In medical and physical sciences, quality control, research, and development have flourished since the commercialization of the scanning electron microscope in the 1960s. Researchers can now examine things that are not visible with the naked eye or a light microscope with the scanning electron microscope, often regarded as a key piece of instrumentation in almost all modern laboratories. Today, a hi-end FE-SEM costs over $1 million if it comes with all the necessary accessories. Most laboratories cannot afford it. SEMs can be too expensive for a startup company, a small company, or a university department. A manager is always concerned about the associated cost of ownership with a given piece of equipment. A used scanning electron microscope can be an economical solution in such a circumstance.

Selection of SEM

A couple of questions must first be answered before buying any SEM, whether new or used:

  • What are the requirements for observing samples in their natural state?
  • For a given feature on the piece, what is the minimum resolution required?
  • What is the minimum size of the imaged sample?

A technical sales engineer at SEM will ask your application questions first, along with timing and budget. Your engineer should focus your search intelligently on the right type of SEM for your particular application once he knows what your needs entail. As the electrons reflect off the sample, the choice essentially comes down to the type of emitter and detector used.

There are many types of a transmission electron microscopes for sale, so it is necessary to consider the kind depending on the application. Scanning electron microscopes are priced largely according to the resolution they can provide at low-accelerating voltages.

Prices for SEM

Resolution is the primary factor determining the price of scanning electron microscopes. Additionally, the size of the chamber and the type of SEM accessories, such as an elemental dispersive spectroscopy system (EDS), determine the price.

The price of FE-SEMs is related to the resolution. The more expensive transmission electron microscopes become as they approach nanometer resolution. Depending on the circumstances, there can also be a significant price difference between new and used items. In addition to the seller’s urgency to sell the SEM quickly, its age can also be a factor. Typically, if one is in a hurry to close the deal, there are fewer chances of seeing a working machine run. Therefore, buyers should take caution.

Additionally, it is worth noting that manufacturers of SEMs began introducing the upper detector at a 3-nanometer resolution, which was the driving force behind increasing solutions all of the way down to 1-nanometers. 

A standard FE-SEM detector cannot resolve features smaller than 4 nanometers without a higher sensor. When a system’s price approaches 1 nanometer, a higher detector becomes a factor.

When purchasing a used SEM machine, you should look for the following:

It is important to see the financial implications of purchasing a used scanning electron microscope, especially by a start-up or small company where cash flow is the most significant factor. Several factors should be taken into consideration when considering used equipment. First and foremost, determine whether the equipment is appropriate for the intended purpose. Ensure you know the maximum sample size and the resolution required. To ensure the scanning microscope will be effective for your applications, you need to inspect it personally. No machine that is new or appears to be unique will necessarily perform better than an older one. Further, if spare parts are needed, confirm that they are available from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or the reseller. Last but not least, ask your supplier if there might be any upgrades you will need in the future, such as EDS or BSE detectors, infrared chamber scopes, etc.

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It is also important to consider the cost of ownership when buying a used electron microscope for sale to determine factors like maintenance, running costs, and consumables. In addition, it is a good idea to consider leasing rather than an outright purchase. An asset’s lifetime costs are recognized, and not just the initial purchase price. That is the benefit of a cost-of-ownership model. The cost of owning a certain piece of equipment should include the fees of reasonable equipment maintenance for five years.

Important things to keep in mind

Research the company you are going to buy from

  • You should sincerely examine the reputation and know-how of the business or seller you’re considering.
  • Can the seller demonstrate the SEM for your particular sample on the spot?
  • Has the seller undergone industry training, and have they gained good references in terms of sales and service capabilities?
  • Does the OEM or seller provide any warranties?
  • Is it possible for the seller or OEM to supply parts?
  • What are your options if the seller is willing to make you an offer to lease the equipment?
  • Does your seller provide on-site training after your SEM has arrived and installed?
  • How does the payment process work?

Examination of equipment

  • When purchasing equipment, make sure it is in good working order. You may hire a reputable local technician in the region to inspect the SEM after you are outside of the country to check the machine for you. It is relatively inexpensive and can be extremely useful. A technician can often identify problems that you would not otherwise notice.
  • Could you please let us know what other options you would be interested in considering in the future?
  • Are these options available before or on your premises from the seller or OEM, and how much are they?
  • Is there any documentation accompanying the equipment?

The shipping and installation process

  • Whether the seller is liable for handling your SEM’s loading and unloading, it is advisable to ask them for assistance. The long-term benefits include saving you money, time, and headaches.
  • You must ensure all equipment against loss in the event of loss during transportation/rigging.
  • For the SEM to be installed, does building work have to take place beforehand? Your preferred location should have the following requirements:
  • The SEM and its accessories should have enough space in the room
  • Rooms that are quiet and low in acoustic emission
  • Vibrations on the floor should be minimal in a room
  • The level of EMI must not interfere with imaging
  • Common facility requirements include exhaust gas venting, cooling with water when necessary, compressed air, and electrical connections.
  • Selecting a course of action

Suppose you choose to purchase pre-owned equipment for your laboratory. In that case, you will experience the same benefits: swift delivery times, reliable equipment, and the cost is a great deal less than if you opted to purchase brand new equipment. It is imperative to ensure that your laboratory purchases will withstand the test of time by researching which system is right for you.