Many people ask how fiber optics are made. You can’t just use “regular” glass. If you were to make optical fiber from ordinary window glass, the light that you shine through it would have a difficult time traveling more than a few kilometers, let alone the distances necessary for long distance transmission. That’s because ordinary glass contains distortions, discolorations and other impurities that would quickly absorb, reflect, or otherwise disperse light long before it could travel any great distance. In contrast, because optical fiber is actually made from very pure glass, the light traverses great distances largely unimpeded by impurities and distortions.
The process begins by lowering one end of the preform into an in-line furnace that produces heat in a range of 3,400 to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As the lower end of the preform begins to melt, it forms a molten glob that is pulled downward by gravity. Trailing behind the glob is a thin strand of glass that cools and solidifies quickly. The equipment operator threads this glass strand through the remainder of the devices on the tower, which include a number of buffer coating applicators and ultraviolet curing ovens. Finally, the operator connects the fiber to a tractor mechanism.
The completed optical fiber must undergo a number of tests to determine the quality of the finished product. A few of the assessments involved, Fiber geometry inspection, including core, cladding and coating, Tensile strength and Bandwidth capacity.
Various factors influence the quality and purity of the optical fiber produced. It is crucial that the gas composition and rate of flow be monitored throughout the process of creating the preform. It is also important that any valves, tubes and pipes that come into contact with the gas be made of corrosion-resistant materials.
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