Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. Since the early part of this century the manufacturing of optical components and systems has changed dramatically throughout the world, both in the types of products that are made and in the approach that is taken to making them. Once devoted entirely to passive image-forming components such as lenses and mirrors and to the instruments made from them, the industry now also manufactures a wide range of active elements such as lasers and optical sensors. Until recently, the industry depended heavily on a craftsman-style approach to manufacturing, with much of the work being carried out on an order-by-order basis by very small businesses.
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- Ultrafast laser processing of materials: from science to industry
- What is Photonics?
- Top 10 US and International Fiber Optics Suppliers
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- Canadian Industry Statistics
- Krasnogorsky Zavod
- Industrial Cluster Information
- Top 10 US and International Fiber Optics Suppliers
Ultrafast laser processing of materials: from science to industry
With a 30 percent annual growth rate, fiber optics is one of today's hottest industries. And there appears to be no end in sight. Construction crews are working feverishly to install thousands of miles of optical fiber cable under oceans, city streets and farm fields and alongside highways, railroad tracks and pipelines.
Last year, long-distance telecommunication carriers deployed 11 million kilometers of fiber in North America, according to KMI Corp. Newport, RI. Installing long-distance optical fiber cable is one thing.
Getting it to work is another. That depends on a wide variety of components that form the building blocks behind optical telecommunication networks.
Unfortunately, there's a severe shortage of these key devices today. And, the market is expected to grow dramatically during the next 4 years. To satisfy that huge demand, manufacturers are scrambling to build fiber optic components, such as amplifiers, attenuators, connectors, lasers, filters and switches, as fast as they can.
Right now, most assembly work is done by hand. But, with demand continuing to soar, the race is on to automate the process. Many different issues pose a challenge to automating fiber optic component assembly, however.
Issues such as a lack of standardized assembly and test techniques have hindered the development of process automation equipment. Fiber optic components require many manual, labor-intensive customizations and precise adjustments throughout the assembly process, adding to the overall cost. In addition, a lack of standardized package designs have crippled the ability of manufacturers to move from small scale to high volume production. High Stakes Race The stakes are extremely high in the fiber optics field.
According to RHK Inc. Not surprisingly, that explosive growth is coupled with fast-paced change. The fiber optics market is under a constant barrage of new technology, tongue-twisting acronyms and obscene stock prices. The business is attracting scores of entrepreneurs and every few months, a startup company claims a "breakthrough technology.
Between October and January , the company's stock shot up an unbelievable 2, percent. JDS Uniphase has grown into the largest fiber optic component manufacturer in the world by gobbling up other companies.
For instance, last summer it acquired rival SDL Inc. Despite such rapid growth and huge demand, JDS Uniphase and other component manufacturers have been plagued by slow assembly processes. That's because most devices are still built in fairly low volumes. Randy Heyler, vice president of photonics packaging and advanced automation systems at Newport Corp.
Irvine, CA , says the way most fiber optic components are currently manufactured resembles a watch factory in the days before automated assembly. The majority of components are assembled manually, with tremendous variances from operator to operator.
Heyler and other observers claim there are many parallels between the development of the semiconductor industry 25 years ago and the fiber optic component market today.
Rocky Hill, CT. He claims the industry is not very scalable, with "predominantly piece-part assembly. For instance, thin-film filter production requires a technician to manually glue separate pieces together. The process can take up to 45 minutes per device. After the device is assembled, it has to be tested. In fact, the majority of employees at JDS Uniphase are involved in production tasks, according to Bruce and other analysts who have toured the company's facilities.
Demand continues to be so strong that JDS Uniphase has not been able to improve on lead times. The company says its growth is limited by how fast it can increase capacity. New York , an investment banking firm that specializes in the high tech industry. To ramp up production volume, JDS Uniphase is relying on an ambitious combination of plant and employment expansion, huge investments in automation and increased use of outsourcing.
