About Autoscan Pty Ltd

Taking your Fission Track Lab to the next level

Very briefly:

Serving science since 1979
Incorporated in Victoria, Australia, in 1984
Web presence since 1995
Systems installed in 28 countries (as of 2020), and with multiple systems in many countries
C-tick (EMC regulations) accredited

Briefly:

Autoscan Systems Pty. Ltd. is an Australian scientific instrument manufacturing company which first manufactured equipment for the  geological technique of fission track dating in 1979, and which was incorporated under the current name in 1984. Since that time, we have become the world's leading manufacturer and supplier of automated microscope stages. Our equipment, which has sold well in 28 countries to date, takes the tedium out of techniques associated with optical microscopes, and is known and respected as the "Rolls Royce/Cadillac" of microscope systems (as is our after-sales service).

We offer complete solutions for a range of scientific disciplines based on our special-purpose high-precision PC-controlled and motorised fully integrated Carl Zeiss optical laboratory microscopes.

If you find yourself in the vicinity of our office in Melbourne, Australia, please drop in (see address and contact details below). We will be happy to give you a demonstration of our latest equipment, a preview of our coming software attractions, and talk about your requirements over a cup of good coffee (life is too short for bad coffee !). If you have any special needs, please contact us.

The full story:

Autoscan Systems Pty. Ltd. is a manufacturer and supplier of scientific instruments to a world-wide clientele. Our early beginnings go back to 1979, when our "forebears" created a brand-new tool for use in geological microscope-related techniques. We were incorporated as a company in our current name in 1984, and have since become the world's leading manufacturer and supplier of automated microscope systems. Our equipment, which has sold well in 28 countries to date (many of these with multiple installations), takes the tedium out of techniques associated with optical microscopes, and is known and respected as the "Rolls Royce/Cadillac" of microscope systems.

We have been awarded a number of Excellence Awards, and our customer base is growing at a steady rate.

We previously built our own Autoscan stages inhouse, and this was essentially a piece of robotic equipment, consisting of a three-axis motor-driven platform. It replaced the "stage" that normally carries the glass slide and sample on an optical microscope. Our Autoscan stages used dc servo motors for the X and Y (left-right and forward-backward) and Z (vertical, or focus) motions. The fact that the focus motion was built right into our stages represented a major plus in many applications at that time. It left the microscope's focus mechanism free for separate (manual) manipulation. To the best of our knowledge, ours was the only microscope stage in the world at the time, which incorporated integral motorised sub-micron increment movements in all three axes. (A human hair, for reference, is typically 50 to 80 microns in cross-section - thickness depends on colour). Movement of the stage was initiated by means of a special 3-axis joystick. The stage was controlled by an electronic controller box, to which commands were in turn issued from a computer.

Since that time, technology has moved on. The Zeiss AxioImager microscopes which our software controls now have focus accuracy measured in nanometers ! And since 3-axis stages are no longer the most critical item, we now include a Zeiss-supplied stage in our systems. There are two choices : as a standard item, we supply the Zeiss stepper-motor driven stage, which is totally adequate for most labs. As an optional extra, we also offer the larger Piezo-motor driven stage, and a special slide holder (based on our [atented design) which will accept 6 samples on 25 x 30 mm glass carriers at a time.

In its original geological application (known as Fission Track Dating, or FTD), the Autoscan stage assisted in the comparison of corresponding points contained in two images which are randomly aligned in space, which are mirror-images, and which are situated at different heights on the microscope slide. The difficulties of such a technique cannot be overestimated : our equipment was said to save 80% of an experienced operator's time. The resulting relief from tedium provided by our Trakscan™ package ensured world-wide acceptance of our system at that time.

The latest, most exciting development (and which is the result of a 3-year collaborative research project in conjunction with the FTD group at the University of Melbourne, which is headed by Professor A.J.W. Gleadow) was the development of a version of our software which incorporates fully automated counting of fission tracks, both on the apatite grain as well as on the mica (in the case of the EDM technique. But please see also a brief description of the new La ICP-MS technique, in Fission track/Applications. This emerging technique, becoming more and more widely accepted, was originally dirven by the closure of reactors in many countries. But in fact, it also provides a much faster and much more comprehensive data set than the EDM approach). This is a world-first achievement which follows decades of failed attempts by other groups - the many types of artefact and natural defects in apatite crystals, coupled with hitherto insufficiently sophisticated technology, previously rendered such automation unachievable. In particular, the rise of much faster and more powerful computing hardware and software, as well as the rise of digital cameras with greater image resolution and smaller pixel sizes, have been the enabling factor for this wonderful development in our software (which is now patented). It is now possible to completely bypass a very tedious and time-consuming aspect of the FTD technique.

Our product has been featured in many local and overseas publications, including magazines in the UK, India, the USA and Japan. As early as 1986, we gained the coveted QANTAS/AUSTRADE export award for export excellence, and since that time we have either gained, or been nominated for, a variety of other export excellence-related awards. We are extremely pleased to be able to make a meaningful contribution to Australia's export effort.

The four key strengths which we believe make our business successful are :

  1. A high-quality product which answers the needs of the market, and which allows our staff to be convinced of its excellence,
  2. Dedicated and knowledgeable staff, committed to ensuring that the product and the company succeed, and able to provide superior customer service (which many of our clients have remarked favourably upon),
  3. A market which recognises the advantages conferred by our equipment. These advantages are the tangible time-savings and the avoidance of tedious aspects of the work with microscopes. Such advantages are, to some extent, "recession-proof", since they translate to reduced labour costs and improved quality and quantity of output.
  4. A company ethos based on absolute committment to our customers, and a recognition that a business is only as good as its customers and potential customers perceive it to be.

CONFERENCES:

We have stayed close to our markets by attending every conference where possible. We also usually supplied sponsorhip. This took the form of door-prizes, satchels for all delegates, and/or allowing students to attend the conferences. We also usually set up a stand to show off our latest products. Apart from a couple of exceptions, which we were not able to attend (shown in brackets), we have been to all of the following:

1986 Cambridge, UK (ICOG)
1988 Besançon, France FTD 06
1990 Canberra, Australia ICOG 7
1992 Philadelphia, PA, USA FTD 07
1994 (Berkeley, CA, USA ICOG 8)
1996 (Ghent, Belgium FTD 08)
1998 (Beijing, P.R. China ICOG 9)
2000 Lorne, Vic, Australia FTD 09
2002 Cadiz, Spain, ECTC (European Meetings)
2004 Amsterdam, Netherlands FTD 10
2006 Bremen, Germany, ECTC (European Meetings)
2007 Virtual presence at Pisa, Italy, Workshop
2008 (Anchorage, AK, USA FTD 11 – unable to attend, but sponsored jackets)
2010 Glasgow, UK FTD 12
2012 Guilin, P.R. China FTD 13
2014 Chamonix, France FTD 14
2016 (Maresias, Brazil FTD 15)
2018 Quedlinburg, Germany FTD 16
2020 (Postponed) Santa Fe, NM, USA FTD 17

We also attended (and often sponsored) the following :

2003 Geelong, Melbourne - Microscopy by the Bay
2003 Hobart, Tas – ARPS Conference
2006 Beijing, China - ICNTS 23 (Delivered address to meeting)
2006 London, UK – Microscience