We use cookies necessary for the functioning and optimization of our website. We do not retain any personal data once the session has ended except that which is necessary to process an order that you have placed through the website.

For more information, please read our Privacy Policy.


84000PELCO® Precision Thinning Tools
Materials Science Supplies Overview
PELCO® Dimpler™ Accessories

PELCO® Dimpler™

Precision polishing system for TEM specimen thinning and site-specific analysis

PELCO Dimpler

The PELCO® Dimpler™ is the latest model in the evolution of the Dimpler line formerly available from South Bay Technology and provides Automated Precision Thinning of Specimens for TEM Analysis, for deprocessing and failure analysis, and similar applications where targeted fine polishing is required. It is a precision electro-mechanical metallographic lapping in­strument that will continuously monitor and control dimpling parameters and accurately terminate at a preset specimen thickness. This electronic and mechanical integration has added repeatability and reliability to the dimpling process, as well as automation.

Active monitoring of the Z-position, feedback-controlled damping, and automated controls for determining termination of processing work together to provide repeatable, reliable results in sample preparation.

Z Position

The Z position is continuously monitored via a non-contact sensor. The digital display indicates the dimple depth in microns, and is updated once every revolution This negates any errors due to tool run out, especially significant when using padded polishing tools. The termination depth can be set using the Z-position, allowing processing to stop when a specified depth of material is removed.


Process termination can be determined using the built-in timer, or by the Z Position. When using Z Position termination, the timer counts up to measure the total time elapsed until the Z Position is reached. This is useful for creating process recipes for various sample types. Four factors improve the overall stability during processing, and the termination accuracy:

  1. Non-Contact Position Sensor
  2. Tool Phase Sensor
  3. No external measuring device
  4. Magnetically coupled arm damping

The Non-Contact Position Sensor measures the location of the fulcrum arm which corresponds precisely to the thickness of the specimen. This sensor has an accuracy of better than one micron. Since it is non-contacting there are no detrimental effects on the action of the fulcrum arm. The reaction time of the sensor is fast enough to terminate the dimpling process the first time the Tool Phase Sensor indicates that the Z termination set point has been reached. Specimen thickness is measured directly on the PELCO® Dimpler™ with the tool surface as the measuring point. The dimple depth and the Z termination set point are measured with the same reference. This prevents any measurement error from being translated directly to a termination error.


Damping of the arm is accomplished by using position information from the Non-Contact Position Sensor, processing it and feeding it back to the arm motor, which controls the up/down force of the arm. The position sensor and the processing circuit is fast enough to actively dampen any vibration the arm may experience. Since the damping force is magnetically coupled to the arm there is no mechanical play in the system, allowing damping response on the sub-micrometer level. Damping is adjustable from zero damping to stiff damping.

Damping offers three significant attributes:

  1. Vibrations that can crack thin specimens are greatly reduced.
  2. Keeps tools round, negating excess impacts, providing more accurate Z position control.
  3. Tool gently contacts the specimen when the arm is lowered.

Automated Controls

Automated features make the dimpling process more repeatable and easy to use. Tools are raised and lowered at the touch of a button; dimpling force, damping force, fine balance, and Z offset (termination point) all are set from the front panel.

Once dimpling has begun no monitoring is necessary. After the initial specimen thickness has been measured, the specimen is mounted and the user simply selects a dimple depth and begins dimpling. The precise Z position of the tool/surface interface is continuously displayed while dimpling with any tool. When the selected dimple depth is reached the PELCO® Dimpler™ controls will automatically raise the arm then stop the tool rotation, specimen rotation, and clock timer.

Working Interface

The working interface for the unpadded tools shows very high stability in terms of the ΔZ reading (change in the offset value), with any deviation usually the result of tilt in the mounted sample. Research has indicated that for padded tools, the working diameter is within the nap of the pad. In this case, the ΔZ between the working interface and the specimen is a function of dimpling load (force setpoint), tool speed, damping, and pad compliance. After the dimpling load, tool speed, and damping are selected, the working diameter will stabilize at the working interface of the pad. This working interface is monitored on the Z display and used as a reference location from which a specimen is to be dimpled further.

Specimen Mounting

Different mounts are available depending on the size and type of sample. TEM specimens are generally mounted on optically smooth sapphire flats. The low thermal mass of the flat reduces mounting and dismounting times and the smooth surface allows the dimpled specimens to be easily removed. The hardness of sapphire limits damage if specimens are accidentally perforated due to operator error. The retainer ring which secures the sapphire flat also serves as a slurry reservoir. This platen set is used with the traditional Dimpler tools. For larger specmens for surface analysis or delayering a separate, shorter magnetic base and platen set is used with larger diameter tools. These were developed for delayering and deprocessing.


The standard dimpling tools include flatting and dimpling tools, in both unpadded versions for faster material removal and padded versions for polishing. Tools are made from 316 Stainless steel. Flatting tools such as Tools li and 2i, and the Large Area Tools have a flat profile while Dimpling Tools such as 3i and 4i have a radiused profile to produce a pronounced dimple. The flatting tools will still produce a dimple with the lowest point at the center of rotation, but it will have a much shallower height differential across the dimple.

A variety of padded and unpadded tools are available to meet many dimple polishing process requirements. The 83031 standard tool set for 3mm samples contains 6 tools, part numbers 83010, 83016, 83015, 83012, 83013, and 83014. Available tools and specimen mounts are shown below. Standard tools and specimen mounts are shown below. A variety of additional tools, platens, and accessories are also available. For a full list, please visit: PELCO® Dimpler™ Accessories.

