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Interview with TAGARNO’s CEO Søren Schultz

For more than 60 years, TAGARNO has created cutting-edge solutions that allow customers to see smarter. With a mission of maximizing efficiency, enhancing communications, increasing collaboration, and improving customers’ work environments, the company’s digital microscopes make the invisible visible while creating intelligent connections between technology and humans. We recently spoke with CEO Søren Schultz to find out more about the company and how its technology benefits the industry.

Can you describe TAGARNOs mission and how it strives to help its customers see smarter?

At TAGARNO, we don’t just enable magnification. We offer advanced features and software that the microscope operators can use to work more efficiently and achieve more accurate results when using a TAGARNO digital microscope to inspect or analyze their products.  For that reason, we don’t just helpcompanies to see their products. We enable them to see more and to see smarter.

TAGARNO has been in operation for more than 60 years. How has the companys focus evolved over time while maintaining its vision and values?

We can’t say that we’ve produced digital microscopes since the beginning. The technology and idea simply weren’t there back then. But the company was founded 70 years ago when a man called Tage Arnø developed an analysis projector of X-ray film on a user-friendly, built-in screen. He was actually a cinema projector producer and realized that he could use the design of the cinema projector to design the X-ray film projector. This became a huge success and is still referred to as simply a TAGARNO within the medical industry to this day. Later, Arnø sold the company and under the new company structure, we launched the world’s first high-definition reading aid before eventually launching a line of high-definition digital microscopes. This may seem like three very different products, but they have one thing in common: They all focus on displaying an image and enabling the user to see more than with the naked eye.

What are the key values and attributes that TAGARNO associates with its Scandinavian roots and heritage?

Scandinavian design is honored worldwide for its simple yet beautiful appearance. Creating innovative and user-friendly products that are both simple and beautiful to look at is a significant part of the TAGARNO design DNA. We also design, engineer, and produce everything in Denmark to ensure high quality throughout our entire value chain. We also honor our Scandinavian roots and our founder, Tage Arnø, every day simply with the name of the company. TAGARNO is a portmanteau of Tage Arnø’s name. Without Arnø’s X-ray film projector, TAGARNO as a company wouldn’t be here today.

How has TAGARNO expanded its global presence over the years and what markets does it currently cover?

We started producing digital microscopes in the early 2000s and have continuously onboarded new distributors so today we have more than 50 distributors covering Asia, Europe, Australia,and parts of Africa. In 2020, we established our own NorthAmerican subsidiary located in Atlanta, GA so Americas are covered by a mix of sales representatives and local distributors.

Although we’re covered basically worldwide, customers may be located far away from where our representatives are located. In these cases, we offer online demos so the customer can see the products without having to physically host us at their premises. It’s also a great option if employees from different locations need to participate in the demo. That’s something that’s being requested more and more so we’re offering a mix of online and offline coverage.

Can you briefly explain to our readers how TAGARNOs digital microscopes enhance quality analysis and contribute to improved communication, collaboration, and work environments?

TAGARNO’s digital microscopes enhance quality analysis by providing the best live image on the market with 60 frames per second. The microscopes areintuitive and comfortable to use even if the user is new to digital microscopy. They can also choose between different software to work more efficiently and achieve more accurate results than by doing the analyses manually.

Finally, it’s the design of the microscopes themselves that improve communication, collaboration, and work environments. By being able to look at a monitor rather than through an eyepiece, colleagues can gather round the microscope and inspect a sample together. If needed, they can take a photo of what’s shown on the monitor with a press of a button and send it via e-mail to remote colleagues or business partners. They can also share the microscope live image in an online meeting for quicker problem solving if issues occur in the production. They also have more freedom of movement because they can place the monitor at eye level and change between sitting down and standing up. This is more comfortable for them, which is important to note because studies show that 80% of microscope operators experience job-related musculoskeletal pain and 20% have missed work because of musculoskeletal pain. Studies show that introducing simple ergonomic intervention methods can significantly reduce eyestrain, headaches, and extremity fatigue. In fact, the company in this study ended up with significant savings in annual customer returns because they also managed to reduce their PCB escape rate by improving the work environment.

What are the primary benefits of using TAGARNO’s digital microscopes, and how do they differ from traditional microscopes?

The primary benefits of using TAGARNO’s digital microscopes include improved communication, collaboration, and work environments. It’s having access to software that helps usersmake more accurate and efficient analyses. All of this sets the digital microscopes apart from traditional microscopes.

However, the TAGARNO digital microscopes are also an optically simpler solution that allows for broader magnification capabilities. That means using the same digital microscope for lower and higher power magnification. All a user needs to do is change the lens. With traditional microscopes, users have to change between multiple systems if they want to go from low to high power magnification or vice versa.

Lastly, TAGARNO’s digital microscopes have manual as well as auto focus. Auto focus is what ensures that the PCB is always in focus even as it is moving around. By comparison, traditional microscopes typically only offer manual focus.

