Our customer had an in-house designed tool to measure the velocity of ink drops from printer cartridges. It was a very specialized microscope with laser illumination and an optical detector to determine drop velocity. The device had many adjustment positions in the optical path, and it took an experienced technician a day and a half to align it precisely. Our customer asked us to rework the system to improve the ease and speed of alignment.


Examination of the system revealed that it was built with laboratory optical bench parts. This was necessary while the design was being developed, but it was clear that the optical path could be simplified to have only two adjustment points. Furthermore, most of the optics could be incorporated into a machined microscope tube that would ensure precise alignment and enclose the elements in a dust-free environment.

We hired an experienced optics engineer to design the lens system. The improved optical system had a much greater depth of field and this allowed tests to be run with less motion of the mechanical positioning stage for the ink cartridges. As a result the automated test procedure ran much faster.


The prime result of our redesign was that alignment time dropped from a day and a half to half an hour. The actual test time also decreased dramatically, resulting in greatly improved test throughput.

Laser Alignment Tool