Choosing the best microscope service depends on the specific needs of the client. Microscopy services may specialize in various fields, including biological research, consumer product evaluation, and forensic analysis. Industries might have microscopy equipment on hand but require training in the use of the equipment or specimen preparation. Labs and independent businesses offer training courses and instruction material to meet these needs while other microscope services sell equipment, accessories, and microscope repair services.
Using high resolution electron microscopes, a biological microscope service can locate bacteria, viruses, or other microbes that are not visible to the naked eye. The services these laboratories provide often include detection of suspected organisms in a sample or the identification of new strains of a microbe. The services generally include micrographs, or photographs of the microscopic organisms and written reports that may include observational notations. These services typically take two to four weeks, and fees vary depending on the number of samples and the type of examination required.
An industrial microscope service may cater to companies that manufacture household or personal care products. Using optical microscopes, these laboratories commonly analyze product samples microscopically for evidence of effectiveness. Technicians might observe hair samples for before and after results or evaluate skin samples for reactions produced by different products. Optical microscopic services might also include identification of fibers, fibrous or porous materials, and polymers that are used as ingredients in industrial products.
Some microscope service laboratories offer digital and light microscopy or electron microscopy for analysis and identification of materials for various concerns ranging from the automotive industry to water quality engineering. Microscopic services for criminal forensics are also provided. Laboratories can identify chemical residues left behind after a fire or explosion, and technicians may perform chemical and cross-matching analysis of hairs and fibers from violent crime scenes. Forensic specialists can also identify soil samples and match materials to specific geological locations.
Certain laboratories offer personal and online training courses for electron microscopic equipment use and the methods required for fixation and preparation of specimens. Topics covered in these courses include the techniques required for dehydration and cryofixation of specimens. Instruction might also include the technique of preparing specimens for thin slice or cross-section viewing by first embedding specimens in resin.
When businesses are contemplating the purchase of microscope equipment, some microscope services offer information and suggestions concerning the type of microscope equipment that might suit the company's needs. These businesses typically sell accessories that include light sources and digital software that extends viewing methods. Microscope retailers often provide instruction for the set-up and use of particular types of equipment.