History of Borescopes

Where do borescopes come from and who invented them? We look back at the history or the borescope, the inventor and how they have progressed over time. 

So where do borescopes originate from and with what purpose in mind? In this article, we look back at the origins of the borescope and how not only the design but also the applications for these inspection tools changed.

While endoscopes and borescopes are similar, endoscopes are used for medical purposes and borescopes are used for mechanical jobs. They have both developed over the years, but for this article we focus on borescopes.

Who Invented The Modern Borescope?

The first borescope-type devices arrived on the scene in the 1930s and ‘40s. As Advanced Turbine Support states, “The first recorded use of borescope-like tools dates all the way back to World War II, when soldiers would use long, primitive, inflexible optical devices to check the inside bores of their guns for defects. This is where the borescope (boroscope, bore scope or boro scope, as it is less commonly spelled) got its name.”

The first modern borescope was invented in the 1960s. According to Optics and Lab, “This version of the borescope that would be the first to be talked of in these terms was created in 1960 by Narinder Kapany, an American physicist of Indian descent, and Brian O’Brien, an optical physicist, also from the US.”

As Advanced Turbine Support states, Their device used a rigid tube and an optical visual inspection system.” It was limited in its capacity to fit in certain spaces, but it was a good jumping off point.

Development of Borescopes Throughout the Years

After the official invention in the 1960s, the borescope worked its way into various industries. This is when the endoscope was invented so doctors could look inside patients without causing significant damage.  Today we see the use of borescopes being used widely for Aviation borescope inspections, UV Borescope inspections with aerospace manufacturing and with the rise in concern for safety and health the demand for Explosion Proof Borescopes continue to increase.

In terms of borescope design, they are now a number of different types that have specific purposes or advanced features. These can be broken down into 3 main types of borescopes: rigid, flexible borescope and video borescope.

1. Rigid Borescopes

Rigid borescopes are non-flexible scopes made of polished stainless steel that utilize an eyepiece to look through, instead of a monitor.

Typical diameters range from 2.7mm up to 10mm and lengths of 175mm up to 305mm on average. These systems are ideal for the manufacturing industry, or companies that do the same inspection repetitively where they can mount the scope to a fixed position. Companies that specialize in metal casting and cylinder bore inspections are a good example of this.

The rigid borescope enclosed is designed to be oil, dust, water and diesel-proof. Rigid borescopes have an unmatched high image quality due to the direct view, instead of a video view.

All rigid borescopes are designed with light fiber bundles that transmit light to the end of the probe. These systems would still require an external light source. Taking pictures and/or videos is still possible by connecting a USB Camera and adaptor to the eyepiece of the borescope along with a high intensity LED light source. These systems are designed for direct view or side viewing angles.

While rigid borescopes have unmatched image quality, if an inspection requires the traversing of elaborate angles, a flexible borescope is recommended.

2. Flexible Borescopes

Flexible fiberscopes are a type of borescope or visual inspection instrument that uses a high-quality fiber bundle to transmit a clear visual image of the inspection area back to the user via a focusable ocular eyepiece.

The flexible borescopes allow users to navigate through areas that involve angles and other obstacles. This tool allows for a thorough inspection of small diameter structures such as mechanical chambers, small mechanical cavities, and other tiny open areas.  

These are much like the rigid borescope but can bend around corners and access spots through tough angles. Due to its ease of use and control, the flexible fiberscope is a top inspection tool of choice for many professionals across several industries.

Features And Benefits Of Flexible Fiberscopes

Possessing many benefits, flexible fiberscopes come in a variety of sizes and features for all inspection needs. The main type of flexible fiberscope is the articulating fiberscope which is used to inspect narrow or limited access points with help from its articulation or maneuverable function. Flexible fiberscopes primarily come with 2-way articulation, but the 4-way articulation fiberscope is available as well. You can find flexible fiberscopes in a variety of sizes ranging from 2.4mm (.09 inches) in diameter up to 6mm (.236 inches).

Fiberscopes are considered to be one of the more durable inspection tools. They contain a well-protected and enclosed optical image bundle that is encased by a group of braided stainless steel or tungsten to ensure protection from the outside elements.

Whether you are looking for a flexible borescope to inspect dark or poorly lit areas or add additional lighting for visual clarity, there is a large variety of light sources to match your exact needs. LED light sources, available as either a portable light source or a stationary one, are the most popular option due to being brighter and more energy-efficient than traditional halogen light sources.

Fiberscope video camera attachments & adaptor kits are also available which allow users to not only connect their fiberscope to their computers for an enhanced inspection visual, but it also provides users the ability to image capture and record video. A camera attachment can be added to a fiberscope by attaching the camera to the ocular eyepiece via a C-mount adapter.

3. Video Borescopes

A videoscope is a tool used by technicians to inspect hard-to-reach spaces. Typically, it is comprised of a fiber optic rod attached to a camera; this camera sends video to a monitor so the operator can view it.

Videoscopes use articulated tips that give operators more control over the direction of the camera, allowing for better maneuvering in tight spots. Most of these tools come with external lights that can illuminate dark areas within machinery or pipes.

An insertion probe section allows for easy entry into whatever piece of equipment might need inspecting. Typically, less than 8 millimeters in diameter and up to 7 meters in length, videoscopes can be tailored to the precise task at hand.

Videoscopes are used in various industries, particularly aviation and aerospace, to inspect turbines, engines and other components of aerospace/aviation machinery. Videoscopes are also often used in the plumbing and manufacturing industry; they are a useful tool for inspecting expensive machinery without needing to disassemble the entire apparatus.

Portable Video Scopes

A portable videoscope is a type of borescope you can easily take on the go. It is a flexible style inspection camera with an insertion tube made up of either poly/vinyl, stainless steel or tungsten sheathing. Typical diameters for portable borescopes range from 2.1mm through 8mm and average probe lengths range from 1 meter to 7.5meters.

Contact Us!

Borescopes have come a long way since WWII, and will only continue to evolve as time goes on. Finding the right borescope product can be difficult, but USA Borescopes is here to help. If you have any questions about borescopes, videoscopes or fiberscopes, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have a full staff of seasoned professionals who are eager and ready to help you.