Looking for olympus IX71/IX81 parts

We are desperately searching for either the nosepiece stage (IX2-NPS) or the active focus stabilization system (ZDC) for the first generation of the Olympus IX71/IX81 microscope body.

Where would be a good place to look for these parts?

Thanks in any case!

This is the Olympus branded PI piezo stage and laser module you are looking for? For a single objective or the entire objective turret? Are you looking for it to replace a malfunctioning one or as an add-on? There is a lot to it, a lot of small bits and pieces, and you may also need a card for the UCB and set DIP switches on all the cards in the UCB accordingly, amongst other things…

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I’m asking for someone not on this forum actually.

I’m surprised that I just saw your answer today for some reason it didn’t pop up earlier.

They’re looking for the entire apparatus in both cases, as far as I know. I can ask for further details if I didn’t clarify enough.

thanks for following my question,

At my previous employer when I was not installing and repairing microscopes and imaging equipment, was part of a team developing a piezoelectric product line (chips not stages). The reasoning behind this was that other business units (BU) used piezos from a variety of manufacturers. Our first task was to design a drop in replacement for another BU, because that was the single most expensive part and it often failed.

A large part of the product development involved accelerated ageing, in a high temp, high humidity environment at high voltage. This simulates normal use over several years. In a car’s fuel injection system, the piezo is hermetically sealed in a steel cylinder with an inert gas, and lasts many years. However in a stage, the piezo element is either comprised of many individual chips glued to form a stack wrapped in Kapton tape or it is a single large chip sealed with an epoxy. These types do not last for more than a few years, with the later lasting slightly longer (PI uses the later in their stages). The environment degrades them over time.

We used a laser interferometer, which has much higher resolution than a microscope to test them. So it might look “ok” and the stage might move, but it is not that easy to tell if it is good.

Once a microscope customer dropped a PI stage. It looked “ok” and still moved. However the individual chips were cracked and the flexure was damaged. It had to be sent back to PI for testing and replacement. Also, keep in mind that new, they have shipping brackets and are vacuum sealed often with a desiccant. It is likely that small parts such as the original packaging and shipping bracket have been lost over the years and that any secondhand seller is not going to vacuum seal it.

Also, the stage and controller are matched and are not interchangeable as the PID of the controller is tuned to match characteristics of its stage. It is possible to re-tune, after a stage is damaged or for a different stage, but not a simple proposition.

I would recommend you send any secondhand stage purchased back to PI for testing and repair (same if they already have one which is malfunctioning). Olympus probably won’t be of much help as its an OEM product and also these are older discontinued models. This needs to be accounted when you consider the cost. It is worth considering to buy a new, non-Olympus branded stage instead.


Our lab often has had success purchasing 2nd hand parts for discontinued systems from Taobao. The screenshots are old microscope listings but are not selling one for 1 CNY (~0.15 USD) or a microscope collection for 99999 CNY (~15000 USD). Just to show that the seller has a lot of equipment and parts. May seem an unlikely/strange option. Many vendors doing this sort of business. It is not easy to find many parts for old systems except by stripping them from another. Likewise the vendor is unlikely to sell a used system whole, as institutional customers need warranties/service. Dozens of vendors as a consequence of e-waste being sent to China for “recycling” and old equipment from domestic institutions.

Its easy enough to use the international English version of Taobao or Google translate to search the Chinese version if you don’t have someone who can read Chinese. Once you contact a vendor you can often just use English. A lot of universities have Chinese graduate students who can help.




Probably more than most normal people want to know about piezos. :roll_eyes:

A lot of variables besides the condition of the stage (the AF laser, UCB cards, cabling, many small hardware revisions, etc.). Maybe best to suggest they begin budgeting for an IX-83 and figure out which parts (not many from the 71/81 - keep it as a spare?) they can re-use from their existing scope unless they can manage with a 3rd party piezo stage.

Let me know if you are still looking for a IX2-NPS. I may have one we could part with.

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Wow, many thanks!

I’ll ask and get back to you.

Hi @Travis_Beck, it is me Daniel created this post for (many thanks again Daniel!).

Can you please give me some details on the condition and the price range you have in mind? You can reach me via sass@uni-heidelberg.de.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Another issue is that the piezo itself acts as a capacitor and mechanical force induces a charge. When the stages are new they are discharged and a shorting plug is placed on the connector, before being vacuum sealed. This prevents them from accumulating a charge due to motion/force during transport.

If there is a charge in the piezo, several things may happen:

  1. Get a nasty shock by putting your fingers on the connector
  2. There can be arcing which damages the piezo itself
  3. Connecting it may damage the controller

Also, the piezo will retain a charge if the stage is disconnected from the controller, without being put back to the “0” position and allowed to discharge.

Piezos retain charge for quite some time (weeks, months).

As previously mentioned about the shipping plates and original packaging to protect the mechanics, the shorting plugs are usually one of those things that gets lost/thrown out. Again, by damage, it might appear to be “working” or “moving.” The capacitive or resistive sensor and PID in the controller provide relative measurement of motion, not absolute. In other words if the stage/flexure or piezo is damaged, the controller has no way of sensing this. The controller will continue driving the piezo as though it were working properly, based upon the PID tuning and feedback from the sensor. Besides interferometers, an impedance analyzer is used to QC these (to check resonance instead of measuring travel). Amongst other equipment (LCR to adjust mechanical pre-load), and the SOP the engineer has provided to the technician assembling them, there is little chance they are serviceable by the end-user. Its not possible to simply disassemble the stage, change the piezo and put it back together, hoping it will preform properly.

Large PIFOC stages for single “heavy” objectives or inverted microscopes typically use 3 piezo “stacks” in parallel to a single objective. Other large stages, often have two piezo “stacks” perpendicular to the the objectives (such as Z add-on for XY stages or the NPS). Its not really possible for the piezo or flexures to have been damaged exactly the same, thus the stage translates non-linearly even though it is a closed-loop system or in a slightly “lop-sided” motion (not only in Z).

Sorry, my main point is that you should ask the vendor/seller to send it to PI if you are intent on buying the Olympus branded parts (PIFOC is just a trademark of PI - it is not really an Olympus part). Get the vendor/seller to CC you on the emails from PI. In the past, I have sent some stages/controllers to PI in China. They didn’t charge anything to test and evaluate them. In the case there was a problem, they would provide details and an informal estimate for non-warranty repair, and let us decided if we wanted it repaired. So it is reasonable option to ask @Travis_Beck to do this as the HQ for PI is in Germany (better than eBay or Taobao). Besides, they can provide the appropriate packaging, shipping plates, shorting plug, etc. for a small fee, even if there is nothing wrong. However, it can cost 60% or more when compared to the cost of a new stage to repair it (the machined metal components are a very small portion of the cost). Besides, the piezo this is because it is a significant amount of manual labor. Piezo stages are a significant investment. You need them to be precise and repeatable, so factory evaluated or refurbished is the only way I would buy them 2nd hand, regardless of manufacturer.

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