Other companies are facing the same hurdle when it comes to scaling up volume. They are desperately searching for new assembly techniques and automated solutions. Optical Components Fiber optic communication requires more than just hair-thin strands of glass. A wide variety of optoelectronic components and photonic devices are necessary to generate, modulate, guide, amplify, switch and detect light.
Optical components are tiny, complex devices that form the backbone behind telecommunication networks. Devices are assembled into a package or module that couples the light into or out of fiber optic cable. Two classes of fiber optic components exist: active and passive. Active components consist of the semiconductor laser technology that is necessary to provide the light in a fiber optic network.
These devices are generally easier to assemble. They require the integration of electronics and wiring into the package using traditional assembly technologies, such as soldering and die- and wire-bonding techniques. Receivers, transmitters, modulators, amplifiers and switches are examples of active components. Passive components operate on the light passing through the fiber and do not require power or electronics. Their function is to filter, divide or combine the light signals traveling through the optical fiber.
These components are much more labor intensive and costly to manufacture. Passive devices include couplers, isolators, and wavelength division multiplexers and demultiplexers. Optical components are made of many different types of materials, such as gallium arsenide, indium phosphate, lithium niobate, silicon and zirconia.
Last year, researchers at the University of Washington developed an electro-optic polymer for making optical components. Up until now, the big problem with using polymers for optical applications has been high light losses and poor thermal and photochemical stability. However, the university scientists claim their material offers improved signal quality and lower optical losses, which enable faster switching speeds.
Right now, many components are expensive because technologies are new and manufacturing processes aren't well developed. In addition, demand is outstripping supply, keeping prices high.
Certain key components remain inefficient, hindering the expansion of fiber optic networks. One of these devices is called an optical splitter. It splits the light traveling along a single transmission line into several new lines so that the signal can be distributed to customers. Splitting the light results in a large loss of light intensity and signal quality. A typical splitter divides the light from a single optical fiber into 16 new lines, losing 94 percent of the light intensity in the process.
To counteract this loss, fiber optic networks must use expensive optical-power boosting amplifiers. When fully implemented, all-optical networks are expected to deliver vast amounts of information unimpeded by the bottlenecks of conventional transport systems. With an all-optical network, information can be carried via light particles from PC to PC without ever having to be converted to electrical signals. The fastest growth is coming from components used to make dense wavelength division multiplexing DWDM gear, which increases the number of wavelengths on a single beam of light.
With DWDM technology, 6. Analysts at RHK Inc. During the next 12 months alone, the DWDM optical component market will grow 90 percent. Component manufacturers are under tremendous pressure to introduce higher and higher capacity DWDM systems.
Rapidly growing demand for DWDM-based bandwidth has created a corresponding increase in demand for high-performance components, such as optical amplifiers, pump lasers and vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers. One of the key elements of the all-optical network is the all-optical switch. This device uses microscopic mirrors--more than mirrors fit on a 1-square-inch chip--and lasers that can be tuned to pump out different colors of light.
Many of today's switches must first convert optical signals into electrical signals, read them, process them and then convert them back to optical signals before sending them on their way. That conversion causes bottlenecks that slow down the routing process. Lucent Technologies Inc. Murray Hill, NJ recently unveiled the world's first high-capacity, all-optical switch. The WaveStar LambdaRouter is capable of routing more than 10 trillion bits of information per second.
Early this year, Lucent plans to unveil an even faster router that contains 1, mirrors. Joining Methods Optical components are typically joined with adhesives, laser welding or solder. Unlike free-radical systems, some cure continues after the light source is removed. In very high-volume assemblies, laser welding provides the fastest and most cost efficient joining process.
It puts considerable limitations on package design, however. Laser welding ranks as the "most automatable" of the attachment approaches, says Newport's Heyler, because it lends itself to high volumes. But, laser welding requires that all components be housed in metal ferrules to protect optical fibers from the heat. Newport has developed a machine that uses two pulsed Nd:YAG laser beams--one on each side of the ferrule--to weld components into place.
