Optical Fiber Communications Cable

Superior Essex manufactures its fiber optic cable products in a  state-of-the-art facility located in brown wood taxes here we produce hundreds  of different fiber cable designs including loose to ribbon fiber and type  buffer constructions for outside client fiber-to-the-home indoor/outdoor and  premises applications in this article. We will guide you through the principal manufacturing processes for each of these three basic fiber cable designs the first in fiber cable manufacturing is the inspection and testing of optical fibers while Superior Essex does not manufacture its own optical fibers each manufacturer that supplies are optical fiber glass.

Must meet exacting  requirements for performance and reliability  this approach allows us to offer our customers a choice in the brand of  optical fiber selected for the finished cable and give Superior Essex supply  flexibility in the event of optical fiber shortages the optical fiber  received by Superior Essex.

 

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Can vary in length from 4402 fifty thousand meters  and is categorized based on fiber performance characteristics as part of  our manufacturing process every optical fiber within every fiber cable product  can be traced through each step of production the clear glass fibers. Initially undergo one of two types of coloring processes UV thinking which colors it in preparation for recognizing and loose two processes or type buffering which provides both color and a protective coating in the UV inking process a specialized ink is coated onto each optical fiber. One of 12 colors is used to properly identify the optical fiber within 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 coding and wound onto a take-up reel the color-coded fiber is now ready to be put into loose tube or made into ribbon fiber for tight buffer cable products. A colored PVC coating is applied that increases the diameter of the fiber from 250 microns to nine hundred microns this process is called tight buffering which in addition to providing a color to identify each fiber allows the resulting cable to be flexible yet rugged and easily made it to mechanical connectors for these reasons the tight buffered cable design is the preferred fiber cable design.

Indoor cable applications at this point fibers destined for loose tube or tight buffered cable proceed to the sheathing or tubing process fibers destined for ribbon fiber cables must undergo an additional intermediate step called ribbon fiber ribbons are created by serving 12 24 or 36 individual fibers side by side into a coding died that encapsulates the fibers with a uv-curable matrix material into a fiber array.

In a process similar to the inking process the ribbon leaves the coding die and passes through an intense ultraviolet light source that cures the matrix and solidifies the ribbon completed fiber ribbon is then wound onto a supply real before the ribbon can be used in any cable. However it must be tested to verify that its structure and dimensions meet specifications a small length of ribbon is cut from the real and placed under a microscope a technician carefully examines the ribbon sample and fully documents the results only if the sample passes inspection can the real go on to be used in a fiber optic cable. All three of the basic fiber cable designs lose to ribbon fiber and tight buffered cables require some form of cheating process this is usually another intermediate step that can be the final production step for small premises cable designs.

 

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We see a shading 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 control tension the fibers come together and are fed into an extruder head that performs two main functions. First a flow of moisture blocking gel surrounds the fibers than molten colored plastic is extruded around the fiber bundle to form a loose tube around the fibers immediately upon leaving the extruder the hot soft tube is passed through a long water-filled trop that slowly cools and hardens the tube the completed two has passed through an optical micrometer to verify its diameter is within specifications. It is then wound on a take-up reel to be used later in the cabling process part of our quality control process we periodically test fiber tubes to verify that there is sufficient slack fiber within the tubes.  This additional fiber slack also called excess fiber length or allows the cable to expand and contract around the fibers without causing stress or attenuation problems to perform this task a section of a tube is placed on a special test fixture. That accurately cuts it to a predetermined length  the tube is open midway along its length and the fibers are removed one of the  fibers is separated from the bundle and is mounted between a pair of measurement  blocks micrometer wheel is carefully adjusted to just bring the fiber in  detention a digital readout displays. The fiber length which is then compared to the known length of the two in a different sheeting process we see tight buffered fiber is being fed into an extruder head along with special strength yarns fire retardant plastic material is extruded to form the protective tube around the fibers in this case the tube is also the outside protective jacket.

For the now completed cable ribbon fibers are handled in a  similar manner during the sheathing process  12 30 ribbons are oscillated in one direction prior to being fed into an  extruder head  which forms the to this oscillation allows for a predetermined amount of  fiber slack to be maintained within the two PFM gel or dry water blocking agents. These are also inserted prior being formed around the ribbons  depending on the number of fibers required multiple tubes of fibers may be  needed to create the desired cable the process of combining multiple tubes is  called stranding reels of fiber-filled tubes are loaded. On the payoff equipment of the cabling line in this example we see the production of a loose tube stranded cable the process begins with the real of fiberglass rod that will become the cable central strength member along with the fiberglass rod a number of reels of colored.

Loose tubes containing fibers are fed through a series of rollers and guide that straight in the tubes and position them in the correct relationship for the next step in the process the strength member in tubes then pass into a machine that wins the tubes in a reverse oscillating wrap around the central strength member. You can  easily see how the rap periodically reverses the cable is then covered with  a layer of moisture absorbing tape the Sun jacketed cable sub-assembly can be  used later as the inner layer of a multi-layer stranded cable or be  surrounded with steel armor for use in an underground cable or simply be  covered with an outer jacket.
For general-purpose applications the final phase of fiber cable production is the jacketing process the materials used for the other cable jacket or chosen for the intended application of the fiber cable for most OSP fiber cables superior Essex utilizes. Medium-density polyethylene due to its durability moisture resistance and low coefficient of friction high or low density polyethylene can also be used for select OSP cable designs that require different performance characteristics polyvinyl chloride. PVC is typically used for the jacket material in our  premises cable designs  PVC is a thermoplastic with good flame and abrasion resistance making it  suitable for raceways indoor outdoor table structures  ducted environments and most riser rated and plenum rated locations the jacketing. Line begins with the real of partially completed cable we saw manufactured  earlier this cable passes into a machine that spins a series of flexible fiberglass strength members in a web-like configuration around the cable  the web like design avoids torque problems. Which would cause the cable to have a preferential band in order to make it easier to access the cable core? Where the tubes and fibers are located one or more high strength rip cords are added the red rip cord is seen traveling parallel to the cable as it moves toward the jacket extruder.

 

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The jacket extruder is simply a scaled-up version of the two  extruders we saw earlier molten jacket material is injected at high pressure  and formed around the moving cable the cable leaves the extruder it is very hot  and quite soft so it must pass through a long cooling bath. While being kept  straight to prevent the cable from developing a permanent curl when the  cable exits the cooling bath  it has passed through an optical micrometer to verify that its diameter  is within specifications cable is used in direct buried applications often  require corrugated steel armoring to prevent rodent attack as well as damage  from rocks.  Corrugated steel armor is formed from flat steel tape that is supplied on large Real’s the cable armor and a ripcord are fed through a forming tool that wraps the armor around the internal cable elements.

The newly armored cable now passes through an extruder with the outer jacket is applied to the cable after jacket extrusion and cooling the cable passes to the jacket printer.  A hot foil printing process transfers white ink into permanently dented print which includes cable type fiber count data production footage or meter markings and other required information. The completed cable is then wound onto large reels for shipment to the customer, however one critical step still remains the cable must go through our final test  process to ensure that all fibers meet optical specifications established by  superior Essex short length of cable is prepared to expose the fibers to be  tested in this example the technician is testing a ribbon fiber cable all of the  ribbons within the cable are prepared and inserted in test fixtures that are  sequentially plugged into an automated test station.

 

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In this way each fiber and every ribbon of the cable is quickly tested and compared against our  specifications  once the cable passes all tests the cable ends are sealed and the real is  ready for shipment a copy of the test report is permanently retained by  Superior Essex. And is attached to the cable wheel for acceptance test comparison engineering and maintenance records.

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