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Engine Borescope

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Engine Borescope: The Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents


Are you often puzzled about the concept of using an automotive borescope for inspection purposes?

Manufacturing equipment and factory machines often carry big engines that are hard to uncouple during maintenance and repair. Sometimes inspecting defects in these machines during routine checks can only be effective if there is a means to check the internal components, preferably without disassembling the engines. 

Engine borescope has proved to be effective for these kinds of inspection without going through the rigorous process of dismantling the engine, which often takes a significant amount of time and energy. Additionally, it has numerous benefits that have made it a preferred inspection method.

Do you want to know more? Then let’s dive right in.

I. What is an Engine Borescope?

For starters, an engine borescope uses an optical tool called a borescope to inspect defects within an engine. This optical device is designed to assess narrow and hard-to-reach areas using optical components for visually inspecting these areas. The industrial borescope often consists of either a rigid or flexible probing tube with a display piece and an objective lens camera on either side of the tube. These components are connected using an optical or electrical connection to complete the inspection system. 

If you need to enhance the visual inspection, especially for dark areas, an illuminating device often made of fiber optics is connected to the objective lens end of the tube, which illuminates the object. The image is then generated and magnified by the objective lens and eyepiece, respectively, before it finally gets to the viewer, who can also attach an external photography device for a better view. 


➤ Related Article: Industrial Borescope: Definition and Working Principle

➤ Related Article: Comparison Guide: Borescope vs. Endoscope

II. Why is an Engine Borescope Important?

The engine borescope is vital for many reasons, one of which is its ability to help inspectors probe and assess difficult-to-reach areas of an engine to identify errors that might result in damage. However, engine borescope is quite applicable in various other applications that require a high level of precision in identifying flaws in a timely fashion. Equally, the high-quality image produced by the borescope is of great importance to accurately ascertain the nature of the error and possible failures during an engine’s operation. 

But that’s not all.

Engine borescope also has a high level of safety compliance when inspecting large engines like turbines that will have been a source of safety concern in situations that require the dismantling of an engine. The unnecessary maintenance cost avoided is often huge with engine borescope for periodic and routine engine inspections. 

III. What is the Application of Borescope?

Virtually every manufacturing industry sector needs equipment inspection and therefore relies on non-destructive inspection methods like a borescope. For instance, industrial systems like manufacturing assembly often use a borescope to inspect the quality and safety of their assembly parts for things like corrosion, wear, and tear of components. Likewise, security systems within an organization often go through routine checks to ascertain the quality of their equipment. 

Product quality inspection is perhaps the most widespread use of borescope, where it is used to check for material, dimensions, and specification consistencies. One such application is cast component inspection, where elements like pipes and machinery undergo inspection for internal and external specification compliance. Borescope gives a very accurate assessment of the state of the inner parts of objects, including identifying metal flaws such as burs that require immediate correction. 

The borescope is also especially applicable for inspecting heavy equipment that ordinarily requires dismantling during maintenance. However, borescope enables the inspection with the need to uncouple any equipment. Some relevant industries include construction, automotive, aviation, and military. The precision required in these industries is top-notch, and nothing is left to chance when inspecting for flaws in components like wires, tubes, valves, and pistons. 

Likewise, borescope is applicable for various types of turbines, including wind, steam, and gas turbines, where interior inspection is key to optimum performance. The borescope is very effective for inspecting the interior of components like pressure vessels, generators, steam pipes, and heat exchangers for wear and tear and any signs of stress. This inspection helps in the early detection of defects and helps to avoid unnecessary high maintenance costs. 

IV. What are the Features and Benefits of Engine Borescopes?

While there are various borescopes, certain features are basic and can be found in all borescopes, no matter the type. All borescopes feature a light source, hollow tube, an eyepiece with a magnifying component, and an image relaying from the borescope’s end to the display like cameras or optical lenses. This image display device allows an accurate visual inspection of defects like cracks, corrosion, burrs, and voids. 

In addition to these features, the engine borescope is known to have numerous benefits, including 

  • An extensive array of applications 

The borescope is used across many industries like automotive and aviation and for various inspection forms, including areas that are quite challenging for another form of inspection methods to reach. 

