Additive Manufacturing Technology of Silica Optical Fiber


As one of the most important devices in the world today, quartz optical fiber is widely used in the fields of communication and sensing. With the advent of 5G and the Internet of Things, the role of optical fiber is expanding from passive telecommunication transmission media to optical fiber sensing. Equipment and lasers and other aspects. With this comes the need for increasingly complex optical fibers. However, the traditional silica fiber manufacturing industry is limited by the material and structural flexibility of the fiber, and it is not easy to realize the diversification and customized functions of the fiber.

In recent years, the manufacture of quartz glass using additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology has received a lot of attention. It solves the problem that quartz glass is difficult to shape due to high temperature and high viscosity. However, the quartz material produced by this technology is small, usually in the order of tens of millimeters of sheet glass or block glass, which greatly limits the application of 3D printing technology in the field of quartz optical fiber manufacturing.

The researchers used a commercial DLP 3D printer to cure the UV-sensitive resin containing nano-silica particles, and added functional core materials to the holes as needed. Then use the muffle furnace to degrease the preform to remove organic matter, and finally draw it into an optical fiber.
This work introduced 3D printing technology into the manufacture of silica optical fibers, and successfully manufactured bismuth-erbium co-doped single-core fibers and seven-core fibers.

Although the loss of optical fiber manufacturing is high and the core shape of the seven-core optical fiber is not perfect, this technology effectively breaks the shackles of the traditional silica optical fiber manufacturing field, such as the precise positioning of the core and the manufacture of microstructured optical fibers when MCVD manufactures multi-core optical fibers. The cumbersome accumulation is expected to bring revolutionary changes to the manufacturing of silica optical fibers.

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