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Tech Showcase: An In-Depth Look at Borescopes

March 30, 2009
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Industrial borescopes are divided into three general subgroups: rigid borescopes, flexible borescopes and videoscopes. Many industries use borescopes to ensure product quality without having to destroy a part in periodic testing. Borescopes also are used in equipment maintenance programs, eliminating the need for teardowns when checking for in-service defects.

When determining which borescope is appropriate for a given application, consider the workpiece factors such as possible defect size, entry port size and area needing inspection. Environmental factors such as working temperature and pressure will determine the level of robustness required from a borescope.

Rigid borescopes are generally used when the path between the operator and the area being inspected is a straight line. The basic components of a rigid borescope are a tubular shell, eyepiece, optical lens, viewing head and light source. An optical train consisting of the objective lens, relay lens and eyepiece lens brings the image to the operator. The viewing head determines the direction of the view; common viewing head designs are right angle, circumference, bottoming, forward oblique and retrospective. Illumination is achieved by either an incandescent lamp or fiber optics.

Flexible borescopes, or fiberscopes, are generally used when the path between the operator and the area being inspected is not a straight line. The basic components of a flexible borescope are fiber bundles, objective lens, protective sheath, eyepiece lens, focus and diopter ring, articulation controls, and an auxiliary light source.

A flexible borescope can have as many as 40,000 glass fibers, each consisting of a central core of optical glass coated with a layer of cladding of a different glass with a different reflective index. Each flexible borescope will contain two bundles of fibers. One connects with the light source and illuminates the object under inspection, and the other brings the image to the eyepiece. Both bundles are housed in a protective conduit of flexible stainless steel. Flexible borescopes will usually have an articulating tip, adjustable objective lens and a choice of viewing heads.

Videoscopes, incorporating a probe, video processor and display, can be rigid or flexible. An electronic sensor at the tip of the probe transfers the image electronically to the processor. Besides producing video images, videoscopes can produce still images as well, and images can be recorded for review or permanent documentation. Furthermore, software packages for use with videoscopes help streamline inspection through their ability to automate reporting and store data to a centralized database.

What follows are borescope product offerings available today.

Gradient Lens Corp. (www.gradientlens.com) introduces the Hawkeye Pro -flexible borescope. The high-resolution, 18,000-pixel borescope delivers sharp, bright, high-contrast images. The kit contains a two-way articulating borescope, portable SuperNova light and charger, and aluminum carrying case. The borescope is available in diameters of 3, 4 and 5 millimeters.

GenScope (www.genscope.com) introduces the Micro GenScope line, which includes the MicroFlex, Micro SemiRigid and MicroRigid scopes. The MicroFlex has a fused quartz fiber optic image bundle that provides crisp, bright images. This small-diameter scope moves easily through narrow turning channels in turbine blades, fuel injection systems, hydraulics, injector nozzles and compressors.

The MicroRigid has a solid glass rod lens that runs the entire length of a stainless steel probe. It offers high image quality and straight in-line access to the inspection area for observing fine cracks, sharp edges and minute defects. The scopes attach to digital video documentation systems. Both designs also use the same interchangeable quick focusing eyepiece that adjusts to the operator’s vision.

Danatronics (www.danatronics.com) introduces the BoresEye Series of handheld video borescopes with still and video recording capabilities. The BoresEye 2010 has a 5.5-millimeter diameter camera with interchangeable lengths from 1 to 30 meters, while the BoresEye 2020 uses the same 1.17-inch waterproof charge-coupled device (CCD) camera used in the company’s ForeEyes product line. Both systems have a 3.5-inch screen, memory card and 3.5 hours of battery life.

Karl Storz (www.karlstorzindustrial.com) introduces the Techno Pack XT videoscope. Recessed wheels, a retractable handle and light weight make the videoscope suited to on-the-go inspections. A touchscreen, VGA monitor provides on-site image manipulation and measurement. The monitor is on a swivel mount attached to a telescoping support for viewing from any angle.

In addition to the videoscope and monitor, the system comes with storage for four viewing tips, a CD/DVD drive, an integrated light source and storage for a battery.

Olympus (www.olympus-ims.com) introduces the Iplex FX IV8635X1 videoscope with object retrieval tools. Also available is the IV8000-2, which adds functionality to the Iplex FX base unit.

The industrial videoscopes are fully dust-proof, rainproof and drop-proof up to 1.2 meters. They also have a compact body about the size of a small computer bag.

The IV8635X1 has object retrieval tools that can attach to the end of the scope. In addition to performing conventional tasks such as visual inspection and measurement, the tools increase the versatility of the scope, enabling the operator to retrieve foreign or fallen objects.

The IV8000-2 is equipped with an outdoor-use, daylight-view LCD monitor, which can display clear images even under strong sunlight. The addition of ImageNotepad to the IV8000-2 also enables the operator to enter comments on recorded images for the creation of reports.

