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Massive Microscope Sale!

Industrial Microscopes, Microscope Parts, Science Microscopes

McBain Systems is having a 50 year anniversary sale. That's right - McBain has reached the half-century mark and what better way to celebrate than provide you with a high quality microscope at an affordable price.

 

Our microscope sale will include both new and used microscopes, microscope parts and related equipment.

 

Here is a partial list:

  • Olympus microscope parts
  • Leica microscopes
  • Histology equipment
  • Microscope optics
  • XY Stages
  • Microscope cameras

and much more!

 

Bidding Opens: Monday, October 20, 2014

Bidding Closes: Thursday, October 23, 10:00 AM PDT

Inspection: Wednesday, October 22 From 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM PDT

 

Please see the PDF brochure for more information or to bid for equipment please visit: http://mriauctions.com/current-auctions/

Microscope Repair Extends Microscope Life

McBain Systems Expands Microscope Repair and Service

Simi Valley, CA (June 2014) — Advanced microscope systems are increasingly important in a diverse set of high tech fields. In the classroom microscopes are a staple instrument of life sciences education and medical research. In modern factories microscopes are used for inspection of electronics to ensure error reduction and increase production yields. Hospitals and laboratories use microscopes extensively in viewing patient samples. Even the field of criminology has advanced to allow ‘CSI-like’ forensics capabilities for identification of crime scene suspects more accurately than ever before.

 

These are not your grandfather’s simple optical scopes. Today’s high-end microscopes are packaged with advanced microscope cameras for imaging and recording samples, some even in wavelengths beyond the range of the human eye. With the growth of microscope applications and technology improvements the price tags of microscopes are growing as well. The result of these advancements is that a high-end microscope can cost tens of thousands of dollars and some even cost $100,000+. With this type of investment in an instrument it is more important than ever to consider choosing a microscope from a company with a high degree of expertise that can also provide microscope service and repair when needed. Choosing the right microscope service provider now will save customers from a lot of cost and hassle in the future. Additionally, existing microscope owners might consider a Microscope Repair, Refurbishment or upgrade to greatly extend both the life cycle and capabilities of their valuable asset.

 

To meet the growing need for Microscope Repair and Service, McBain Systems has expanded its repair capabilities significantly. McBain Systems specializes in microscope repair and service for virtually all brands of advanced microscopes and has added additional resources to their clinical histology are. Based in California, McBain is now located in a larger Simi Valley facility with a staff of twelve highly qualified microscope repair technicians. According to Michael Crump, CEO of McBain Systems, “For all our microscope repair and service customers we offer personalized support and a comprehensive inventory of microscope parts to service both new and vintage instruments. We are confident we offer the highest quality microscope repair and service for advanced microscopy systems.”

 

For many customers McBain is able to repair or service their existing microscope and save them thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars vs. buying a new microscope. For professional, warrantied work with fast turnaround and fair pricing - contact McBain Systems for a quote today.

 

 

About McBain Systems

McBain Systems is a world-class expert in Microscope Repair and Service and the sales, design, integration and support of advanced microscopy systems since 1965.

 

Contact Information:

McBain Systems Corporate Headquarters

1650 Voyager Avenue

Simi Valley, CA 93063

tel: (805) 581-6800

fax: (805) 581-6801

email: sales@mcbainsystems.com

 

PR Contact:

Nick Steel

mcbainmarketing@gmail.com

 

Microscope Repair and Service Department:

tel: (805) 581-6815

fax: (805) 581-6802

email: servicedept@mcbainsystems.com

McBain Systems Again Recognized as a Fast-Growth Company

December 2012 — McBain Systems of Simi Valley has again been recognized as one of the fastest growing private companies in the area by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. In their November 12, 2012 issue, the Business Journal listed McBain — with 22% growth in revenues since 2009 — as number 43 on their list of the top sixty companies. Download article. McBain also made the list in 2005.

