Insights from industry

Metal Inspection with Inverted Metallurgical Microscopes

Inspecting soft metals can be challenging due to scratches induced in the polishing process that may look like defects in the metals. Inverted Metallurgical Microscopes observe samples from underneath, enabling the user to inspect thick or heavy samples without adjusting the orientation of the sample surface. Marc Silverstein discusses the new GX53 microscope from Olympus, designed for the inspection and quality management of car parts and other metal components.

What are some of the current issues associated with inspecting polished metals?

Many soft metals such as gold and copper can be challenging to inspect. This is due to scratches induced in the polishing process that may look like defects in the metals. Poor sample illumination can further challenge an operator by making it difficult to see a sample’s details.

What are the limitations with conventional microscopy observation methods?

Until recently, users were limited to brightfield or darkfield observation. Brightfield observation provides light directly through the optical axis for brighter illumination. Darkfield observation allows the light to hit the sample from the side, providing more colour in the image and more contrast from the creation of shadows, exposing scratches and other defects. New illumination methods possible with the MIX illuminator now provide the best of both in a single image.

How does the GX53 deliver crisp images that can often be difficult to capture?

The Olympus UIS2 MPLFLN objectives are corrected for different types of aberrations and wavelengths of light to provide high-quality images. Additionally, the LED illumination of the GX53 provides consistent looking images at all light intensities.

Image Caption: GX53 Inverted Metallurgical Microscope and OLYMPUS Stream v. 2.3 image analysis software

What are the key features that have allowed you to streamline the inspection process and reporting?

Continuously improving the integration of hardware and software has allowed the inspection to continue to get easier, faster, and more reliable. Better software solutions make performing analysis easier while controlling the microscope hardware with the software helps ensure that each sample looks and is inspected the same way every time.

How has the MIX technology allowed you to reduce sample halation and enhance the surface texture?

MIX illumination, or what we have started calling directional darkfield, can be used to light a sample or specific field of view from up to 16 different positions. By merging the best of each of the 16 lighting combinations, we can see an integrated image that removes reflections to see more contrast and details in the sample.

Image Caption: Cross-section of a printed circuit board

What flexibility does the OLYMPUS Stream software offer to users?

OLYMPUS Stream software’s initial key feature is its integration with the hardware. By allowing the software to control, detect, and track the hardware configuration, users can be sure they get an optimized and consistent image of all their samples. OLYMPUS Stream software continues by offering both simple measurement tools like point to point and complex angle or circles along with guided solutions that walk users through complex ASTM and ISO standards. Finally, the software provides complete reporting with integration to MS Word, Excel®, and PPT for effectively communicating your results.

How has the GX53 microscope and OLYMPUS Stream software helped operators improve their sample analysis in line with industry standards?

Utilizing the guided solutions in OLYMPUS Stream software, there are over 20 international standards available for metallurgical inspection including ASTM, ISO, JIS, DIN, GB/T, and others.

What has been done to consider user comfort and ease of use?

Ergonomics is always considered in our microscope designs. Controls are located close to the user and near the front of the microscope, while options such as tilting observation tubes and long-handled stage controls continue to align the microscope with the user’s body. Utilizing software imaging and large monitors can eliminate the need to look directly into the microscope’s optics.

What industries have benefited from the GX53 microscope the most?

The GX53 is designed for the metallurgical market where metal samples are often flat and polished. The design of an inverted microscope allows the user to quickly put the sample on the microscope and find the focus of the image to start working faster. This microscope also works well for large and heavy samples due to reduced obstructions over upright microscopes.

What does the future hold of the GX53 microscope and metallurgical analysis?

The GX53 is a core foundation in metallurgical analysis. It provides a solid base where additional components and options could be added along with a steady platform for software integration.

Where can our readers learn more?

Readers can learn more by visiting our website -

About Marc Silverstein

Marc has worked for Olympus since 1998 and manages the operation of advanced industrial microscopes and imaging software systems. From design to launch, Marc plays an integral role in the development and support of today's newest optical metrology hardware and software.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

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