Standard Base, Platen, Ring,
and Sapphire Flat,
for use with Standard Tools
Standard Platen Set
Adjustable Platen Set
Large Area Platen
with Base (#83007/83040)

Standard Base, Adjustable Platen,
Ring, and Sapphire Flat,
for use with Standard Tools
Tool 1i
Tool 2iT
Tool 2iM
Tool 3i
Tool 4iT
Tool 4iM

PELCO® Dimpler™ & Tools Specifications

Z Offset Accuracy: 1 micron
  Range: 2000 microns
Z Termination Accuracy Tools 1i / 3i: <± 1 micron
  Tools 2i / 4i: <± 2 microns
Tool Force Range: 1 - 200 grams
    1 gram steps
Balance Sensitivity: 1 gram
  Range: 50 grams
Tool Speed 100 - 600 RPM
Specimen Platen Speed 10 RPM
Tool Shaft 0.5 micron TIR
  Tools 1i / 3i: <± 1 micron TIR
  Tools 2i / 4i: <± 2 microns TIR
Platen Surface < 0.5 micron TIR
Dimensions Length: 68.6cm
  Width: 35.6cm
  Height: 33cm
  Weight: 32kg
Electrical Universal AC Input:100-240VAC, 50/60Hz

PELCO® Dimpler™ Product Video

PELCO® Dimpler™ Ordering Information

PELCO® Dimpler™ ships without tools or platen sets. Please choose appropriate Platen Set and Tools when requesting your quote.

Prod # Description Unit Price Order / Quote
84000 PELCO® Dimpler™ precision specimen thinning and polishing each P.O.R.


PELCO® Video Alignment Microscope (VAM)

For complete product specifications and PELCO® VAM accessories click here.

The PELCO® Video Alignment Microscope is an essential accessory for the PELCO® Dimpler™, particularly for deprocessing/delayering and site-specific polishing applications. It allows easy targeting of an area of interest, and precise control of the position, size, and shape of the bottom of the dimple or thin area of the specimen. The VAM has a magnification of 100X or 200X (digital), with a 1024 x 768 pixel TFT display. The sample stage fits the PELCO® Dimpler™ platen sets using the same hexagonal alignment post. A reticle allows precise alignment of the area of interest to the center of rotation of the base while dimpling.

The PELCO® Video Alignment Microscope may also be used as an inspection scope along with our Lapping Fixtures and other instruments.

Prod # Description Unit Price Order / Quote
84050 PELCO® Video Alignment Microscope each P.O.R.
Includes: Stage Adjustment Hex Key, Maintenance and Cleaning Kit, and Operation Manual


83070 Kit for Large Samples

For complete product specifications, see the PELCO® Dimpler™ Accessories page.

The typical range in thickness for dimpled samples is 100 microns to 760 microns. The sensor sensitivity range is at maximum 2mm, which has generally limited operation to a small range of sample thickness. This kit provides a set of shims and a larger diameter tool that allows both taller and wider samples to be dimple polished. It greatly extends the utility for delayering larger semiconductor samples, and for other selective area polishing applications. The kit extends the maximum sample size to ~0.5" (12mm) in height and up to 3" (75mm) in diameter. It can be used with any of the PELCO® Dimpler™ tool or platen sets, and is fully backwards compatible with all PELCO® and South Bay Technologies D500i Dimplers.

Prod # Description Unit Price Order / Quote
83070 PELCO® Dimpler™ Kit for Large Samples each $800.00

PELCO® Dimpler™ Tools & Accessories Ordering Information

Prod # Description Unit Price Order / Quote
83031 Standard Tool Set for 3mm Samples each $410.00
83027 Standard Platen Set (with through-hole) each 623.70
83032 Adjustable Platen Set each 535.00
83002 Standard Platen (with through-hole) each 159.50
83004 Adjustable Platen, Fits PELCO® 15000 Lapping Fixture each 137.50
83007 Magnetic Base for Large Area Tool each 247.50
83003 Slurry Retainer Ring for Standard and Adjustable Platens each 121.00
83001 Sapphire Flat each 82.50
83040 Platen for Large Area Tools each 77.00
83008 Magnetic Base for Standard and Adjustable Platen each 247.50
83010 Tool li, Flatting each 66.00
83015 Tool 4iM, Dimpling, Padded (low nap rayon) each 77.00
83012 Tool 3i, Dimpling each 77.00
83016 Tool 4iT Dimpling, padded, nonwoven each 77.00
83013 Tool 2iM padded, low nap rayon each 77.00
83014 Tool 2iT, padded, nonwoven each 77.00
83011 Large Area, Tool li, 0.125" width each 82.50
83039 Large Area Tool, Padded, 0.125" width each 104.50
83036 Large Area Tool, 0.25" width each 82.50
83044 Large Area Tool, padded, 0.25" width each 115.50
83038 Large Area Tool, Counterbored 2 sides, 0.25" width each 104.50
83045 Large Area Tool, Counterbored 2 sides, Padded, 0.25" width each 115.50
83046 Large Area Tool, Counterbored 1 side, Padded, 0.25" width each 115.50
83037 Large Area Tool, 0.5" width each 159.50
83047 Large Area Tool, Padded, 0.5" width each 138.60

Prod # Description Unit Qty Price Order / Quote
83064 Repadding Strips for li Tools pkg/10 1-3 $24.20
4-4 21.80
5+ 20.60
83061 Repadding Strips for 1/8" Large Area Tools pkg/10 1-3 28.00
4-4 25.20
5+ 23.80
83062 Repadding Strips for 1/4" Large Area Tools pkg/10 1-3 30.20
4-4 27.20
5+ 25.70
83063 Repadding Strips for 1/2" Large Area Tools pkg/10 1-3 42.30
4-4 38.10
5+ 36.00
83060 Repadding Roller Tool Kit each 1+ 132.00