Always Faster and More -
Fibre Optic Cabels at wire 2018
The digitalised data volumes required for e-mails, e-commerce, telephone calls and TV are rising rapidly. The demand for ever greater volumes at ever faster speeds is one met particularly well by fibre optic cables. For this the cable industry has to deliver production machinery, cable sheathing and measuring technology at the highest level.
Developments in fibre optic cable manufacturing to ensure the required performance are similarly rapid. And this challenge is taken up by Kurre Spezialmaschinenbau, to name but one producer.
"In addition to low-cost implementation it is imperative to go along with customers' new, specific requirements time and again. We want to understand our customers' product-specific requirements so we can conceive optimum production lines," says Thorsten Wilde, Head of Sales and Project Management at Kurre Spezialmaschinenbau GmbH, and explains that this flexibility helps to generate the matching solutions needed in e-mobility, data transmission or for sensors in automotive manufacturing.
Predictability through Production Depth
Predictability is key for the fibre optic cable industry. This is why Kurre Spezialmaschinenbau focuses on nearly "100% production depth". Machinery is "designed on the basis of detailed customer specifications in a state-of-the-art 3D-engineering environment, then manufactured in house, assembled and shipped to customers all over the world after detailed commissioning." This production depth makes it possible to re-manufacture any "spare and wear part lifelong making them available at any time," stresses Thorsten Wilde.
Fibre optic production requires not only the machines for the production process proper in a drawing tower, but also extruders, winding, unwinding machines, storage reels, pullers, cooling channels as well as various measuring systems.
Sheathing of Fibres
One decisive factor impacting the quality of fibre optic cables is the extrusion process. Approx. a dozen optical fibres are bundled in loose tubes "and loosely sheathed with a high-rigidity and stabilising polybutylenterephthalate (PBT) tube in an extrusion process," explains Dr. Simon Kniesel from the Product Development Department for Industrial Plastics at BASF. Sheathing takes place in one consistent, automated extrusion process. "During this extrusion process the individual optical fibres coming from various reels are pulled into the little, inline-manufactured tube at speeds of up to 500 metres per minute."
Cables Becoming Ever Thinner
But which material should be used for the sheathing? The melt should solidify fast during the extrusion process and the finished loose tubes should be very stiff. Another challenge in Simon Kniesel's opinion is the growing demand for fibre optic cables worldwide while the space available for transmission lines and in cable ducts but also for in-house wiring and in opto-electronic assemblies is limited. "This means cables need to become thinner and thinner despite constant information density." To fulfil these stricter requirements BASF has developed a new Ultradur® type especially for thin fibre-optic sheathing. Other companies are expected to follow suit with their own developments.
Images: R. Eberhard, messekompakt.com, EBERHARD print & medien agentur gmbh
Source: Messe Düsseldorf