Nikon Metrology

High-Quality Inspection with the ShuttlePix Portable Microscope

Microscopes, Nikon Metrology, Portable Metrology

Reprinted from Quality Magazine

The ShuttlePix P-400R Digital Microscope from Nikon Metrology is a portable digital microscope that has a sleek, compact design well suited for onsite use. This new concept in digital microscopy allows for much simpler remote inspection of large samples that previously had been too challenging.

Operators can use the ShuttlePix for inspection, observation, simple measurement and recording of high-resolution images in industrial applications, as well as other practical imaging applications where an object needs to be inspected on site and in its correct position without risk of damage.

Launched opening day at Chicago’s IMTS 2010 show in September, the microscope comes with a built-in four section LED oblique ring light that allows the observer to capture images without shadows by optimizing the light output. It can be operated on a Lithium-ion battery for handheld use. The cordless design allows the operator to bring the microscope to large samples, such as turbine castings, aircraft frames or pipe work that cannot be reached with conventional microscopes.

The technology can be used for a broad range of inspection tasks in aerospace, electronics, automotive, biomedical and other industries.

“The ShuttlePix is truly a portable microscope that can be easily used handheld, which enables the microscope to be brought to locations where conventional microscopes could not be taken,” says Koji Kiribuchi, marketing manager, vision products, Nikon Metrology.

“Previously, samples that were either too large, remote, or part of a large structure had to be sampled, cut or cross-sectioned in order to be analyzed under the microscope. The ShuttlePix enables a nondestructive analysis of samples. Additionally, the ShuttlePix can be used on the production floor without disrupting the manufacturing process. Prior to this, samples had to be brought to QA/QC testing labs, where the microscopes were typically stationed,” says Kiribuchi.

The ShuttlePix is equipped with a 2.5-inch LCD monitor where the operator can frame, focus and capture images.  Images are then saved to SD memory cards to be displayed on a PC for further analysis. The ShuttlePix also features 20x zoom optics, and operators are able to achieve a 20x to 400x magnification range without having to change the objective lens.

The microscope is very easy to operate. Just by holding down the capture button, a “best-shot selector” automatically starts up and saves only the best shot from a string of continuously shot images. There is also automatic selection of optimal camera mode based on the sample. Previous experience with using a microscope is not necessary, since the ShuttlePix operates the same way as a compact digital camera.

Kiribuchi says that Nikon’s ability to bring over its advanced optical technology, combine it with their advanced digital image process technology and package it in a very compact stylish design is one of the key features that makes the portable microscope so innovative.

A motorized focusing stand controller accompanies the ShuttlePix in combination with a 17-inch touch screen monitor that has motorized Z focusing, simple measurement analysis, extended depth of focus (EDF) and three types of stage options for a multitude of applications. Its application software offers 3-D image reconstruction and measurement.

In response to a growing demand for a truly portable microscope that could magnify samples and record and save images as digital files, Nikon started product development two years ago and will start shipping the ShuttlePix in December 2010.

So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Nikon Metrology has received numerous inquiries from potential customers for a multitude of applications and inspection tasks, as well as for personal use. ShuttlePix P-400R will be available individually as a cordless microscope, or as a system unit by adapting onto the motorized focusing stand controller.

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