The machine performs postweld shift compensation and correction with a combination of laser hammering and automated mechanical adjustment. According to Heyler, this results in a repeatable, epoxy-free process that can be used to assemble high-volume quantities of laser diode modules, such as the pump laser diode used in fiber optic amplifiers.
Soldering is less expensive than welding, while offering some of the benefits of laser welding. Soldering is used to a lesser extent, mainly because it has not been proven in optical applications. Concerns exist over control of shrinkage and its inability to be controlled effectively. Solder is used to join optical fibers parallel to substrates with surface-mounted electronics, such as lasers or sensors.
In this process, the thin optical fiber is pulled out of alignment first by capillary forces during wetting of the solder on the fiber, and then by solder shrinkage during solidification and cooling.
Engineers face the challenge of predicting the extent of fiber shift due to these two mechanisms and developing reduced or more reproducible fiber shift.
Faced with deploying optical fiber in a harsh environment? Specialty fiber optic products may be the answer. Read Press Release. December 11, — OFS and CommScope have partnered for new fiber and cable innovations that are enabling higher speeds and densities in data centers.
What is Photonics?
Photonics is defined as the science of using light to generate energy, detect or transmit information. Another way to define Photonics is as the technology of generating and harnessing light and many other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. Photonics involves cutting-edge uses of lasers, optics, fiber-optics, and electro-optical devices in numerous and diverse fields of technology, for instance, aerospace, agriculture, biomedicine, construction, energy, information technology, chemicals, transportation, homeland security, solid state lighting, among many others. What is Photonics? Take a look at this video from Innovation Trail to better understand what Photonics is. Light technologies are helping to revolutionize many sectors. Here are just a few examples of Photonics applications.
Top 10 US and International Fiber Optics Suppliers
The core skills at the time were centered on manufacturing scientific optical components and crystalline materials. These skills are still very much at the cornerstone of the current operations at Ilminster with global sales of acousto-optics, crystal optics and precision optics. At these locations, the founders developed crystal growth techniques for military applications such as sonar and missile domes. In , this group formed Cleveland Crystals. In addition, we have the capability to provide many standard metal and dielectric optical coatings either on our standard substrates or customer supplied material.
Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. Modern manufacturing is being revolutionized by the use of optics, which can both improve current manufacturing capabilities and enable new ones. Light can be used to process or probe materials remotely, even through windows isolating harsh or vacuum environments. With no surface contact, there is no contamination of the process by the probe beam and no wear of tool edges. Scanning provides action over large areas. Light can be used to induce photochemistry, for example, in photolithography to produce submicron features in thin films of photoresist or in rapid prototyping where liquid polymers are solidified by lasers to form a three-dimensional piece from a computer-aided design database.
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Top Suppliers. Fiber optics manufacturers draw glass or plastic into a transparent fiber to a diameter slightly thicker than that of a human hair. Standard optical fibers are made in a two-step process.
Canadian Industry Statistics
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Companies across all industrial sectors count on Oerlikon advanced materials and functional coatings to enhance safety, ensure food hygiene, meet regulatory requirements and improve performance of consumer goods. Major industrial companies from all over the world apply Oerlikon AM Additive Manufacturing services to optimize product design, accelerate innovation cycles, improve product performance or eliminate product steps. All major aero engine manufacturers today use Oerlikon advanced materials, functional coatings or process technologies to boost performance, improve safety and fuel efficiency, and control emissions.
Top 10 US and International Fiber Optics Suppliers
Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence works with manufacturers to create solutions for the smart factory. Our hardware and software solutions use data to connect departments, embed continuous learning into all stages of the production process and place intelligent quality at the heart of the product lifecycle. With data informing decision-making from concept to reality, quality drives productivity.
Factory automation has existed since General Motors implemented their automation department in Since then, companies around the world have been saving time and money using various control systems to improve quality, accuracy and precision.
Michael E. Porter is the C.