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Opto-digital microscopy in quality assurance materials testing

Olympus Europa Holding : 21 May, 2014  (New Product)
The Olympus DSX500 opto-digital light microscope has transformed the way Dortmund-based SGS Institut Fresenius GmbH (a subsidiary of the SGS Group) undertakes a diverse range of quality assurance tasks in the automotive, aerospace and medical technology sectors.
SGS Group specialises in materials testing. One of the company’s projects, the quality control of carbon-fibre reinforced polymer parts for the new BMW i3 electric car, involved the preparation and examination of 300 micrographs.
These advances have been made possible thanks to the operating simplicity of the DSX500, together with its automated image stitching capability. The DSX500 works with an astonishing degree of accuracy when overlaying individual images and unlike other microscopes, single frames no longer have to be defined manually – with a motorised table controlled by a fully automated, high-precision fine adjustment mechanism. This feature has reduced the time of large-scale micrograph acquisition from 20 minutes down to just 5 minutes and is ideal for the detailed inspection of a large range of sample types, even those with regular features, such as memory chips, where multiple locations are repeated and it is difficult to determine where the first frame ends and the next begins, even at high magnifications. "The previous manual process of composing the image was very time-consuming - the DSX has reduced that time greatly,” said SGS analyst Markus Ridder.
The microscope generates a selection of preview images from which users can choose the most suitable imaging method. Selecting the method automatically selects the necessary parameters without having to input additional information. Users are never in danger of losing orientation on the specimen, even when the image is reduced in size or enlarged, as the Macro Map function always displays the viewpoint on-screen. Inspection is also facilitated with a 13x optical zoom and a 30x digital zoom.
The team at SGS often investigate very homogeneous-looking micrographs of turbine blades from aircraft engines for potential material inclusions. When the magnifications are relatively high, it is not that challenging for a metallographer to hunt for possible irregularities, and the intuitive user interface of the DSX500 also enables fast configuration for efficiently detecting possible material faults. Specialised functions of the microscope, such as the High Dynamic Range (HDR) and the proprietary WiDER algorithm, provide outstanding options for inspecting objects with defects or extreme differences in reflectance.
Defect Sample Image
The microscope's LED illumination allows brightfield and darkfield observation methods to be combined, enabling the easy detection of defects or irregularities. The Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) function has also become greatly valued, allowing uneven surfaces to be analyzed for defects or irregularities down to the micro-scale. One customer in the dental technology field commissioned SGS to analyse material separation between two plastic parts.
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