Technology 2 min read

New Process can Make Optical Fibers Production Cheaper

PDPics / Pixabay.com

PDPics / Pixabay.com

A team of researchers from the University of Campinas has developed a new process that will make production of optical fibers faster and cheaper.

Optical fibers have several applications, and for good reasons.

Not only can signals travel along fibers with less loss, but they are also immune to electromagnetic interference. As a result, the signals travel over long distances and at a higher data transfer rate than electrical cables.

Optical fibers would have more applications if the manufacturing process were cheaper and faster. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The conventional way of making optical fibers starts with a short, fat, cylindrical version of the fiber known as a preform. After hanging the preform vertically from a tower, the manufacturers apply heat at the lower end until it melts.

Then, a thin thread of the melted material stretched down the tower’s length due to gravity. After cooling, the material goes through a curing process to become the finished optical fiber.

However, this process requires extensive and expensive machinery. Besides, it could take as much as a week to complete manufacture the optical fiber.

Now, researchers at the University of Campinas have developed a faster and more affordable method.

In a statement about the project, one of the researchers, Prof. Cristiano Cordeirosaid:

“Our process can be completed with bench-mounted equipment that’s at least 100 times cheaper and takes less than an hour from feedstock to end-product. It will enable many more researchers and labs to produce their own optical fiber.”

The researchers described their work in a published paper in Scientific Reports.

A More Cheaper Method of Creating Optical Fiber

The new method involves feeding transparent thermoplastic polymer pellets into an off-the-shelf filament extruder. After the pellets melt, a custom-made titanium nozzle extrudes a molten material.

The researchers pull the fiber through an adjacent set of rollers. That way, it’ll remain taut as it’s cooling and setting, and the channels within the fiber don’t collapse in upon themselves.

According to the researcher, the process is faster, less expensive, and more compact than the conventional technique. However, the fibers’ length is limited by the number of pellets fed into the extruder.

Meanwhile, the preform’s size limits fiber’s length in the drawing tower.

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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