Plasma fusion splicer targets small diameter and low-melt optical fibers

Using 3SAE's patent-pending thermally stabilized plasma technology, the company claims the new unit is the first fusion splicer to enter the market featuring automatic pitch and yaw for both fibers, providing 12-axis alignment to compensate for fiber curl and gravity.

Designed especially for processing low-melt and small diameter optical fibers, a new plasma fusion splicer platform from 3SAE Technologies will be debuted at this week's 21st Laser World of Photonics Show in Munich.

Using 3SAE's patent-pending thermally stabilized plasma technology, the company claims the new unit is the first fusion splicing unit to enter the market featuring automatic pitch and yaw for both fibers, providing 12-axis alignment to compensate for fiber curl and gravity. 3SAE's proprietary hybrid motors provide up to 10mm of stroke per axis at .01 micron relative resolution. In its PM mode of operation, the splicer has end-face view and 360-degree rotators.

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"Every splice is self calibrated using thermal imaging to provide maximum repeatability and process control,” explains Robert Wiley, vice president of research and development for 3SAE. Wiley continues, "But it's our thermally stabilized plasma technology that enables this splicer to achieve the largest available temperature range, allowing splicing of low-melt temperature specialty fibers to sapphire and above. The highly precise, highly repeatable nature of the thermally stabilized plasma heat source also makes the splicer ideal for high volume production."

At the upcoming show in Munich, 3SAE will also display its new taper manufacturing station. By integrating the thermally stabilized plasma technology into the machine's design, the station's wide plasma heat source and blunt electrodes achieve virtually debris-free tapers with less than 1 percent insertion loss -- ideal for creating high quality tapers, bundles and standard or PM couplers with an integrated cleaver, according to the company.

3SAE's fiber-optic taper manufacturing station offers three customizable tapering modes: single direction, bi-directional and table-based. Single direction tapering is well suited for tapering fibers with small taper ratios of less than 50 percent. The bi-directional tapering creates an exponential taper, allowing for unlimited taper ratios with very low insertion loss. The table-based tapering method allows the flexibility of a syntax-based software program to create a custom taper program using a GUI interface. Programs such as Math Lab and Microsoft Excel can also be used to develop the tapering program.

"Like our plasma fusion splicer, our taper manufacturing station also delivers exceptionally high repeatability, resulting in lower production costs," says Wiley. Wiley notes further that the unit achieves lower insertion losses, as the thermally stabilized plasma operates in a partial vacuum to produce a wider heat profile. "This wider plasma field can expand up to 10 times along the axis of the fiber, greatly reducing the frequency and amplitude of modulations," he adds. "In addition, the oxidation of electrodes is minimized, thus achieving the ultra-low contamination required for high power laser systems."

3SAE Technologies’ European master distributor, NorthLab Photonics, will display the new Plasma Fusion Splicer and Taper Manufacturing System products in Hall B1, booth 421, at Laser World of Photonics in Munich, Germany, May 13-16, 2013. For more details, visit www.3SAE.com.

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