Microscopes can be really expensive, especially when you enter into the industrial range of high-end microscopes where you can expect to see prices in excess of $20,000. They are a significant investment to any laboratory and proper care and maintenance are paramount to ensure your microscope stands the test of time. We’ve analysed our top tips to properly care for your microscope.
Storage – When storing your microscope, make sure that it is protected from dust, dirt, pollen, lint etc. with a dust cover. Leaving a microscope out in the open can cause the image quality to deteriorate over time. It is a good idea to unplug the microscope from power while in storage and remove oil from the oil-immersion objective with a delicate task wipe. Storing your microscope in a cool, dry place also will help to prolong the life of your microscope. Keep it clear from any potential chemical fumes as these can be detrimental to the lenses and other metal parts.
Lens and Objective Care – Microscope lenses are very fragile and need to be handled with care to prevent scratches. Never let your lens touch the microscope slide and never touch any of the lenses with your fingers. Microscope lenses are difficult to clean and proper care is very important. To determine which of your objective lenses need to be cleaned, take a clean glass slide and put it under your microscope, when the microscope is focused you will be able to move the slide around and determine if the visible dust is moving with the slide or staying in the same place (this means the dust is on the objective lens).
Immersion Oil – Immersion oil is essential for the good optical performance of your microscope. It is important that you use the oil correctly and make sure that you remove the oil after each use. Failure to do so can result in the oil making its way into mechanisms that will cause damage to the microscope and sometimes this damage can be irreversible. Removing immersion oil is best done with lens tissue and used very gently.
Annual Service Check – On an annual basis it is a good idea to clean and lubricate moving parts of the microscope. Inspect the power cords and plug and ensure no exposed wires and stock up on replacement light bulbs, if you are using a microscope with LED lighting you will not be required to change the globe as they should last for over 40,000 hours.
Servicing – It is recommended that you get your microscope periodically tested by a qualified servicing technician. Generally, a service is required after 200 hours or every 3 years, whichever comes first. Depending on the type of microscope you have, you may need to have it serviced more frequently.
Caring for your microscope is important to maximise your return on investment. It is important that you choose a microscope that has the structural integrity and quality to stand up to a long term maintenance program. Remember the old saying “A stitch in time saves nine!” make sure you address issues immediately to eliminate downtime and increase the lifespan of your microscopes. Westlab has a range of accessories in the links below that will assist you with the correct care techniques.