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What Is A Borescope Used For? | Optics and Lab Equipment

What Is A Borescope Used For?

Last Updated: 20.10.19


If you have ever had work to do that involved the use of devices that could help you see where your naked eye couldn’t reach, you may know what a borescope is. There are many reviews of borescopes for iOS, as well as for Android, that point out what model to choose depending on your chosen purpose.

Borescopes are more widely spread than you think, and you can tell that there are many uses for this type of tool, by how many are available. They are used both on an industrial scale, as well as by home-based DIY-ers, so there’s a solid reason for their popularity.



What is a borescope, anyway?

Before delving into the many uses of this type of tool, let’s see what it is, first. The name borescope describes an optical instrument that comes with a tube – that can be either rigid or flexible –, an eyepiece on one end, and a camera on the other.

Between the two, there is an optical system in place that helps you see what’s on the side with the camera. Whenever there are places you need to inspect when you can’t do it with the naked eye, a borescope can come in handy.

The optical system may come with an illumination system in place, too, helping you see in dark spots. This can serve well in plumbing and other work that involves exploring areas that cannot receive direct illumination otherwise.

One great thing about borescopes is that they can also magnify the object you’re inspecting so that you can notice details such as fine cracks and the like. Another great advantage is that you can take pictures and even record videos that you can later use for problem diagnosis.


What were the first purposes of borescopes?

Although you might not have heard of these tools until recently, you should know that they have been around for quite some time. The first borescopes to have ever been used in the US were registered in the 1920s, and their most important role is to serve in medical applications.

During those times, the device also got its name, the first part, ‘bore’, coming from the visual appearance that made it look like the boresight found in a gun scope. People took quickly to the name, and that’s how this tool is known as today. Nonetheless, don’t expect just anyone to understand what a borescope is, or about its uses.


What’s the primary purpose of a borescope?

For a general reply, here’s the information you must know. Borescopes are designed in such a manner that they let inspectors observe areas that cannot be easily seen by the naked eye or other tools. As there’s a camera at one end of the tube, that optical device will capture images and transmit them to the eyepiece.

An important point in favor of borescopes is that they allow inspecting various objects and areas without being too intrusive. For instance, there is no need to take an entire engine apart to see what’s wrong with it, if you have a tool that you can insert through some opening and check it for damage.

Nondestructive testing is just one part of what a borescope can do, and you will see soon that there are many things you can do with such a device even if you are not very knowledgeable about how it works and you’re never had one.



Visual inspection work

This is the primary purpose borescopes are used for. Whenever you need to access an otherwise inaccessible area, a borescope will come in handy. Also, whenever the possibility to dismantle a device is undesirable, this kind of tool is all you need.

In case that sounds to you like something that resembles quite closely the purpose of an endoscope, you’d not be far off. Borescopes are, in a way, like endoscopes, only that they are not used in medicine, for exploring the human body.


Detection for quality control

One principal purpose for borescopes is detection for quality control. Pipes, vessels, and many other inner parts that belong to equipment that cannot easily be detached, dismounted, or dismantled, are difficult to inspect with the naked eye. Even with optical devices, they cannot be observed well, so there can be a lot of defects and imperfections that may be overlooked too easily.

Engines, machines, pipes, are all game for being inspected with the help of a borescope. Some companies specialize in creating borescopes for industrial applications. Whenever there’s a new product that must be inspected before being released on the market, a borescope is an ideal way to check it for quality control.


Uses in the electric power industry

There are industrial borescopes that have a particular role in this type of industry. For instance, such borescopes can be used for observing cracks caused by stress on the core of a turbine or a generator. Also, the borescope can detect any scars resulted from natural decay. Such humongous parts cannot easily be examined otherwise.

Once the defect or damage is identified, workers can decide on the best course of action for repairing the part, or they might just replace it. Seeing what consequences a damaged turbine or generator could have, it is easy to understand the importance of using borescopes in this industry.



Special survey applications for borescopes

This one is another application for borescopes on an industrial scale. It refers to examining the welds made by workers inside process pipes, reactors, and other parts that are used for large-scale industrials buildings.

It is essential to examine all the inside joints that were welded for signs of stress corrosion or chemical corrosion. Many things could cause cracks and other damage, so borescopes are indispensable for people working in this industry.


For inspecting ships and boats

Another industrial application of borescopes is this one. Ships and boats often need a close examination of some parts, such as their boilers, turbines, or engine pipes. Any sign of corrosion, cracks, rust, and the like will be easy to notice with the help of such devices. Therefore, they will be caught in time and dealt with swiftly to avoid unwanted consequences.


Other industrial uses of borescopes

Aircraft engines, gas turbines, diesel engines, truck engines, and many others can be inspected with the help of a borescope. Due to the high versatility of this type of tool, it can be utilized for various kinds of environments. For instance, it can be used in areas that are damp or wet, provided that both the camera and the tube are waterproof.

Other uses involve inspecting interior surfaces in industries that machine or cast parts. Aspects such as surface finish, or proper holes being drilled thoroughly, can be observed in such a manner. Gunsmithing is one application for which borescopes can prove handy. When you need to examine the interior of a firearm, such a tool is indispensable.


Home uses

Borescopes are now available for home use, too. You don’t have to purchase an industrial model, as there are plenty you can connect with your phone and record videos of various areas you need to inspect.

For instance, borescopes are ideal for plumbing work. When there is a damaged pipe, and you have no interest to destroy an entire wall to get to the problem, you can use a borescope to identify and diagnose the problem. Even if you are not the same person who will perform the repair, it is a good idea to inspect the pipes on your own before calling a professional.

You will find a borescope a good idea for inspecting the engine of your car. If there are leaks that are not easy to identify by the naked eye, it is recommended to use a tool that doesn’t require too much prior knowledge.

Some people even use borescopes for electrical work. However, always bear in mind that you should hire a professional for repairs since you shouldn’t attempt to work with electrical installations and the like if you’re not certified.

Borescopes can be used for fun stuff, too. For instance, if you like exploring caves and there are parts you can’t access, but if there are cracks in a wall that allow you to squeeze through the tube of a borescope, you will be able to explore more. Also, any cramped area that is too dark to see is easy to observe with such a tool.



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