Furukawa America offers wide-area plasma splicer

FEBRUARY 22, 2008 -- Furukawa America Inc. will introduce its new FITEL series of splicers -- featuring three-phase plasma technology for high strength, high yield, large diameter, and specialty fiber splicing -- at OFC/NFOEC next week.

FEBRUARY 22, 2008 -- Furukawa America Inc. (search for Furukawa) will introduce its new FITEL series of splicers -- featuring three-phase plasma technology for high strength, high yield, large diameter, and specialty fiber splicing -- at OFC/NFOEC next week.

Jointly developed by The Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd. and 3SAE Technologies Inc. (search for 3SAE), the FITEL S184 model is touted as the first splicer to use three-phase plasma technology utilizing three electrodes. A two-electrode system has served the bulk of fusion splicing applications for nearly 30 years. A filament system emerged about 17 years ago for highly temperature-controlled, specialty-fiber splicing.

Three-phase plasma technology places a third electrode in a "T" configuration. This additional electrode, combined with an advanced arc discharging unit for independent modulation, produces a "ring of fire" arc zone. The usable region of the "wide-area plasma field" is up to 100 times larger than a two-electrode system, and it provides consistent heating throughout the entire zone, Furukawa America says.

The company adds that the new technology means the ability to splice larger diameter fiber with extremely low insertion loss, use a thermally expanded core process for dissimilar mode field diameter (MFD) fibers, and achieve an extremely stable, reliable, and controllable heat zone every time.

"This is the first major technology shift we've seen in the industry in 17 years," said Jason Greene, division manager for Furukawa America. "We're pleased to bring this new level of performance to the splicing industry with the FITEL S184."

The S184 splicer is designed to easily accommodate small fibers such as 80-micron and large fibers up to 1 mm in diameter. The improved stability and extended dynamic range of the three-phase plasma field also allows for a thermally expanded core process. This core diffusion method can be used pre- or post-splice to achieve significantly lower optical loss for fibers with mismatched MFDs.

Three-phase plasma technology also produces temperatures stable enough to perform a "flame polish" post splice to increase the tensile strength of the splice. The flame polish removes imperfections in the silica created during the splice itself, the company concludes.

Furukawa's teammate on the splicer's development, 3SAE, has three patents pending for the three-phase plasma technology module used within the FITEL S184 splicer.

"The physics are different," explained Don Grasso, CEO of 3SAE. "With three-phase plasma splicing, radiation and convection are the primary means of heat transfer to the fiber as opposed to the non-linear thermal conduction achieved with a standard two-electrode system."

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