without an optional polarizer, the small-radius co-axial LED lighting can give off glare.
3. Precision positioning for small scopes
Another small electro-optical microscope, this one from Dino-Lite, is available with a stand that makes precision positioning simple, intuitive, and ergonomic.
4. Color quality comparison
The color quality of co-axial illuminators varies from brand to brand. This model appeared to exhibit better color balance than others on display.
5. Wide-field workstations for measurement and acceptance test
For critical measurements and acceptance testing, there’s still no substitute for full-sized imaging workstation such as this wide-field unit from Keyence’s IM series.
6. 99 features, 1 micron resolution
These advanced visual-inspection systems can automatically measure 99 features with 1 micron resolution and ±2 micron accuracy without precision part placement or orientation. The system can also simultaneously measure multiple objects with random placements and orientations.