 

McBain Systems' growth has come from the three segments of its business: as the largest distributor of Leica industrial microscopes in North America, as a developer and seller of its own advanced inspection systems, and as a provider of service and repair for microscopes and other instruments. On the microscope side, McBain represents Leica Microsystems' Industrial Division in the territory extending from southern California through the Southwest to Louisiana. McBain's own proprietary systems are used for imaging, inspection, metrology and more, and they are sold worldwide, into semiconductor, cleantech, medical equipment, aerospace and numerous other advanced technology industries. In the service segment of its business, McBain provides mechanical and electrical repair, calibration and reconditioning for a broad spectrum of microscopes and ancillary equipment as well as for its own proprietary systems.

 

"I'm really proud of our people and their performance, that they've put us on the Business Journal’s fastest growing business list once again," said McBain’s president and CEO, Michael Crump. “I think it also proves that especially in challenging economic times, our customers need the types of high-performance instruments and systems we sell, ones that give extra value for the dollar."

 

McBain Systems is a privately held company, founded in 1965. Formerly known as McBain Instruments, it was based in Chatsworth, CA. In 2008, the company relocated to new headquarters in Simi Valley and also changed its name to McBain Systems to more accurately reflect the scope of its current charter, which includes the engineering, manufacturing, sales and service of complete integrated systems. McBain also maintains regional offices in Chandler, AZ, and Irving, TX.

Near Infrared Techniques Find MEMS Defects

NIR inspection systems range from manual benchtop systems used mostly in the lab to fully automated tools used on the fab production floor.

By Ann R. Thryft, Contributing Technical Editor

 

From Test & Measurement World, September 2010

 

Detecting defects within MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) is not an easy task. The components inside these structures are a varied mix of electrical circuits, mechanical devices, and sensors. The most common defects in MEMS—subsurface cracks, particle contamination, and voids—often occur in the substrate or in the bond between the wafer and the device, so it is difficult to detect them with inspection methods that use transmitted light. Nondestructive methods for inspecting MEMS include ultrasound-based acoustic inspection, x-ray, SWIR (short-wave infrared), and NIR (near infrared), said Tom Persico, director of technology for McBain Systems.

 

Acoustic-based inspection using ultrasonic fluid immersion is good at finding macro defects but only down to around 100 microns, said Persico. "Although x-ray easily penetrates many materials, the wavelengths are very long, and the longer the wavelength, the worse the resolution," he said. NIR inspection systems, according to Persico, are best for detecting defects down to a micron in size. NIR systems not only find subsurface defects, but also measure critical alignment marks between two die layers, between two wafer layers, or between a die layer and a wafer layer, he said. "Another use we're seeing is detecting process damage, such as from 3-D wafer-stacking processes that are still being fine-tuned."

 

NIR wavelengths are usually defined as starting above the visible spectrum, around 650 nm, and continuing up to wavelengths of about 1000 nm, said Persico. "Just because you can create a NIR image, however, that doesn't mean it shows you what you need to see," he said. "With highly doped parts, extra-thick materials, or rough or unpolished surfaces, you'll need to reach higher wavelengths to see through the material well enough."

 

Different materials may also require different wavelengths. NIR may be high enough for penetrating most silicon substrates but not for some proprietary semiconductor materials. In these cases, you need wavelengths above 1000 nm in the SWIR spectrum. "Our DDR300 NIR system actually uses both, operating between 900 nm and 1700 nm," Persico said.

 

NIR inspection and metrology systems range from manual benchtop systems used mostly in the lab to fully automated tools used on the fab production floor, said Persico. Automated NIR tools are somewhat new. "Some fabs add an IR camera to production equipment, but don't really optimize the tool for NIR," he said. "There are also benchtop microscopes with IR, but they still need to work in conjunction with the software, camera, motion control, and a light source for the particular application."

 

In the future, McBain expects to improve its NIR inspection and metrology systems with new optics for better resolution, typically on the macro side, said Persico. That means smaller pixels, higher pixel density, higher sensitivity, and lower noise. "Customers want to see the same small features in the same field of view but in a larger area, so they don't need to buy two different tools. That's because throughput is everything for semiconductor manufacturers."

