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Build or Buy? How to Speed Your Digital Microscope to Market

Developing a digital imaging device is a multi-disciplinary endeavor. High quality components need to be linked and fused to achieve a unified optical engine. While the complexity of developing a digital imaging device can seem intimidating, it also offers the opportunity to harness the power of combined efforts, working with leading experts to accelerate the process. Read on to find out how to speed your digital microscope to market.

, Marlen Stockmann

Build or buy?

JENOPTIK SYIONS® consists of a set of configurable modules for light source, optics, electronics, sensors and software perfectly matched

Digital imaging devices are a synergy of life science expertise and stellar engineering

When building your own digital imaging device, you as a product manager are faced with the question if the investment of time, cost, and resources of such an endeavor is justified. What is more, when working with contractors and vendors from various industries, misunderstandings, ambiguous goals, difference in opinions, scope creep, and a subpar product are often the result.

State-of-the-art digital imaging devices are a synergy of life science expertise and stellar engineering. In molecular testing, optics, electronics, and software components and fused to provide high quality analysis of samples at record speed, while maintaining ease-of-use.

Electronics and software components play a crucial part when it comes to overall usability. From the size of the device, to reliability, serviceability, and options to integrate with other molecular diagnostic testing devices, the underlying electronic and software components are essential. Identifying specification and design requirements for electronics and software components therefore requires experts in electrical engineering, computer science, and programming. These resources are hard to find and come with a hefty price tag. In addition, the time it takes to get a team of external experts up to speed, and up and running is significant.

The solution is to find an ally who offers a long-standing and well-established network of engineers, scientists, universities, and suppliers, giving you access to the best strategic partners out there.

Why you should care where your PCBA and SDK come from?

What is the best strategy for you?

What is the best strategy for you?

A digital imaging device is based on a Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA). The PCBA is the mechanical foundation of the electronic heart of the device and determines size, power, and diversity of use of the application. The PCBA serves as the electrical headquarters of your device and the design of the PCBA is therefore crucial to obtain a customizable yet fit-for-purpose optical engine. What is more, since the PCBA is the foundation on which your optical engine is built, even the smallest flaw or oversight in design can dramatically impact any future application or integration of your digital imaging device. A well-designed PCBA on the other hand allows you to miniaturize your device, reduce the complexity of maintenance, and reduce overall cost of production.
A custom-made PCBA, encompassing your core technology, designed to seamlessly integrate with corresponding software subsystems is essential to join peripherals together.

Designing and building a PCBA that seamlessly integrates with software, optics, and other PCBAs requires high levels of expertise in electrical engineering. The attempt to save time and money by buying a generic, ready-made PCBA to base your optical engine on can cost you significantly more time and money in the long run. Do not risk compatibility and integration issues, discontinued components, and lack of options to expand your application.

Similar principles apply to the software components of your digital imaging device. How software is incorporated in your digital imaging application and the choice of programming language defines compatibility and options to integrate with other interfaces. The choice of software design and programming language determines the usability of your application, from maintenance and upgrades, to data quality and day-to-day use in the lab. What is more, customizable software solution and a corresponding Software Development Kit (SDK), all desired functions can be integrated into a bigger software project.

Generic software packages may seem like a quick and no-hassle solution for digitalization in microscopy, but the inherent rigidity of those solutions will limit the usability and integration options of your application in the future.

JENOPTIK SYIONS®, the system integrators


JENOPTIK SYIONS® unique approach to unifying systems offers you a single source strategy, working with a select number of premium suppliers and world leading experts to design and build a custom PCBA and software components that are uniquely fitted for your optical imaging application.

JENOPTIK SYIONS®’ system is open source, an essential key aspect for your optical imaging engine: interfacing with other PCBAs and programming languages is possible and simple to do. You can use JENOPTIK SYIONS®’ Python-based SDK to start out and move to a mature product based on C++ when they are ready. The agility offered by the unique JENOPTIK SYIONS® custom design approach saves you money and resources, while speeding your digital imaging device to the market.

© Jürgen Scheere
JENOPTIK SYIONS® also offers the “Jena Factor”: a long-standing and well-established network of engineers, scientists, universities, and suppliers, giving you access to the best technologies in one place. Make Jenoptik your one-stop-shop for optical, electronic, and software expertise.

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Marlen Stockmann

About Marlen Stockmann

As Project Manager, Marlen Stockmann is responsible for the planning and managing of various technology-driven Jenoptik projects in the Light & Optics division – from concept to market launch. Her main focus is on the management and realization of novel key technologies in the Healthcare & Life Science sector with a focus on intelligent imaging solutions relevant for example for life sciences research, as well as clinical diagnosis and drug discovery. Thanks to her degree in general management, she knows the functional management areas allowing to efficiently achieving the project objectives.

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