Using digital microscope measurement software to verify PCBs

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A guide to digital microscope measurement software

What is digital microscope measurement software and which one should you choose?

Become an expert on the topic by reading this guide.

A key benefit of using a digital microscope is having access to software that go beyond just magnification and basic digital camera settings. Although there’s many software options to choose from, one of the most used and sought after pieces of software, regardless of industry and sample type, is a digital microscope measurement software that allows companies to measure samples more efficiently and accurately. This can either be done on the microscope itself or on a connected computer depending on which microscope and software you choose.

 

In this post, we’ll go through:

What is digital microscope measurement software?

Digital microscope measurement software is a piece of software for digital microscopes that allows you to perform a variety of measurements on your magnified samples. To perform accurate measurements, the digital microscope measurement software needs to be calibrated. This can either be done by the manufacturer at the time of purchase or on-site by a microscope operator or supervisor.

The digital microscope measurement software will typically offer a variety of measurement tools, such as point-to-point, radius, angle, and area. With some digital microscope measurement software, you can even highlight interesting areas of an inspected sample and add annotations before saving a photo of it for documentation purposes. This, however, will depend greatly on which digital microscope measurement software you choose.

What are the benefits of using a digital microscope measurement software?

The most common reason for choosing a digital microscope measurement software is to eliminate manual measurements, e.g. with calipers. When measuring manually, an operator typically needs to manually note the measurement on a piece of paper or type it into a Data management system. This can be a lengthy process and the accuracy of the measurements will greatly depend on the individual operator and their thoroughness.

With digital microscope measurement software, however, the measurement is done on a live or still image from the microscope and a photo of the completed measurement can easily be captured.

 

Key benefits of using a digital microscope measurement software thus include:

  • Increased efficiency and accuracy of measurements
  • Easy documentation processes and increased traceability

 

You will be able to reap additional benefits depending on how advanced the digital microscope measurement software that you choose is and what your starting point is. For that reason, let’s have a look at what you need to consider when choosing your next digital microscope measurement software and what benefits you can expect depending on what you choose.

What to consider when choosing digital microscope measurement software

Because of the wide range of digital microscope measurement software available to choose from, knowing which one to choose can be challenging.

However, we’ve created a list of things to consider if you’re currently looking for a digital microscope measurement software. If you keep these things in mind, we’re confident you’ll be able to find a digital microscope measurement software that meets your needs and requirements.

1. What options are available for your current microscope?

If you have a digital microscope already, a great place to start is by considering if there’s any digital microscope measurement software options available for your current microscope. If not, you need to start doing your research by looking for a new digital microscope that offers digital microscope measurement software. This of course makes your research more extensive, but it means you’re in no way limited by your current equipment.

2. What is the image quality of the digital microscope?

Even if you have a digital microscope already that offers digital microscope measurement software, make sure to check that the microscope has enough magnification capacity and camera resolution to display your samples in a quality that you can measure on. If the image is pixelated or your sample isn’t magnified enough, it’s difficult to make accurate measurements. This of course also applies if you don’t have a digital microscope already.

Technical specifications that you need to pay special attention to are: Camera resolution, framerate and camera zoom.

3. What measurement tools and features do you need?

Another important factor to consider when choosing digital microscope measurement software is the type of measurements you want to perform. Make sure that the software offers those specific measurement tools. Further, consider any additional features that would be nice to have, either now or at a later point. Such features could include:

  • Add text and arrow annotations on image before saving a photo of performed measurements
  • Change color and size of text and annotations to increase visibility
  • Save measurements as heads-up displays for future inspections
  • Send images, including annotations, of faulty samples directly to Data management system via API

4. How accurate measurements should the digital microscope measurement software produce?

As mentioned previously, digital microscope measurement software needs to be calibrated to perform high quality measurements. This can either be done by the manufacturer or on-site by a microscope operator or supervisor. Which option you choose will typically affect the accuracy of the measurements you’ll be able to perform.

If you’re not working with strict tolerances, an accuracy of 0.5% may suffice. However, if you need more accuracy than that, go for a digital microscope measurement software with significantly higher accuracy. As an example, the TAGARNO Ruler app has an accuracy of 0.5%, while the TAGARNO Measurement app has an accuracy of 3µm.

5. What additional equipment do you need to run the digital microscope measurement software?

Lastly, a thing worth considering when choosing your digital microscope measurement software is what kind of additional equipment is required to perform your measurements. While some digital microscope measurement software can run directly on the microscope itself, others require that you connect the microscope to a computer and perform the measurement on here.

This not only means that you need to find room for an extra laptop or computer at your workstation. You also need to consider the USB ports available on your microscope and how it will affect the image quality. With USB 2.0 outputs, what is displayed on the computer is a compressed version of what the microscope initially recorded, resulting in a significant loss of detail for your inspections. A USB 3.0, in comparison, can display a non-compressed display format that will not reduce the amount of detail before displaying it on a computer.

Using digital microscope measurement software to measure a metal object

Examples of digital microscope measurement software

Now that we know what digital microscope measurement software is, its benefits and what to consider when choosing the right one for you, let’s have a look at some options.

Below you’ll find two digital microscope measurement software options that are developed by and compatible with selected digital microscopes from TAGARNO. Both options can be used without a separate computer and run on the extremely high quality microscopes from TAGARNO with FHD 1080p camera resolution, 60 frames per second and 30x optical zoom.

The biggest difference between the two pieces of digital microscope measurement software is their accuracy and number of features.

EXAMPLE 1

Ruler app: Use heads-up displays for quick measurements

With the Ruler app, you can activate an on-screen Ruler in a variety of colors and directions and use it as a heads-up display to quickly measure your samples. The Ruler app is factory calibrated and has an accuracy of 0.5%. This combined with the fact that you can save your most used ruler settings as a preset makes the Ruler app a great tool if efficiency, reduced sample preparation time and consistency across inspections are key KPIs for you.

EXAMPLE 2

Measurement app: The advanced version

With an accuracy of 0.003%, the Measurement app is a great option if you want to perform more advanced and accurate measurements. The Measurement app offers more than 10 measurement and annotation tools and you can save your measurements as heads-up displays and use them to quickly verify if future samples fall within your tolerances or not.

Unlike other similar measurement software, this one doesn’t require a separate compute. All it needs is a mouse and a keyboard connected to use all the built-in features.

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