McBain's Near-Infrared Inspection System Improving Chip Yields in Malaysia

 

June 2010 — McBain Systems of Simi Valley announced the first sale of its new DDR300 NIR (near infrared) Inspection System to one of the world's largest semiconductor chip manufacturers. Installed in a fab in Kulim, Malaysia, the new defect detection and review (DDR) station is being used to check for subsurface cracks and other defects that are hidden beneath layers of silicon and other semiconductor materials.

 

"The objective is to increase yields in our customer's flip-chip devices," stated McBain President and CEO, Michael Crump in making the announcement. "By all accounts the DDR300 NIR has the highest resolution of all instruments in its class, which is why it's able to deliver a sharper, clearer view of hard-to-detect subsurface defects."

 

The new McBain system operates in the near-infrared spectral range between 900nm and 1700nm and can "see" through a range of silicon and other semiconductor materials, including those with rough surfaces. The DDR300 NIR may be used for both micro- and macro-inspection, to view features from 1µm to over 200µm in size. In addition, an image-stitching capability enables wide-field imaging in high resolution. Two models of the DDR system are available, for inspecting 200mm and 300mm wafers.

 

McBain has a 45-year track record in designing, engineering and manufacturing custom inspection systems for very specific applications. "Near infrared subsurface inspection is a good example of how McBain is able to target a niche application and produce a very high-performance instrument more cost-efficiently than many of the larger manufacturers," explained Mr. Crump.

 

McBain creates custom-engineered systems that address special optical imaging, inspection, analysis and metrology applications for a range of high-precision industries, from semiconductor to disk drive, medical device manufacturing to aerospace. These systems are sold worldwide. In addition, McBain is the exclusive regional dealer for Leica microscopes for industrial applications across the Southwest and South Central U.S. regions, extending from Southern California through Louisiana.

 

McBain is a privately held company, founded in 1965. Formerly known as McBain Instruments, it was based in Chatsworth, CA. In 2008, the company relocated to new headquarters in Simi Valley and also changed its name to McBain Systems to more accurately reflect the scope of its current charter, which includes the engineering, manufacturing, sales and service of complete integrated systems. McBain also maintains regional offices in Chandler, AZ, and Irving, TX.

McBain Systems Named Fast-Growing Regional Microscope Dealer

 

April 2010 — McBain Systems of Simi Valley announced that it has received a "2009 Industry Division Growth Award" from Leica Microsystems. McBain Systems (formerly McBain Instruments) is the country's largest exclusive regional dealer of Leica industrial microscope products and reported a significant increase in Industry Division sales from 2008 to 2009.

 

At Leica's 2010 National Sales Meeting Steve Shaw, VP of Leica Microsystems Industry Division, presented the award to McBain President and CEO, Michael Crump. "We are extremely gratified to receive this recognition," said Mr. Crump in accepting the award, "especially in light of the past year's economic challenges! I attribute this success to our ability to provide individually tailored microscopy solutions and to the innovation, quality and value of the Leica microscope product line. Particularly in financially difficult times, we find that our customers need instruments that are optimally matched to their specific tasks. They need maximum efficiency and performance per dollar spent, and Leica solutions deliver that."

 

McBain is the exclusive regional dealer for Leica microscopes for industrial applications across the Southwest and South Central U.S. region, extending from Southern California through Louisiana. In addition to microscope sales and service, McBain also designs and manufactures custom-engineered proprietary systems that address special imaging, inspection, analysis and metrology applications for a range of high-precision industries, from semiconductor to disk drive, medical device manufacturing to aerospace. McBain's proprietary systems are sold worldwide.

 

McBain is a privately held company, founded in 1965. Formerly known as McBain Instruments, it was based in Chatsworth, CA. In 2008, the company relocated its headquarters to Simi Valley and also changed its name to McBain Systems to more accurately reflect the scope of its current charter, which includes the engineering, manufacturing, sales and service of complete integrated systems. McBain also maintains regional offices in Chandler, AZ, and Irving, TX.

