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From Macro to Micro: How Digital Microscopes are Changing Industrial Inspections

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Digital microscopes producing a field of view of 22 mm down to 42 µm

Space is at a premium in the lab, so a system that can perform as several microscopes in one is essential. Today’s digital microscopes do just that, offering a magnification range that’s capable of producing a field of view of 22 mm down to 42 µm. This ‘macro to micro’ capability makes it easy to observe samples under low magnification to view features in context before inspecting a small area under high magnification to see the details. Combined with a user-friendly interface, even a novice is capable of quickly and easily achieving results using just one instrument.


The capabilities of digital microscopes extend beyond just a wide magnification range—adding motorized components to the microscope extends the system’s functionality even further. For larger samples that extend beyond your system’s field of view, you can quickly and easily capture images of the entire sample using the stitching function and a motorized X, Y, Z stage. The result is a fully focused, high-resolution image you can use to show larger features of interest or provide context for further analysis.


Staying on the same microscope system and moving to a higher magnification, it’s possible to move to any point on the sample just by clicking on the macro image, eliminating the need to re-find defects if you were to switch from one system to another or having to rely on complicated coordinate methods. Whether you’re interested in examining surface roughness, micron-sized defects, structural features, or something else, our digital microscopes come equipped with a range of conventional optical techniques and advanced image processing capabilities, such as high dynamic range (HDR), to enhance surfaces and contrast.

One example of a type of inspection that’s often challenging for conventional microscopes but digital microscopes excel at is working with polished samples. On upright microscopes, polished samples are often disregarded since they’re usually not perfectly planar and horizontal, making it difficult to level the sample so that its surface is at a right angle to the microscope’s optical access. Consequently, inverted microscopes, where the sample naturally lies at a right angle to the axis of the microscope, is preferred. However, when using digital technology and motorized components, it’s possible to compensate for the limitations of upright microscopes, opening up the possibilities for additional fields of analysis.

Advanced analysis

Integrating digital microscopes with advanced image analysis software further enables you to customize the instrument. Using standard operating procedures and the guided operation functions available in our DSX series digital microscopes, doing your work is easier than ever. Now, even users with relatively little training can engage in many types of analyses, from grains analysis to sophisticated particle classification.

Check out these examples showing how a single digital microscope system can tell the whole story.

A macro image of an automobile badge. The round features are bumps.
A macro image of an aluminum badge. The round features are bumps.
Looking more closely at one of the bumps.
Looking more closely at one of the bumps.

An image of the bumps surface taken at 5000x magnification.
An image of the bumps surface taken at 5000x magnification.
A 3D map of one of the bumps.
A 3D map of one of the bumps.

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Digital Microscope Application: Inspection of Chipped Gears

Product Applications Manager, Olympus Corporation of the Americas, Scientific Solutions Group

A member of the Olympus team since 2016, Hamish provides product and application support for Olympus industrial microscope systems throughout the Americas. He is an expert in inspection applications, image analysis, measurement, and reporting, as well as custom optical solutions, with an emphasis on technical cleanliness and semiconductor equipment.

October 2, 2018
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