TAGARNO offers a range of digital microscopes. Can you provide a short overview of these models and their specific features?

We currently offer six digital microscopes. They all use the same full HD camera and provide 60 frames per second to ensure the best possible live image. The difference, however, lies in how advanced the microscopes are. We typically group them into two groups: Our entry-level microscopes and our softwarecompatible microscopes.

The ZIP and ZAP are our entry-level microscopes. They are great for magnification tasks that require no assistance from software. This includes soldering and reworking faulty PCBs or simply doing a quick GO/NO GO inspection.

If you want to measure the distance between components or do a side-by-side comparison to a golden sample, you need one of the advanced microscopes: MOVE, FRONT, TREND, or PRESTIGE. These microscopes are also great if you have high documentation needs because you don’t need a separate computer to take photos with these microscopes.

In 2021, we introduced the TAGARNO Power box, a processing unit that activates advanced features on the otherwise simple ZAP microscope. Being able to add new features to a microscope to avoid replacing it as needs or processes change is very appealing to our customers, especially those that are new to the world of digital microscopy.

At the end of 2023, we launched a microscope with 4K and 60 frames per second. While there are digital microscopes with 4K resolution already available on the market, they typically operate at a frame rate of 30 frames per second. This limitation causes a noticeable lag between the actual microscope view and what is displayed on the monitor, leading to discomfort and reduced efficiency for users. We recognize the importance of a seamless and lag-free viewing experience and deliberately chose to not launch a 4K microscope until we could provide the best possible live image with this camera technology. Once we did, we were able to introduce the new digital microscope with a 4K/60 camera that eliminates the lag, ensuring real-time visualization and enhancing productivity for professionals working with microscopic inspection. In addition to the microscopes, what software and accessories does TAGARNO provide to complement its digital microscopy solutions? We currently have a total of 13 software options for our microscopes. These include the bestselling Measurement app where users get access to a variety of measurement tools with 0.003% accuracy and annotation tools, the Image comparison app where users can build their own image library and do side-by-side comparisons to golden samples, as well as the DXF overlay where the outline of a PCB is used as a heads-up display to quickly confirm the component placements. Userscan also use the still images or live stream from the microscopes on any AI platform or use the AI platform itself to control the microscope through our open API. Lastly, the microscopes also come with a variety of complementary features such as presets, an on-screen ruler and auto capture mode that takes photos in a userdefined interval. In terms of accessories, light settings can be saved as a presetwhen using the TAGARNO ring light, ensuring consistency in the settings across inspections and eliminating manual adjustment of the microscope, allowing users to work more efficiently. The foot switch, used for manually controlling the zoom level or manual focus with feet, is also commonly used. With the foot switch, users can put their feet to work while keeping their hands on the PCB.

Which industries does TAGARNO’s digital microscope technology cater to, and how do these microscopes benefit various sectors, including electronics, medical devices, agriculture, foods, metals, plastics, and forensics?

The TAGARNO digital microscopes, as well as the software, are very versatile in that they’re not developed for specific industries. Anyone that uses magnification as part of their work can essentially use a digital microscope.

What makes them so versatile is the fact that users can choose between which software they need. That also means that there’s a big difference in what microscope solution customers choose and how they benefit from using it. Some industries choose TAGARNO as their digital microscope supplier because of the quality of the live image and easy documentation processes of the microscopes while others, like the electronics industry, often customize their microscopes with software like Measurement, Image comparison, and DXF overlay when using the microscopes in their quality control. MedTech on the other hand often uses the PNG reference app to create customized heads-up displays for their quality control while the Agriculture industry often uses the Ruler app for quick size verifications.

Can you elaborate on how TAGARNO’s digital microscopes benefit the electronics industry, specifically in terms of PCB inspection and quality control?

Absolutely. In electronics, our digital microscopes are often used at the beginning of a new production line. After producing the first PCB, an operator then goes to their microscope to check if everything looks OK. This can be done either by a simple visual inspection or by using software like Measurement, Image comparison, or DXF overlay. They often take a lot of photos at this step to capture what’s going to be their golden sample going forward or to forward the photos to a customer or colleague if they need to discuss how to proceed.

Many also use the microscopes with a foot switch for reworking and soldering faulty PCBs because they’re more comfortable to use than desk magnifiers or stereo microscopes and because of the 60 frames per second display that ensures that there’s no delay between what’s happening underneath the microscope and on the monitor.

How do TAGARNOs digital microscopes compare to traditional desk magnifiers and optical microscopes in terms of efficiency and effectiveness?

Digital microscopes increase efficiency and effectiveness in twoways: One, by offering software that introduces new, more efficient, and accurate ways of doing quality control and documenting/sharing your findings and two, by being more comfortable to use than traditional magnification systems. By being more comfortable to use, operators don’t experience the same level of job-related pain and fatigue, and when combined with software, the operators can work more efficiently and achieve more accurate inspection and analysis results.