McBain Systems expands its coverage of Leica Microsystems products in the South Central region

 

October 2009 — Leica Microsystems, a technology leader in microscope and image analysis solutions, announces a strategic transition in its market representation for the South Central industrial segment.

 

On October 1, 2009, longtime Leica Microsystems exclusive regional dealer McBain Systems, expands its market coverage for microscope and imaging products to industrial, educational, and forensic customers in the South Central region of the U.S. McBain’s territory now includes southern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

 

“With this strategic change,” said Steve Shaw, Vice President, Leica Microsystems, Industrial Division, North America, “Leica Microsystems will significantly increase our market presence and responsiveness to customers in this important region, and bring high-level, professional expertise and high-quality products to our valued industrial customers.”

 

McBain Systems, headquartered in Simi Valley, CA now brings its 45 years of industrial microscopy and imaging experience to the South Central region. “We are extremely excited about the expanded partnership with Leica Microsystems,” said Michael Crump, President and CEO, McBain Systems. “We look forward to upgrading our product offering and providing an even higher level of expertise and customized, advanced imaging systems to the industrial marketplace."

Open House Inaugurates new McBain Headquarters

 

September 2008 — On September 25th McBain Systems and Leica Microsystems cohosted a festive gathering to celebrate the opening of McBain’s new headquarters facility in Simi Valley, CA. On hand were hundreds of McBain's customers, employees, vendors and other well-wishers, including members of the Simi Valley City Council and Chamber of Commerce. During the festivities, McBain also demonstrated the company's latest microscopy and imaging products, and raffled off Leica microscope prizes.

 

“It was a fitting way to break in the beautiful new McBain facility,” said Alan Paris, Director of Sales at Leica Microsystems.

 

“It was also a great opportunity to show our appreciation to our customers, who've made us successful for over four decades now,” added Michael Crump, McBain's president and CEO. “I think everyone had a good time!”

 

McBain Systems was founded in 1965 and had been headquartered in Chatsworth, CA, until moving to Simi Valley this year. Privately held, McBain Systems is a major Leica microscope distributor and service organization as well as a designer and manufacturer of custom engineered systems for many industrial markets including aerospace, semiconductor, medical device manufacturing, forensics and education. McBain also maintains a regional office in Chandler, AZ, plus sales and service technicians throughout Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and West Texas. McBain's own proprietary systems are sold nationally and worldwide.

 

McBain Instruments Becomes McBain Systems

 

April 2008 — McBain Instruments announced that as of this month the company's name will become McBain Systems. “We are updating our name to better reflect the expanded scope of our current and future business,” stated McBain president and CEO Michael Crump in making the announcement. “We don't simply sell instruments — we provide tailored, comprehensive customer-specific solutions. And these are complete, integrated systems, including engineering and service, for a broad range of advanced imaging, inspection and measurement applications. We feel that our new name better describes our charter going forward.”

 

A new headquarters facility

Coincident with the new name, in April the company will move its headquarters to a new facility in Simi Valley, CA. Since the company was founded in 1965 its headquarters have been located in Chatsworth, CA. “Having been at our current building for over 20 years, we are all very excited to be moving to a brand new facility in Simi Valley,” stated Mr. Crump. “Despite the challenges of the present economy we see many fresh opportunities as we open this new chapter in the McBain story.”

 

In 1965 McBain Instruments was founded by Carl McBain, a former UCLA track star and Perkin Elmer executive. Michael Crump joined McBain as VP of Sales in 1997, and in 2000 he became President and CEO. Prior to McBain, Mr. Crump had been an executive at Olympus America for 10 years. He holds a BS in Genetics from UC Berkeley and an MBA from St. John's University.

 

New McBain Systems headquarters address:

McBain Systems

2665 Park Center Drive Bldg A

Simi Valley, CA 93065

tel: (805) 581-6800

fax: (805) 581-6801

email: sales@mcbainsystems.com

Website: www.mcbainsystems.com

 

The company also maintains a regional sales office at 410 N. Roosevelt Avenue,
Suite 105, Chandler, AZ. Tel: (800) 675-4356.

