Easy And Accurate Optical Alignment Using Accu Screws In Optical Microscopes
Santa Barbara Imaging, LLC, specializes in industrial microscopes for high tech applications in industry, engineering, and academia, offering standard products and custom OEM designs. Their current range includes products specifically designed for technologies dealing with visible light, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) & UV-Vis fluorescence microscopy.
Their company goals are to provide world class Microscope Systems and Gamma Spectrometers to the scientific community, aiding specifically in biological and engineering ventures, with their digital imaging products positioning them in a diverse and fast growing market.
We spoke to Santa Barbara Imaging’s CEO, Jeff Markakis, to find out how and why they’re using Accu screws in the development and construction of their motorized microscope systems.
Using Grub Screws For Alignment Adjustments In Motorized Microscope Systems
Optical microscopes, often also known as light microscopes, are the oldest microscope design, utilising visible light and a series of lenses to view samples as magnified images.
Whilst traditional microscopes used a single lens, similarly to how a magnifying glass works, modern optical microscopes often incorporate compound lenses to allow for a great degree of magnification. Digital microscopes offer the user another solution by using a computer to visualise the microscopic image produced using a digital camera, allowing for greater analysis.
In Microscope scientific instrumentation, often there is a requirement to make fine mechanical or alignment adjustments. In Santa Barbara Imaging’s latest market entry, a Motorized Microscope Turret, with sub-micron positioning repeatability, they incorporated a mechanism to allow each of the microscope objectives’ focus positions to be aligned to the same sample point.
Jeff commented, “Our solution was to use a small stage, driven by fine screws, that a user could easily access and control with a Hex Wrench. Accu’s screws were selected for their quality, size, and features to drive the small stages.”
On finding suitably sized components for the job, Jeff noted that M3 x 5mm Flat Point Stainless Steel Grub Screws were selected to drive the objective alignment mechanisms. “They were chosen for their ideal thread pitch for position control and flat end feature to mate against a spherical stage drive component.”
A spring was also incorporated into the backlash-free design to keep the stage against the M3 Grub Screws. Please see Daniel's article on “Lead Screws & Backlash” for a more detailed discussion on backlash mitigation.
On the considerations Santa Barbara Imaging LLC face whilst designing and manufacturing their scientific instruments, Jeff added “Our main challenge is to provide our customers with state-of-the-art performance at a good value. Accu’s Flat Tip Grub Screws are the perfect screws for our products; they were just what we needed, at a great price!”