  • Variety of camera diameters

With a diversity of challenging spaces and holes of tiny diameter to assess, borescope has proven up to the task with an abundance of camera diameters that can be as tiny as half a millimeter. These cameras are often exact and very effective for inspection requiring a high level of accuracy like in the aviation industry. 

  • Accessibility

Borescopes are often highly maneuverable, granting access to long internal spaces requiring several turns in the inspection process. Usually, high-end fiber optic types are used for these situations, and they can assess tubes that are more than 30 meters long. 

  • Illuminating dark spaces

The possibility of illuminating dark corners and spaces using an attached lighting device makes borescopes very beneficial and increases its range of application. 

  • Durability

Borescopes can withstand very harsh conditions without losing their material integrity. They can often be subjected to a high moisture environment or even submerged in water during inspection without losing performance. 

V. How does Engine Borescope Work? 

As stated earlier, engine borescopes are either flexible or rigid tubing with an eyepiece on one side of the tube and an objective lens on the other side. There is often an electrical connection between these components to complete the system circuitry. Usually, a sensor chip is connected to the insertion end of the tube to take both still images and videos. Inspectors can easily view the photos sent to the display through the sensor chip.

Some recent designs of borescope might even have an attached Light Emitting Diode or a laser diode as an illuminating element at the insertion tip. The level of illumination can sometimes be the determining factor for a clear image, as putting in mind that the primary function of the borescope is to transmit images from the camera to the display screens.

VI. What are some Challenges for Engine Borescope Inspection?

Like any other inspection, engine borescope inspection is not without its challenges. The first challenge and arguably the most common is the high initial purchase cost, especially for the modern designs with various options and accessories, including USB computer connections, LED lights, and high-resolution cameras. Also, some level of contact can subject the borescope to some level of damage in situations of intense heat. Another challenge is the repair and maintenance cost which is high. In some cases, a replacement is the only option as there is usually very little possibility of repair.

VII. Top Tips for Buying Borescopes

When purchasing a suitable borescope for your specific inspection needs, some considerations are essential to getting the right borescope. These considerations include

  • Inspection camera size

While bigger is often considered better for image quality, some situations might require a smaller inspection camera. For example, certain pipes, holes, and tubes might be so small that a big borescope might not be suitable. Therefore, understanding the criticalness of camera size and the image quality trade compromise will be essential before purchasing a borescope. 

  • Modern illuminating technology

Knowing the lighting situation of your peculiar inspection situation is also a critical factor. This consideration will help you decide your lighting option’s illumination type, quality, and durability. 

  • Magnifying capacity 

An operator does not need to frequently re-focus a borescope with an excellent magnifying capacity and an almost limitless reach. However, you need to use a simple rule to estimate the magnification capacity for both rigid and flexible borescopes. 

  • Rigid or flexible?

You need to decide the best type of borescope suitable for your inspection needs. Usually, a rigid borescope is often ideal for inspecting hydraulic systems, cylinders, and fuel injectors—nonetheless, a flexible borescope is an elastic connection between the lens and the eyepiece. 

  • The field of view

The ability of the camera to twist and turn within confined spaces for a better view of components is also an essential consideration since there will be situations where hard-to-reach areas will require a good field of view. 

Other equally important considerations include quality of the camera, length of cable, and lighting options, as all these factors can either make or mar your inspection objectives if you fail to give them the attention required.


➤ Related Article: How to Choose Your Right Video Borescope?


In conclusion, engine borescope is an innovative and advantageous inspection technology that enables inspectors across various industries to inspect very tight corners and hard-to-reach areas in a component. However, putting adequate thought and consideration to certain factors will enable your purchase of a suitable borescope for your peculiar inspection needs. Some of these factors include the type of borescope (either rigid or flexible), the lighting options, the field of view, and magnifying capacity, among other factors. Nonetheless, you might have to grapple with challenges like high initial cost and repair difficulty should you choose to use borescopes. Now that you have this information, the ball is in your court.

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