Differences Between Rigid and Fiber Optic Borescopes

Differences Between Rigid and Fiber Optic Borescopes

September 1, 2021

With such a wide variety of inspection tools on the market, selecting the best one for your work can seem like an overwhelming task. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of some of the differences between rigid and fiber optic borescopes to help ease the process and help you decide confidently.


While these tools are closely related, they do have a few primary differences that set them apart. One of those key differences lies within the capacity for flexibility. To start, rigid borescopes, while very useful, are not meant to bend. The rod that attaches to the tool’s eyepiece is, as the name suggests, rigid. And therefore, it can only inspect certain areas of a part.

On the other hand, fiber optic scopes have a rod design that allows them to bend in numerous directions. This is because the rod itself comprises various joints that can turn around sharp corners and challenging angles. So, while both tools play an essential role in certain types of inspections, they differ significantly in their flexibility.


Another critical difference between these tools lies within the features that each can readily offer users. Because rigid borescopes tend to stay true to a more traditional design, the particular features they come with are somewhat limited. Rigid borescopes offer users an eye-based imaging system with optional video capabilities. But anything outside of these things has to be tacked on with a special attachment or adaptor.

Inversely, fiber optic borescopes come with a few more features readily available. For instance, fiber optic scopes come with flexible articulation and maneuvering functions that make it much easier to tackle challenging and remote areas of an object. Additionally, these days, it’s also commonplace to see flexible articulating borescopes that include video recording capabilities, LED light sources, and adjustable lenses.


Of course, you can also find considerable differences in the design of each of these tools. Rigid borescopes have a traditional glass imaging system with an eyepiece that attaches to a stiff rod. A stainless steel tube encases the rod, protecting the tool and increasing its durability. And while this design is effective for various kinds of work, it doesn’t lend itself to a lot of flexibility and is limited in the type of work it can perform.

Contrarily, fiber optic borescopes utilize a fiber optic bundle system with video recording capabilities and an LED display in some instances. Additionally, the rod has numerous joints, which is what provides the tool its flexibility. Further, stainless steel or tungsten braids protect the rod instead of a tube to improve flexibility.

When it comes to choosing the best inspection tool for you, knowing what each one offers can be paramount to making the right choice. We hope you’ll consider some of these critical differences between rigid and fiber optic borescopes when it comes time to make your decision.