This section provides overview, applications, and principles of video microscopes. Also, please take a look at the list of 16 video microscope manufacturers and their company rankings.
A video microscope is a microscope in the broad sense of the word, an instrument used to magnify an object for observation. However, the term video microscope generally refers to a video microscope equipped with a digital camera, and is distinguished from an optical video microscope. Compared to optical video microscope, video microscope have a deeper depth of focus and the ability to measure angles and lengths, which are their main features.
An optical video microscope have two lenses, an objective lens and an eyepiece, while video microscope have only an objective lens, and the part corresponding to the eyepiece lens is a digital camera. This can be said to be the most significant difference between an optical video microscope and a video microscope. Video microscope usually project the observed object on a monitor.
Various models are available from various manufacturers, with magnifications ranging from several times to several thousand times.
Video microscopes are used not only for magnifying and observing objects, but also for various evaluations and analyses based on the obtained image data.
Video microscopes has been introduced in various fields such as the automotive and aviation industries, the electronic device industry, the medical and cosmetic industries, and the chemical and material industries, and are used in a wide range of applications from research and development to quality assurance.
For example, in failure analysis of electronic components, video microscopes can be used to inspect the appearance of IC chips, analyze failures of defective products, inspect foreign objects and analyze the size and shape of foreign objects found.
In video microscope, an object is magnified by an optical lens (objective lens), and the part that corresponds to the human eye in optical video microscopes are a digital camera. The image magnified by the optical lens is detected by the image sensor and the image is projected on a monitor.
The magnifying power of optical video microscopes are expressed as the product of the magnifying power of the objective lens and the eyepiece. In the case of video microscopes, however, the size of the monitor and the size of the image sensor of the camera affect the magnifying power, which is different from the concept of magnifying power of an optical video microscopes. video microscopes magnification is also expressed as the product of the magnification of the objective lens and the magnification of the monitor. The magnifying power of the monitor is calculated by dividing the monitor size by the image sensor size.
In addition to magnification, resolution, or the ability to distinguish details, is necessary to observe an object in greater detail. If the resolution is not sufficient, the observed image will be blurred and details cannot be observed clearly. In the case of video microscopes, the resolution of the objective lens, the resolution of the optical lens of the digital camera, the resolution of the image sensor, and the resolution of the monitor affect the resolution.
It is necessary to select a model that provides optimal magnification and resolution according to the object to be observed and the purpose. In order to meet user requirements for these advanced resolution processing capabilities, 4K monitor type images have recently been introduced.
One of the applications of video microscopes are in dentistry. By taking advantage of the focusing function of video microscopes, it is possible to observe minute affected areas that are difficult to detect with the naked eye.
In particular, when performing root canal therapy, which is the complete removal of caries, the video microscopes are used to increase the visibility of the healer and to remove as much of the affected area as possible. The naked eye is limited in its ability to see the affected area, and there is a risk of leaving the area undone due to oversight.
The use of video microscopes improves the quality of treatment and reduces the risk of recurrence due to left-over areas. However, it should be noted that dental treatment using video microscopes are, in principle, not covered by insurance and must be paid for out-of-pocket.
Video microscopes are also used for cosmetic-related treatments and diagnoses, such as cosmetic surgery and scalp checkups. By looking at the skin under microscopic magnification, it is possible to determine the condition of the affected area by observing the dryness of the skin and the development of hairline.
Clients undergoing cosmetic surgery can also gain a sense of satisfaction from the medical examination by being able to check the condition of their own skin and scalp on the screen. It also motivates the client to improve the condition.
video microscopes are nowadays often used for detailed analysis of the inside of electronic components and semiconductor ICs down to a few microns, replacing scanning electron microscopes (SEM), which require observation in a vacuum. For this purpose, for practical use, it is necessary to increase magnification and resolution by orders of magnitude from a few millimeters to a few microns during the course of observation.
This operation requires changing the objective lens as in optical video microscopes, but some video microscopes in recent years have built-in automatic rotation for lens change and automatic focusing function for lens change, making this process almost fully automatic.
In terms of image processing, there are now highly functional types that can combine images with high magnification into a single large image by arranging them vertically and horizontally like tatami mats, and that can process an object into a three-dimensional (3D) image by utilizing the image focus adjustment function.
There are examples where video microscopes are used to check the wiring of semiconductor ICs and to analyze internal defects in electronic components by combining these functions.
The price of video microscopes varies depending on their applications and performance. Video microscopes with a narrow range of magnification and field of view start at around 10,000 yen, while those used for beauty molding or simple inspection of the scalp are priced around 50,000 yen, and those used for medical purposes are in the 100,000 yen or more range.
Furthermore, video microscopes such as those used for product inspection in the manufacturing industry, such as semiconductor manufacturing, require high magnification and micron-level high-definition, high-resolution image display, so the price range is generally in the several million yen range.
Low latency screen display and high frame rate are also important for use in surgery and treatment, but video microscopes with low latency and high frame rate tend to be priced higher. In addition, there are products on the market that allow the magnification of the display to be enlarged by changing the lens. In this case, the image processing capability is also advanced, and the price increases further due to the need for a dedicated monitor and sophisticated control software.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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