How Do I Choose the Best Fiber-Optic Viewer?

Jeremy Laukkonen

There are a few kinds of fiber-optic viewers, so selecting the best one can depend on certain factors. One of the most important considerations when selecting a fiber-optic viewer is image quality, which typically is determined by the number of fiber strands in the device. A higher number of strands can result in better image quality, although you also need to consider other factors, such as lens size. You also will need to choose between a rigid or flexible fiber-optic viewer, each of which can be best suited to particular applications. Rigid viewers can provide higher image quality, but a flexible unit is necessary if you require the ability to see around corners or bends.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Fiber-optic viewers are devices that can be used to perform inspections that would otherwise be impossible, difficult or require an object to be disassembled. An example of this from the automotive industry is the combustion chamber of an engine, which can be examined through spark plug tubes without taking an entire unit apart. Fiber-optic viewers are sometimes called borescopes because they can be used to perform inspections through small-diameter boreholes. Not all borescopes make use of fiber optics, though, and some have small video cameras instead.

When choosing a fiber-optic viewer, the first decision you will need to make is whether to obtain a flexible model or a rigid one. The three main concerns that can help you make this choice are price, image quality and where you will use the device. Rigid fiber-optic viewers typically cost less than flexible units, and they can offer substantially higher image quality. They are not suitable for many applications, though, and you will need to choose a flexible fiber-optic viewer to view objects around a corner or a series of bends.

Image quality is another important concern, and it can be broken down into areas such as resolution, contrast and field of view. Fiber-optic viewers that have more fiber strands also have higher resolutions, which results in a better overall image quality. Contrast also can be important, though, and if you want a unit that excels in this category, you should look for a fiber-optic viewer that has leached bundles, which are optic strands that are completely separated from each other. The other type uses fused fiber bundles, which can allow cross contamination between the strands and provide a lower contrast. Fiber-optic viewers also offer wide, narrow and medium fields of view, and wider fields typically provide lower levels of magnification.

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