EV Group Signs Contract with McBain Instruments for Worldwide Distribution of McBain's ZIII-NIR Wafer Inspection System

 

March 2007 — EV Group (EVG), a leading supplier of wafer-bonding and lithography equipment for the advanced packaging, MEMS and semiconductor markets, announced today that it has signed a distribution agreement with McBain Instruments a leading supplier of microscopy systems and custom-integrated imaging solutions. As a global distributor for McBain, this agreement enables EV Group to offer McBain's ZIII-NIR Wafer Inspection System to their customers in combination with EVG process equipment.

 

"The ZIII-NIR Wafer Inspection Tool allows EVG to have a Metrology Tool to check all bonded wafers either post bond (McBain stand alone tool) or pre and post bond (integrated in EVG tools). This approach allows 24/7 production with minimum intervention," said Thomas Wagenleitner, Product Manager from EV Group.

 

The ZIII-NIR Wafer Inspection System is a semi-automated system that features a proprietary reflected-light, near infrared optical package that provides best-in-class NIR sub-nanometer resolution. The system's high throughput and flexible software allows users to make alignment measurements and store images making it ideal for process monitoring. McBain offers the ability to customize system configurations to an exact customer and/or application requirement.

 

"This provides a natural opportunity to expand McBain into new global markets," said Michael Crump, CEO of McBain. "Our ZIII-NIR inspection system is state of the art and is supplementary to EVG Bonding and alignment process systems," he added.
EV Group extends its technology and market leadership by offering complementary partner products, giving our customers a single source to meet all their wafer processing needs.

 

McBain Instruments Introduces New Wafer Loader For Microscopy

 

February 2007 — McBain Instruments, a leading supplier of research, inspection and laboratory microscopes, microscopy systems and custom engineering design services, has announced a newly designed lab tool, the Wafer Handler WL150 and WL200 Series.

 

The innovative semi-automatic wafer inspection device offers high throughput at 750 wafers per hour with smooth, reliable and safe handling of wafers up to 200mm. The new, portable apparatus is an updated and upgraded system that replaces the "Ultrastation" wafer handling system, no longer available from Irvine Optical.

 

Economical and compact, McBain Instruments' new wafer cassettes accommodate either 3" – 6" (WL150) or 5" – 8" (WL200) wafer sizes. The Class 1 cleanroom-compatible wafer handler also features "smart" stepper motors for the drive axis, motors that provide stall and fault detection, linear stages for smooth and repeatable action and vacuum touch end effectors with sensing capabilities. The easy-to-mount device facilitates safer wafer handling with user-defined inspection positions and a strategic spring-loaded counterbalance to support the majority of the load without overloading the Z-axis mechanism.

 

The standard VESA interface makes integration seamless with virtually all major microscopes, optics and inspection devices. The complete system is provided with an intuitive HMI (Human Machine Interface) control box and numeric keypad. It is ideal for labs and automated workstation tasks that require reliable and safe wafer handling and loading. In full production and shipping now, McBain's Wafer Handler modules are available with an exceptional 12-month parts and labor warranty.

 

McBain Twice Recognized as a Fast Growth Company

 

December 2005 — McBain Instruments, a leading supplier of research, inspection and laboratory microscopy systems and custom engineered optical instruments announced today that it has been ranked number 94 in latest list from The Los Angeles Business Journal of Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies. The prominent Los Angeles-based publication compiles an annual ranking of the region's fastest-growing companies.

 

Similarly, in October of this year McBain was ranked number 20 in the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s annual Top 50 Fastest Growing Private Companies list.

 

"I am immensely proud of McBain’s hard-working people and the loyalty of our customers, both of which must be credited for the type of growth we are enjoying,” said Michael Crump, McBain’s president and CEO. “It’s nice to be recognized by our business community and the media.”

 

A privately held firm, McBain Instruments has served the industrial, biomedical and life sciences markets since 1965 from their San Fernando Valley location in Southern California.

