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Cleaning Optical Components and Instruments

A user note for correct cleaning and caring of microscopes and other optical instruments and components.

Cleaning of plastic and glass lenses requires care and suitable supplies. The desired result is a clean and fibre-free lens surface without scratching the lens surface or any coatings.

To remove immersion-oil from an objective lens Kimwipes are efficient and convenient. They absorb oil and they are non-linting when used without rubbing. A drop of xylene applied to the Kimwipe cleans the remaining oil-film on a lens. Kimwipes and lens tissues in particular are useful to protect delicate components. Lens tissues are low absorbent and less useful to remove immersion oil.

When lenses require rubbing to remove unwanted dirt films or particles it is wise to initially blow-off any dust particles which could scratch a fine surface; Puffers are suitable for this, blowing by mouth tends to add spittle to compound the problem.

After removing lose particles, a glass, plastic or lens surface may require wiping - without leaving dust and fibre particles. The most suitable, lint-free materials are Microfibre clothes small and large. These are the most effective cleaning cloth for lenses, glass, computer screens and instrument bodies and for many applications they work impressively without any solvent or other chemical cleaning agents.

For final cleaning of important optical components we recommend 3M Novec Contact Cleaner. This material was originally developed to clean electrical contacts, particularly in low voltage connection. It is now used as the best final cleaner for fibre optical joints as it dissolves many contaminants, it is non-flammable and does not harm most plastics. Best of all is leaves absolutely no trace on optical surfaces, which makes it superbly suited for cleaning high voltage insulators, the ends of light conducting rods and fibres, lenses, prisms and front coated optical mirrors.

Removal of fungi in lens assemblies may require specialist skills, but the actual removal of such nasty coatings is made easy with our 'Jewellery cleaner'. This cleaner is also very effective in 'rejuvenating' the appearance of plastic which had been exposed to the elements.

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