What a Flexible Borescope Is

February 22, 2021

Borescopes are amazing pieces of technology that were conceptualized and used in primitive forms as early as the 1930s. They’ve served many industries and aspects of our lives since then. With the onset of the amazing technology of fiber optics, borescopes were changed forever and made even more amazing and useful. Even so, many people aren’t aware of these tools and often ask what a flexible borescope is.

What Is a Borescope?

Borescopes were first invented for lab use during the 1960s. The first models were revolutionary in combing a tiny camera lens at the end of a long rigid barrel. Different diameters of barrels allowed for the up-close inspection of details inside machines and piping. This technology was almost immediately put to work in a variety of industries.

Any manufacturers that used cast elements—such as piping—could make use of the remote eye to inspect for fissures, cracks, and flaws inside cast metal. While useful, many industries still needed a way to investigate irregular shapes, such as ones deep inside assembled machinery, or pipes and vents with turns and angles.

Fiber Optics and Borescopes

To understand what a flexible borescope is, we need to look at fiber optics. First tested and experimented on decades prior, fiber optics were experimented on quite a bit before borescopes. For a long times, engineers had understood the image and light projecting qualities of bundles of fiberoptic cords. Unsurprisingly, it was only shortly after borescopes were first created that fiber optics were applied to them. Adding fiber optics removed the necessity for a rigid barrel.

Instead, the new flexible borescopes featured a camera mounted at the end of an array of fiber optic cords. As the name suggests, the camera could be fed into virtually any space. Due to the wire-like nature of the camera cord, it would simply bend around any obstacles.

Flexible Borescopes Today

The very first flexible articulating borescope had a rough view of the world at best. The shifting and bending of the early fiber optics caused feedback errors and could only account for very low-resolution images. Today, that’s no longer the case. Borescope and fiber optic technology is always improving as modern society finds more advanced uses for both. The modern varieties we offer at Gradient Lens vary dramatically in size, camera millimeter, and length—all of which feature solid video quality.

Variations also include external lighting solutions and different types of viewing access. Many handheld borescopes include a built camera display screen. This helps deploy a camera efficiently without having to double-check other screens. For those in need of larger devices or higher resolution screens, we also carry a selection of kits for connecting borescopes directly to laptops. Regardless of the task, we have rigid and flexible borescopes to match any micro inspection camera need.