McBain Instruments Celebrates 40 years in Microscopy Sales and Custom Integrated Imaging Systems

 

May 2005 — McBain Instruments, a leading supplier of research, inspection and laboratory microscopy systems and custom engineered optical instruments today announces the company's 40th anniversary. The privately held firm has served the industrial, biomedical and life sciences markets since 1965 from their San Fernando Valley location in Southern California.

 

The company was founded by Carl McBain, a UCLA graduate and All-American track star who in 1940 won the National AAU Championship in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in a then American record time of 51.6 seconds, the fastest time in the world that year. Starting with microscope service and repair, Mr. McBain quickly added a sales division and shortly thereafter began engineering custom imaging systems. A portion of the company was sold in 1983 to Warner-Lambert while McBain retained the sales and distribution segments. Pioneering optical designs and creative technical expertise have been the hallmark for McBain Instruments over the past 40 years. Today, Mr. McBain remains active in the business, consulting with the current President and CEO, Michael Crump, who joined the company in 1997.

 

"McBain Instruments has quietly become the premier supplier of advanced imaging and microscopy systems," notes Mr. Crump. He adds, "We are breaking new ground with a variety of new instruments for industrial inspection and live-cell biological research. Our forty years of experience gives us a tremendous advantage in the microscopy industry. Our custom engineering and imaging design services and capabilities lead the way in providing new solutions for microscopy applications and challenges."

McBain Instruments Adds New SW Territory as Exclusive Dealer for Leica Microsystems

 

May 2005 — McBain Instruments, an advanced imaging engineering design firm specializing in research, laboratory and inspection microscopy systems, announces the recent territory expansion for their Leica Microsystems Dealership.

McBain Instruments has been the exclusive regional dealer in Southern California and Nevada since 1993, and has now added Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas territories for Leica Microsystems, Inc. The new southwestern regional office for McBain Instruments is located in Phoenix, Arizona, and will handle equipment sales, service and engineering services for the new area.

 

The Leica Microsystems products that are available through McBain Instruments include microscopy systems for life sciences, confocal and surgical microscopes, specimen preparation and tissue processing instruments, image analysis, imaging systems, and a wide range of medical and laboratory equipment.

 

According to Michael Crump, President and CEO of McBain Instruments, "Our technical expertise in microscopy systems and our knowledge of the Leica Microsystems family of products make this territory expansion a logical next step. We are delighted to offer these products and our microscopy imaging design and engineering services to our customers in the southwestern U. S. region."

 

McBain Instruments is also a U.S. distributor for Yokogawa's laser-scanning confocal imaging microscopy systems used for the study of dynamic processes in living cells.

City of LA Awards Certificate of Appreciation to McBain

 

September 2002 — The City of Los Angeles today presented a “Certificate of Appreciation” award to McBain Instruments for their development of a special mobile field microscope system and kit that can speed the identification of potential bio-hazards in public places. The McBain environology Rapid Threat Assessment Kit (RTAK™) is designed to enable first responder teams to quickly assess the nature of suspicious powder threats in the field. Developed in conjunction with law enforcement professionals and toxicologists, the kit is designed to strengthen current field response protocols.

 

The certificate was presented by Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn and 12th District Councilmember Hal Bernson, “on behalf of the citizens of Los Angeles in extending sincere appreciation to McBain Instruments for its dedication to public safety through innovation protocol to combat bio-terror threats.” The award and plaque were presented to McBain president and CEO Michael Crump at LA City Hall. In developing the new system McBain worked with the Los Angeles Police Department's Hazardous Material / Environmental Crimes Unit.

 

“In our post-9/11 world, it is more critical than ever that potential bio-threats be identified as quickly as possible,” said Mr. Crump in accepting the award. “We were delighted to be able to put our microscopy experience to work to give our country’s public safety people a new tool that can help in that effort.”

 

McBain Instruments is a major Leica microscope distributor and service organization as well as a designer and manufacturer of custom engineered systems for many industrial markets including aerospace, semiconductor, medical device manufacturing, forensics and education.

UCLA Deal Boosts McBain's Profile

 

January 1999 — It was the medical contract of the year for McBain Instruments, maybe of the decade.

