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What Is the Difference Between a Borescope and an Endoscope?

Last Updated: 06.12.21


In case you are interested in purchasing a new borescope for your Apple smartphone, reading some iPhone borescope reviews should help you a lot to make an idea about the products that are available on the market. While borescopes and endoscopes look and function pretty much the same way, the former are usually used in technical applications, while the latter in medical ones.



What is a borescope?

In short, a borescope is an optical unit that is used for the visual inspection of work areas that are otherwise inaccessible. The device contains a flexible or rigid tube and has an eyepiece at one end. Furthermore, it is enclosed by optical fibers which help the user to illuminate the remote object. 

The objective lens, as well as the eyepiece, help magnify the internal image through illumination. There are two main types of borescopes that can usually be found on the market. There are rigid and flexible borescopes. Also, an imaging or video device can be set on the unit. 

Its purpose is to visually inspect various objects remotely in case other actions are destructive, too expensive, or time-consuming. The same type of device with similar functionality can be used inside the human body, and it is called an endoscope.


What is an endoscope?

An endoscope is actually a type of borescope. However, this is an instrument that can be used to be inserted into the human body without any surgery, in order to view images of the internal organs as well as other parts. The unit has a flexible tube with a light and it is equipped with an inspection camera.

This way, the examiner can view the track of internal organs on a colored TV monitor. This process is called endoscopy and the endoscope can capture pretty much all the issues related to the digestive system. The use of an endoscope can even help in taking a biopsy which is a procedure that is meant to remove tissues in order to get a better idea about the problem. 

In the case of an endoscopy, other specialized instruments and procedures can be used as well. It depends on the targeted organ, and we have a colonoscopy for the colon, cystoscopy for the bladder, or arthroscopy for joints. These are all procedures used to diagnose the internal health issue related to a specific organ.


Types of borescopes

As we mentioned earlier, there are rigid and flexible borescopes. The use of these units is very important as people who work in the mechanical or aircraft industries can detect issues with a mechanical device without having to disassemble it. 

This means that not only time is saved, but also money. Moreover, dismantling units can cause even more problems. Therefore, areas that are hard or impossible to view without being opened up can be inspected with a borescope. Both flexible and rigid borescopes have various functions and applications.



Rigid borescopes

As you might have guessed, these devices have a tube that does not bend, and they are available in a variety of angles. You can find borescopes in a straight line, right angle, as well as a few other forms meant to accommodate the needs of the user and the project at hand. This type is the most commonly used in the industry nowadays. 

The borescopes that are made to different types of angles are not so common, and they can even be hard to find. Also, they are more expensive compared to the standard straight line or the right-angled borescopes because they use several lenses in order to be able to transmit images from the lens to the eyepiece. 

These borescopes are the most popular types, and they are preferred by industrialists since they offer high quality and clarity of the images. These are the best options when it comes to the visual inspection of hard-to-reach places. 


Flexible borescopes

These borescopes use optic fiber instead of lenses to transfer images from the lens to the eyepiece. Since fiber optics are used, it allows the tube to be flexible. However, the resolution and the overall image quality has to suffer. The resolution is actually the sharpness of an image which is measured in pixels or the number of colored dots within a specific area. 

The more pixels an image has, the better the quality and clarity. Furthermore, flexible borescopes are not very efficient in identifying the difference between white and black hues. This makes detecting the problem less efficient. 

The use of fiber optics also makes these borescopes more expensive than rigid ones. Flexible borescopes are generally used where there are twists and turns within the objects inspected, where a rigid model cannot help.


Where are borescopes used?

There are many industries that use borescopes for their quality inspections and examinations of machine parts which cannot be accessed without disassembling them. These devices play an important role in saving money and time, making otherwise impossible-to-reach areas accessible. 

Aircraft mechanics, for example, use these instruments to examine internal engine turbines of aircraft in order to inspect and repair damaged parts. Mechanics also use borescopes to make sure that the machined parts are precise and of quality before they are exported for sale. 

Guns manufacturers also use them to examine rifle barrels and detect any possible defect or wear in the barrel that could affect the functionality of the guns. Construction inspectors can use these tools to identify any damage or defect causing things like mold, water, and even pests that might cause the building structure to fail. 

As you already know, the application of borescopes is not only limited to industries, as they are also used for educational and medical purposes, which is the case of endoscopes.


Differences between borescopes and endoscopes

As we have already mentioned, an endoscope is a type of borescope, and they both have similar functionality. Many people believe that there are no differences between the two, but that is not entirely correct. Even though both devices look almost identical and have some matching features, there are some differences between the two.

An endoscope’s outer diameter, for example, is much thinner than the one of a borescope. Also, the endoscope allows effortless glide. It is not the case of a borescope; its gliding ability varies in order to correspond with the running projects. 

Another big difference is flexibility. Due to its necessity of wiggle room, an endoscope needs to be more flexible. It is important to mention that both devices can be found in flexible and rigid forms. In case magnification is your main purpose, you can use an endoscope because even if borescopes can provide the same, it comes with a higher price. 



Another difference is the light. Endoscopes have dimmer lights than borescopes because they are more suitable to accommodate the internal structure of the human body. When it comes to the direction of view, a borescope can reach up to 120 degrees. The endoscope, however, is limited to 90 degrees, and it usually has a built-in direction view that you can adjust. 

Some differences can also be found when it comes to the length of the two types of devices. However, this is a feature that depends on the customer’s needs. Usually, people prefer short-length endoscopes, but when it comes to borescopes, all sizes are purchased.

Since borescopes can be both rigid and flexible, many people prefer using them for their household works. A rigid borescope is quite inexpensive, it is easy to use, and it also provides better image quality. 

The flexible model, on the other hand, allows you to look deep inside. Flexible borescopes offer the additional advantage of articulation, as well. This is the ability to remotely control the tip of the unit in order to bend in various directions and look around the cavity for issues. 

Even though there are some differences, you can also find a lot of similarities between borescopes and endoscopes. The good news is that you can choose the device that best fits your needs, budget, or purpose of use. 

Nowadays, you can find these devices with adjustable or movable parts and other useful features. Also, they are very accessible in terms of price, although you can go as high as many thousands of dollars if that is what you are after.



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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