How To Use A Rigid Borescope

by | Mar 15, 2021 | News, Blog

Fiberscopes can be a hassle to use and expensive to repair. When possible, go with an easy-to-use rigid borescope. Check out their uses below.

The first modern borescope was invented in 1960 and, according to Advanced Turbine Support, featured a “rigid tube and an optical visual inspection system.”

Over the past six decades, rigid borescopes have endured as a popular inspection tool due to their easy-to-use design and unmatched image quality. Today, these devices are commonly used as industrial borescopes, making them especially popular in the plumbing industry as well as several other fields.

Are you thinking of adding a rigid borescope to your inspection tool collection? This article covers which borescope inspections these tools are best suited for as well as what to consider when purchasing your own.

What Is A Rigid Borescope? 

Before we dive into the uses of rigid borescopes, let’s define their features.

rigid borescope is comprised of a non-flexible scope of polished stainless steel attached to an eyepiece. The eyepiece consists of glass rod lenses, which allow a direct view into the inspection area. Light fiber bundles line the probe, casting light onto the eyepiece.

Although this technology provides superior image quality to that of borescope cameras, some maintenance professionals need to record their borescope inspections. We recommend attaching a USB camera and adapter, as well as an additional light source, to the eyepiece for optimal inspection footage.

Rigid borescopes come in a wide variety of sizes. Typical probe diameters range from 2.7mm to 10mm and the length of these devices can reach up to 305mm. Rigid borescopes are also incredibly durable and can handle exposure to water, dust, oil and diesel fuel. It is no surprise that such a versatile and hardwearing tool makes a popular industrial borescope.

How Are Rigid Borescopes Used? 

Rigid borescopes are the simplest of their kind and offer a multitude of applications. The stiff probe makes it easy to conduct borescope inspections and the high-quality imaging allows users to spot cracks and other corrosion in pipes and machinery. Whether you’re in manufacturing or the plumbing industry, rigid, industrial borescopes are a fast and easy way to get the job done.

Although rigid borescopes are typically used to inspect areas in direct view of the operator, some argue they are also fit for more complex machinery. According to Digital Camera World, “Sometimes it isn’t enough to push a long flexible wire into the object of your inspection . . . if you want more accurate inspection of complex mechanicals, it can sometimes help to hold the camera nearer, on a rigid arm.”

Clearly, the rigid borescope offers endless possibilities. Let’s get into their most popular uses.

Rigid Borescopes In The Plumbing Industry

Rigid borescopes are most commonly used in the plumbing industry to diagnose clogged pipes or other damage. They are especially valuable for borescope inspections of pipes that run overhead. Unlike fiberscopes, rigid borescopes aren’t susceptible to gravity, and hold their shape no matter the angle they’re inserted at.   Although most plumbing experts will have a pipe snake camera for longer inspections a smaller rigid borescope with a portable light source can be very handy for a quick look at a problem.

They may sound simple, but rigid borescopes are essential to keeping your pipes, or your client’s pipes, in good shape. Borescope inspections offer a fast, less invasive method of diagnosis, allowing plumbers to determine a treatment without disassembly.

Borescope inspections also help plumbers spot problems before they arise. Build trust with your customers by assuring them that you’re helping them save money in the long run.

Rigid Borescopes as Industrial Borescopes 

Like the plumbing industry, manufacturers favor rigid borescopes for their high-quality imaging and ease of use. Rigid borescopes, sometimes called industrial borescopes in manufacturing, are used to check for corrosion in any straight pipes, engine cylinders and gas turbines.

Maintenance professionals in the automotive industry, for example, use industrial borescopes to examine car engines. Use these tools to perform borescope inspections of engine components, like the piston, and avoid taking apart the entire engine.

Other real-word examples of industrial borescope use include HVAC systems inspections and cleanings. Perform routine inspections of ventilation pipes or use your borescope to locate clogs, leaks and other issues that impact HVAC system performance. They are also popular with companies that perform the same inspection regularly, as rigid borescopes can be mounted to a fixed position. For this reason, rigid, industrial borescopes are commonly used in metal casting and cylinder bore inspections.

Rigid borescopes aren’t just for inspection. They can also be used during the installation of natural gas piping. According to POWER, “prior to placing newly installed natural gas piping and valves in service, systems must be properly cleaned to remove potentially damaging foreign material that is inherently left behind during construction.”

When determining if piping requires a gas blow, POWER recommends, “If stainless steel piping is used downstream of the fuel gas conditioning skid, it can instead be visually inspected using a borescope. If debris is found, the stainless pipe should be blast or brush cleaned, as conditions require.”

Rigid borescopes can perform a number of different jobs. Consider investing in your own for easier, faster and safer borescope inspections.

Rigid Borescopes In The Aviation Industry

Borescope inspections are absolutely vital to upholding the safety standards of the aviation industry. Industry professionals depend on them to prevent common causes of turbine engine failure. When choosing an inspection tool, make sure it allows you to detect worn out fan blades as well as corrosion and contamination of internal engine components. Keep in mind, borescopes are not one-size-fits-all.

Rigid borescopes are among the most affordable inspection tools in the aviation industry, but they should only be used to perform certain inspections. If you’re working with engine components in direct view, such as the piston engine cylinders, we recommend choosing a rigid, industrial borescope. These durable tools provide high-quality imaging, allowing you to perform a safe and thorough inspection.

For borescope inspections without direct access, try a fiberscope. This tool’s flexibility will allow you to get past any tight corner, making it ideal for deep engine inspections.

Buying A Rigid Borescope

So you’ve decided to invest in a rigid borescope. There’s a few criteria you’ll need to consider before taking one home.  The most important feature to consider is the size of the scope. If you’re in the plumbing industry, for example, make sure your inspection tools fit inside your client’s pipes, no matter the project. It’s also worth noting that the larger the camera, the better the image quality. Think about machinery you most often examine and make your selection. You may even find you require rigid borescopes of varying sizes.

Probe length and field of view (FOV) are also important features to consider, as they impact the accuracy of your borescope inspection. Make sure your probe is long enough to reach deep engine or machinery components under inspection, and that your FOV is wide enough to see all sides of the cavity.

Lastly, if you’d like to record your borescope inspection, consider attaching a camera to the eyepiece. For better footage, add more light sources to your device.

Contact Us 

Rigid borescopes are straightforward in their design and easy to use. They are the most affordable inspection tool and vital to certain inspections. Not sure if your borescope inspection requires a rigid borescope? Don’t hesitate to contact us. Our seasoned staff of professionals is happy to chat through your needs and help you make a selection.