 

After months of planning, presentations and negotiations, the Chatsworth-based microscope maker and distributor was chosen last year by the University of California, Los Angeles, to stock and service a new, state-of-the-art imaging center at the college's prestigious Brain Research Institute.

 

When fully operational, the center will give campus scientists access to dozens of sophisticated machines that, among other things, use laser light to image individual cells as they work, without damaging the tissue. The applications range from AIDS research to the study of brain tumors and multiple sclerosis.

 

It wasn't the center's price tag that made the project so attractive to McBain. Over five years the project will bring several hundred thousand dollars in sales to the firm, but McBain already provides more than $20 million worth of equipment to the electronics and biomedicine sectors annually.

 

The real draw was the chance to create a high-profile showcase for McBain's razzle-dazzle products and, in the process, cozy up to the UCLA name.

 

McBain is not losing money on the deal, but "we gave them extremely advantageous pricing and are basically treating them like a long-lost cousin," said Michael Crump, the company's director of sales who served as point man in talks with the school.

 

The feeling appears to be mutual. In getting top-notch equipment and round-the-clock service at a bargain-basement price, UCLA officials say they've struck a rare balance between serving the needs of academia and industry.

 

The idea for the center, which last month opened as the Carol Moss Spivak Imaging Core Facility, came in early 1997 when Dr. Anthony Campagnoni, associate director of the brain institute, realized that the facility's single confocal microscope was serving the entirety of UCLA's neuroscience staff — a crew of more than 200 researchers from 25 different departments.

 

Not only was demand on the high-powered machine heavy, but the microscope itself was, year by year, falling further behind the technological curve.

 

"We wanted to find a mechanism to bring us up to state of the art, or at least of the commercial art, and it was my idea . . . that we could have a competition," Campagnoni said.

 

The high-end microscope market is controlled by four firms from two countries: Japan's Olympus and Nikon; and Germany's Carl Zeiss and Leica Microsystems. U.S. companies once ranked equally high, but names like American Optical and Bausch & Lomb were, over the years, acquired by or merged with larger players.

 

After the better part of a year arranging funding for the center and establishing competitive ground rules, Campagnoni sought out local distributors of the Big Four, asking each to provide its vision of what shape such a university-industry collaboration would take.

 

Campagnoni said he wanted the firms to fight for the right to become "the sole supplier of the best equipment they had to offer."

 

"It was brutal," said Crump, whose company represents Leica. McBain, whose founder, Carl McBain, is coincidentally a UCLA graduate, put hundreds of hours into preparing its three-hour presentation, going so far as to fly in extra help from out of state.

 

The presentation, in September 1997, went without a hitch. But then the questions began. What warranties can you offer? How about pricing? And, after all, what's so great about your machines?
What little consolation McBain could take from the ordeal came from the knowledge that the firm's three competitors were facing the same onslaught.

 

Campagnoni and his advisers eventually winnowed the field down to McBain and a firm representing Zeiss, and each was asked to bring in its equipment for a series of test drives. Given that Zeiss and Leica are "the equivalent of Mercedes and a Lexus," however, Campagnoni said it was support and service that proved the deciding factor.

 

With the advent of computer chips in the 1960s and '70s, high-end microscopes left the realm of free-standing machines and became highly modulized devices, with pricey peripherals mixed and matched to achieve the desired technique.

 

In managing the dozens of modules a center like UCLA's brain institute would need, "We hadn't realized how important having a local supplier would be," Campagnoni said. Having access to technicians familiar with all the parts and located just a few miles away became crucial.

 

Though open less than a month and not yet stocked with its centerpiece — a $200,000-plus multi-photon scanning microscope that can study cells deep within a tissue sample — the imaging center already is starting to pay marketing dividends, Crump said.

 

In addition to making the center available to potential McBain clients for real-world demonstrations, UCLA officials say students who leave to start their own businesses often buy the same brand of equipment on which they were trained.

 

"We're trying to use the publicity as much as we can, using the name of UCLA and of the core facility ... and we're seeing some coattails," Crump said.