Engraving Microscopes and Supplies
Engraving microscopes give you a good look at your handiwork and help refine details, but too much magnification can actually slow down your work. Many engravers add a 0.5X reducing objective Barlow lens to their engraving microscope, which gives them a 3.25X through 22.5X range. What else should you think about when buying?
Bright, even lighting makes it easier to see fine details. Most engravers today choose LED ringlights.
A comfortable headrest
You spend long stretches looking through the eyepiece. A firm headrest can reduce neck strain and headaches.
You need enough space to work easily with your tools. Working distance of at least 4 inches is recommended, if not more.
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There was a time when the only useful option for an engraving microscope came from Leica or Zeiss and the investment for an average engraver was substantial.
Over the last decade, hand engraving has become a focus for stereo microscope manufacturers, and the cost of a stereo microscope for engraving has come down. Way, way down.
Today, an Omano microscope with a favorable magnification range for engraving work can cost about 1/4 to 1/8 the price of that original Leica. Thousands of dollars less.
A compound microscope is not suitable for engraving. The magnification is too great. You're interested in fine detail, not the cellular structure of your subject. A stereo microscope gets you a closer look at whatever you're working with, and that's what you want. More on magnification below.
The most important microscope feature for modern hand engraving artists and other engravers is...
That's the space between the objective lens in your stereo microscope and the metal or jewelry or whatever surface you're working on.
If your engraving microscope features a magnification range of 3" to 7", it has the right amount of space for you to work with your hand engraving tools (even including the largest pneumatic engraving tools or your favorite 40-year-old engraving tool).
If you primarily work with a laser engraving machine, the working distance of your microscope isn't as much of a concern because you aren't looking through the microscope eyepiece while engraving, but as a quality assurance step after the work is complete.
What magnification do engravers commonly use?
Broadly, the magnification range of a stereo microscope is around 6.5X or 7X to 45X.
Many engravers choose to add a 0.5X reducing objective Barlow lens, which gives the microscope a 3.25X through 22.5X range. This range is suitable for:
Relief engraving by hand
...really any hand engraving at all.
The lower magnification range is good to use while you work with your hand tool, and the higher magnification range is best suited for reviewing the engraving depth or fine detail of your work on glass, or wood, or jewelry, stone, metal or whatever surface you worked on.
A ring light is commonly used for illumination in conjunction with a gooseneck LED light for fine adjustments.
Some models feature a trinocular head, to which you can attach a digital camera for still pictures and videos of your metal engraving workflow which you can use as an illustration to onboard new staff or participate in engraving forum discussions where you share image and video files of your work.
Any piece of equipment needs to return value to your business. You can find that valuable piece here. If you feel better talking to an expert than reading on a website, give us a call. We'll help you find the perfect mix of features and value to grow your business.
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