How optical fiber cable was originally created

Manufacturing process of optical fiber cable [materials and properties]

Fiber cable manufacturing is the inspection and testing of optical fibers. Every optical fiber with in every optical fiber cable product can be traced through each step of production. The clear glass fiber initially undergo one of two types of coloring processes. UV inking colors it in preparation for ribbonizing and loose tube processes or type buffer in which provides both color and protective coating.

Optical fiber technology

A specialized ink is coated onto each optical fiber. One of 12 colors is used to properly identify the optical fiber with in the tube or ribbon in accordance with industry standards. After the inking step, the optical fiber quickly passes to a curing enclosure that rapidly cures the ink to form a permanent color coating and then wound on to a take up reel.

optical fiber cable
optical fiber cable

PVC cable coating

The color coated fiber is now ready to be put into loose tube or made into ribbon fiber. For tight buffer cable products, a color PVC coating is applied that increases the diameter of the fiber from 250 to 900 microns. So this process is called tight buffering. The tight buffered designed is the preferred fiber cable design for indoor cable applications. At this moment fiber destined for loose tube or tight buffer cable proceed to the sheathing or tubing process. Fiber destined for ribbon fiber cables must undergo an additional intermediate step called ribbonizing.

The fiber ribbons are created by serving 12, 24 or 36 individual fibers side by side into a coating dye that encapsulate the fibers with a UV curable matrix material into a fiber array. The ribbon leaves the coating Dianne passes through an intense ultraviolet light source that cures the matrix and solidifies the ribbon. The completed fiber ribbon is then wound onto a supply reel.

Optical network

Before the ribbon can be used in any cable, however it must be tested to verify the structure and dimension meets specifications. A small length of ribbon is cut from the reel and placed under a microscope. The technician carefully examines the ribbon sample and fully documents the results. If the sample passes inspection can the reel go on to be used in a fiber optic cable.

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Fiber cable design

Fiber optic center

All the 3 of the basic optical fiber cable designs loose tubes, ribbon fiber and tight buffer cables require some form of shaving process. A sheathing process for OSP fiber cable, that begins with a number of reels of color coded fiber loaded onto a machine that supplies each fiber at a constant rate under computer controlled tension.

The fibers comes together and are fed into an extruder head that performs 2 main functions. Like – a flow of moisture blocking gel surrounds the fibers. Then molten colored plastic is extruded around the fiber bundle to form a loose to around the fibers. Then the hot soft tube is then passed through a long water filled trough that slowly cools and hardens the tube.

optical fiber cable
optical fiber cable

Now the completed tube is passed through an optical micrometer to verify its diameter with in specifications. It’s then wound on a take up reel to be used later in the cabling process. In different sheeting process, tight buffer fibers being fed into an extruder head along with a special strength yarns. A fire retardant plastic material is extruded to form the protective tube around the fibers.

The ribbon fibers are handled in a similar manner during the sheeting process. 1 – 30 ribbons are oscillated in one direction prior to being fed into an extruder head which forms the tube. As this oscillation allows the predetermined amount of fiber slack to be maintained with in the tube. The dry water blocking agents are also inserted prior to the tube being formed around the ribbons. The multiple tubes of fibers may be needed to create the desired cable.

Stranding cables and jacketing

The process of combining multiple tubes is called stranding. The reels of fiber filled tubes are loaded on the payoff equipment of the cabling line. The process begins with the reel of fiber glass rod that will become the cable central strength member. Along with the fiber glass rod, a numbers of reels of colored loose tubes containing fibers that are fed through a series of rollers and guides. This straighten the tubes and position them in the correct relationship for the next step. The strength member tubes then pass into a machine that winds the tube in a reverse oscillating wrap around the central strength member. The cable then covered with a layer of moisture absorbing tape.

The final phase of optical fiber cable production is the jacketing process. The material is used for the outer cable jacket are chosen for the intended application of the fiber cable. The jacketing line begins with the reel of partially completed cable. As this cable passes into a machine, that spins a series of flexible fiberglass in a web like configuration around the cable. The web like design avoid torque problems which causes cable to have a preferential bend. The completed cable is then wound onto large reels for shipment to the customer.

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