Important Points to Consider in the Purchasing Process for a Benchtop – Desktop SEM

Important Points to Consider in the Purchasing Process for a Benchtop – Desktop SEM

The market for Tabletop – Benchtop – Desktop Scanning Electron Microscopes has increased significantly due to the trend toward smaller, faster, and more cost-effective equipment. It might be challenging for a prospective buyer to determine what features are essential in the landscape of choices available today.

In line with this, we’ve contributed to an article that tackles specific points to consider when purchasing an SEM. Although these instruments effectively bridge the gap between Optical Microscopes and conventional SEMs, some still deprive users of critical SEM workflow elements.

That’s why we have included some recommendations on the most important topics to consider when evaluating SEM systems. We understand that SEM’s are highly specialized tools, and purchasing one is often viewed as a long-term investment with a minimum expected lifespan of at least ten years.

When purchasing new equipment, we always recommend a specific outlined approach in testing the compatibility of machine to the designated facility as well as its ease of use so a new user could be trained easily and become productive quickly.​

Here is a summary of the topics we can cover, which includes the primary considerations that may influence your decision-making process when buying an electron microscope.

Some of the topics are listed below:

Quality and ease of imaging

There are a wide range of benchtop scanning electron microscopes on the market today and they all claim to have the best resolution or magnification.  What needs to be considered in  the buying process is sending samples and having a live demo to compare quality of image – resolution and how easy it was to obtain that image.  Is it easy to duplicate that process on each sample.  What prep is needed for the sample, if any at all.  The entire line of EmCrafts SEM’s have proprietary patent pending anti charging technology to almost eliminate the need to sputter coat your sample.  If there is not a need to prep your sample think of the time and money that would save. 

Where will you need to use it

Decide whether a tabletop SEM or floor model is more appropriate, considering the        advances in technology that no longer limit equipment capabilities and your ability to expand in the future.   What is your sample size now as well as possibly down the road.  This may also determine if a Tabletop or Larger Chamber SEM is right for you.  You may also need to see if the area or room is susceptible to vibration.  If so there may be a need for an anti-vibration platform to increase the imaging abilities of the SEM.

Do You Need Elemental Analysis

Energy-dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) is a powerful tool for the microanalysis of elemental constituents. It’s used to identify the composition of a sample or a particular area of interest on the sample. A key point of emphasis here is determining if you’ll require these microanalysis or elemental analysis capabilities.  Make sure that the SEM is compatible with the EDS System that you choose and can produce the necessary reports needed for your business.

Who’s Going to Use it

One of the first thing that should be considered is the person or persons that will use the SEM.  Most SEMs on the market today have features that allow inexperienced users to be able to have basic imaging performance. While this is the case, considering the level of expertise of all users is still vital to preventing potential damage and making choices that will limit certain system capabilities in the future. 

What About Magnification and Resolution

This is a number that many manufacturers put on a brochure  Know that users should consider the numbers representing magnification and resolution in terms of their application and what they actually mean.

Stage Manipulation

Note that with the advances in technology and general equipment capabilities, so have the size of samples that can be imaged. Here, we talk about viewing angles, height adjustment, manual and motorized stages, among others.

What About Service

Think about service as a significant cost-of-ownership factor that can impact your buying decision. As an actual user, consider how you’ll perform troubleshooting and maintenance. Your SEM is only usable if it is aligned properly and in good working condition.  The SEM is only as good as the service technician that works on the unit.  Are parts readily available?


To talk further or set up a Live Demo email Mark at [email protected] or call 973-220-8689