Quality Innovations: Digital Microscope

The DG-3 is powered by a lithium ion battery for 1.5 hours of continuous use. Source: ScalarScopes

The DG-3 Digital Microscope from Scalar Corp. (Tokyo) features a 3.5-inch LCD panel for easy viewing as well as measurement (micron) bars, which can be calibrated for each lens and embedded in the image. Preview mode allows the viewer to discard images before they are burned to the onboard memory card. In addition, a 2X button offers immediate digital magnification. Optional lenses cover a magnification range from 25X to 1,000X.

These features make the portable microscope valuable for quality control (QC) applications, according to Mitch Axsom, Scalar support coordinator. “The DG-3 provides QC professionals with a tool for saving magnified images quickly and easily,” Axsom notes. “For example, it can capture a stress crack before it ruptures and, of course, documentation is a critical part of QC. Also, this portable instrument serves as a microscope, digital camera and monitor, all in one. And, because it is digital, images can be sent via e-mail.”

The DG-3 is a 2.3-megapixel (Mp) microscope that offers portability to meet applications in the factory or the field. It is powered by a lithium ion battery for 1.5 hours of continual use; the battery recharges in the same amount of time. Images are saved to a memory card, which holds 580 images in Normal mode and 310 images in Fine mode. All images are high-resolution JPEGs.

Parfocal Zoom Lens

The instrument comes with a wide array of lenses, ranging from standard 30X to 100X, to high resolution 200X, 500X and 1,000X. The most popular lens for industrial QC is the 25X to 200X, parfocal zoom lens, according to Axsom. “A defect can be ‘bulls-eyed’ at 25X and then zoomed all the way to 200X without losing the defect,” he explains. “If one used a fixed 200X lens for this procedure, it would be difficult to place the scope directly on the defect. Secondly, it would be nearly impossible to scan an area, making sure the entire surface is covered. At 25X, one can scan quickly and then magnify further without changing a lens, saving both time and money.”

The DG-3 is an upgrade over the DG-1, launched in 1998, and the DG-2. The following features offer improvements over the previous models.

  1. The 2-inch LCD has grown to a 3.5-inch viewer. “There seems to be an exponential benefit to be able to see the images at this increased size,” Axsom says. The LCD panel also has video output, which allows viewing images on a monitor.

  2. The instrument can now “freeze” the image on the screen before it is saved to the memory card. As a result, the operator can eliminate unacceptable images prior to being saved; only the best are stored for later study. This saves time when images are stored on a computer for analysis or transmission.

  3. The DG-3 has measurement bars that can be viewed, while one is imaging, and burned into the images. Because of this capability, the instrument is being used to inspect painted surfaces for defects in auto and truck manufacturing facilities in the United States. It also is being used by technicians at Kennedy Space Center and at other aerospace facilities around the country.

Light weight and portability are other key attributes of the DG-3, Axsom notes. Also, because all functions are located on a keypad, instead of tucked away in menus, the instrument is reportedly easy to use. Because of its 2.3-Mp capability, the monitor can display 30 frames per second. Size is indicated by scale and magnification notations.

The DG-3 costs $5,780, which may be a negative issue in the eyes of some potential buyers, Axsom admits. However, potential cost savings is a positive factor.

The DG-3 is distributed in the United States by Scalarscopes (Baton Rouge, LA).

Technology Contact

For more information on the DG-3 Digital Microscope, contact:
LSU/LA Emerging Technology Center
340 E. Parker Dr.
Baton Rouge, LA 70894
(225) 615-8919
E-mail: mitch@scalarscopes.com
URL: www.scalarscopes.com

Quality Specs

  • The 2.3-megapixel microscope offers portability to meet applications in the factory or the field.

  • Preview mode allows the viewer to discard images before they are burned to the onboard memory card.

  • The LCD panel also has video output, which allows others to view images on a monitor.

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