Hamish M. Rossell, Product Applications Manager, Industrial Microscopy Olympus America Inc., talks to AZoM about digital microscopes for automotive inspection applications.
Why are digital microscopes so important for automotive inspection?
Digital microscopy can provide repeatable, accurate, and fast inspection for failure analysis and quality control, and users can achieve excellent results with minimal training. This enables quality control to be seamlessly integrated across the manufacturing processes, improving the quality of the finished product to match the market’s ever-increasing demand, while minimizing rework or production halts.
How are digital microscopes used on a day-to-day basis in the automotive industry?
Microscopy is critical at almost every stage of the automotive manufacturing process. Some of the most common applications include grains analysis of metallurgical components to ensure performance, checking the quality of the surface finish on mechanical and aesthetic components such as the paint finish or interior trim, and verifying that critical safety features, like airbags, are properly manufactured. With the increasing use of exotic materials and adhesives, microscopic inspection has become a linchpin of the quality control process. Every year, safety and emission standards are made more and more stringent, requiring a higher level of scrutiny to ensure compliance.
Detecting and defining cracks is an important part of quality control when manufacturing and developing brake pads. What do Olympus DSX series digital microscopes offer in this area that other techniques don’t?
DSX series microscopes offer versatile lighting techniques combined with advanced optics and image analysis tools. For example, directional darkfield illumination is an excellent technique for spotting cracks, and this is standard on the DSX510 microscope. Directional darkfield and can be simultaneously combined with brightfield illumination to repeatably provide an image of the crack without losing sight of critical details.
Inspecting for burrs in piston cooling channels is another important quality control measure in the automotive industry. What are the challenges associated with this type of inspection?
Since the inspection is centered around a feature that has a significant depth change, viewing the entire channel, and any burrs, can be a challenge.
How can the DSX series from Olympus help the automotive industry gain a clearer picture of this?
DSX series digital microscopes offer advanced focal functionality to enable automatic focus extending from the top of the groove to the bottom, providing a clear view of the entire cooling channel. This technique can also produce a 3D image of the channel, making it possible to measure the cross section, volume, and so on.
What measurement and imaging options does the DSX series offer?
DSX microscopes offer a comprehensive set of two- and three-dimensional measurement tools, some of which I have already mentioned. These measurement tools are bolstered by the seamless integration of DSX microscopes with OLYMPUS Stream® image analysis software, enabling specialist measurement tools such as grains analysis, layer thickness, and advanced particle analysis. The imaging and measurement possibilities are truly extensive. For example, DSX microscopes can image in super HDR, employ WiDER® image processing to reduce glare, stitch together high-resolution images, and image large fields of view.
Why is this level of detail so important for automotive applications?
It’s easy to see that vehicles have come a long way in terms of design and performance in a short amount of time. As the complexity of internal combustion engines increases, so do the tolerances on the components. For example, a diesel injector on a modern vehicle has a nozzle diameter in the tens of microns. Furthermore, with the growth of hybrid and electric technologies, many of these same digital microscopic inspections relate to the complex electronics and sensors in these newer vehicles.
Image caption: A fractured metal component taken on a DSX 110
How do you plan on developing DSX digital microscopes moving forward?
The DSX series is under constant development, with new features being made available with every software iteration to meet the most up to date demands of the market. In addition, OLYMPUS Stream software, which integrates with DSX digital microscopes, is regularly updated to the latest standards to help ensure compliance.
Where can our readers learn more about the DSX series for automotive applications?
We’ve got several applications viewable on our website. We also are happy to provide on-site demonstrations—just get in touch!
About Hamish Rossell
A member of the Olympus team since 2016, Hamish provides product and application support for Olympus industrial microscope systems throughout the Americas. He is an expert in inspection applications, image analysis, measurement, and reporting, as well as custom optical solutions, with an emphasis on technical cleanliness and semiconductor equipment.
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