Advanced Inspection Technologies (www.aitproducts.com) introduces the iTool, a 4-millimeter videoscope designed to fit deep inside almost any small space. Applications include finished parts; rotating machinery; turbines; automotive; small diameter piping; castings; manufacturing; nondestructive testing; quality; and power generation, petrochemical and processing plants.

The videoscope provides high-quality imaging with easy tip manipulation, digital recording and annotation. The videoscope is standard with a rugged tungsten insertion tube for maximum durability.

Borescopes-R-Us (www.borescopesrus.com) introduces a portable videoscope for performing visual inspections in hard-to-reach areas. Its lightweight, handheld design allows it to be carried anywhere, providing solutions when and where they are needed. The videoscope has two-way articulation and is available in 4.2-, 6- and 8-millimeter diameters. The rechargeable battery pack allows for up to 8 hours of inspections. In addition, the unit can be customized to fit specific inspection needs.

Testo Inc. (www.testousa.com) introduces the 318-V inspection scope with video output in both a 42-inch shaft and a longer 72-inch shaft version. The 6-foot shaft has a miniature imaging sensor housed in a 0.4-inch diameter aluminum tip that resists most solvents, including oil and water. The scope allows operators to view 320- by 240-pixel images on a 2.5-inch, full-color LCD screen. The scope is well suited to examining hard-to-reach areas normally hidden from sight and can be used for the internal inspection of furnaces, heat exchangers and ducts.

Titan Tool Supply Inc. (www.titantoolsupply.com) introduces the Model TFS4-720 articulating borescope. It offers a high-resolution, 17,000-element optical fiber imaging bundle and an objective end tip that can be deflected more than 120 degrees in either two-way or four-way articulation via a control knob next to the eyepiece housing. This lets the operator position the borescope for viewing around elbows and bends in the work piece. The borescope has a direct photo adaptable C mount, enabling connection to an industrial video camera without the need for an additional video coupler.

Schoelly Imaging (www.schoelly-inc.com) introduces the Explorer MP600, a mobile videoscope system. The videoscope has an integrated 50-watt metal halide light source and a 10.4-inch TFT/LCD flip-up monitor. Operator controls include white balance, light intensity, gain, window-function, image zoom and image rotation. Storage of video files and still images in JPEG format with an SD card are standard. A small 5.6-inch TFT monitor can be clipped on to the videoscope head, providing an ergonomic approach in difficult conditions. Videoscope probe lengths up to 7 meters are available with standard four-way articulation.

Machida Inc. (www.machidascope.com) introduces the VSC-3-140-N videoscope. The videoscope has a 3-millimeter outer diameter and mini HD technology. The control body has four function buttons that allow for 12 programmable features. LED technology provides pure white light and brightness control. A 15-inch flat screen monitor offers wide field of view, gain control, high-definition and picture-in-picture viewing. The unit comes with a keyboard and offers portable image archiving and image enhancement that ranges from low to high resolution.

GE Sensing & Inspection Technologies (www.geinspectiontechnologies.com) introduces the XL Go videoscope. Weighing 3.8 pounds, it is appropriate for inspections in small, hard-to-reach places.

Powered by a lithium ion battery, the videoscope is cordless and has no tethers. Its compact design and shipping case is small enough that it can be classified as carry-on luggage. The system’s tungsten braided insertion tube has 360-degree articulation.

LED light is routed through a fiber optic bundle, projecting the inspection image onto a high-resolution LCD screen. Interactive operator menus make navigation intuitive.

Designed to withstand harsh environments, the videoscope is housed in impact-resistant polycarbonate, and makes use of double threaded optical tips to eliminate the risk of foreign object damage.

Inspection results are captured as high-resolution images or MPEG4 video for analysis or collaboration. USB data ports for flash memory thumb drives enable additional data storage.

ITI (www.scopes.com/V5+) introduces the V5+ videoscope. The videoscope has push-button operation and viewed images can be displayed on its 6.5-inch LCD screen or saved for later use on a flash drive. The interchangeable heads have four-way articulation and the working length of the scope is available from 6 feet to 25 feet. A pressure sensitive control panel minimizes operator fatigue. The videoscope is designed to reduce accidental probe damage, and the case is made to endure hostile manufacturing environments.

Qualitest (www.worldoftest.com) introduces the QualiEyes line of borescopes, which is comprised of a videoscope, the QualiEyes I, and a fiberscope, the QualiEyes II.

The QualiEyes I portable LCD videoscope has a 2.5-inch color LCD display, 300,000-pixel image sensor and an LED light source. The gooseneck insertion tube has a diameter of 0.39 inch and is 8.2 feet in length. The videoscope can operate for 48 hours under continuous use. Images can be stored and moved to a PC for further inspection. They also can be transmitted directly to an external monitor for group analysis of real-time images.

The QualiEyes II industrial fiberscope has a built-in LED light source, high-resolution image bundle and an optical system with a depth of observation between 1.2 inches and 5.9 inches, along with a working length of 51.2 inches. The built-in LED light source has a lifetime of 100,000 hours.

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