What is a Fiber Optic Furnace?
A fiber optic furnace is an industrial heater developed and manufactured for drawing glass composite materials such as silica (SiO2) into transparent optical fibers between 5 – 100 microns in diameter without cladding. These are instrumental for modern telecommunications due to their high strength, flexibility, and wavelength transmittance. Drawing glass fibers in a fiber optic furnace requires precise instrumentation with excellent temperature uniformity to optimize the end-products and ensure optical fibers do not crystallize or become damaged during the drawing process.
The fiber optic industry requires furnaces designed to varying specifications, with an element of adaptability, as the chemical composition of materials used in its formulation vary, and the resulting applications for these products require different dimensions.
Typical fiber optic furnaces are cylindrical or tube-shaped with heating elements capable of uniformly heating glass composites to temperatures ranging up to 1700°C (3092°C), and drawing them out into a string. Heating elements in fiber optic furnaces are usually comprised of rugged ceramic elements, with lightweight ceramic fiber insulation and durably wound wiring allowing for consistent dispersion of heat throughout the heating chamber. Integrated control systems allow for precise temperature control, with different configurations providing unique benefits for the drawing of various glass compounds.
Silica, for example, is commonly applied in optical communications due to its high optical transmission ratios regardless of wavelength, and its impressive mechanical strength. It can be drawn in fiber optic furnaces at low to high temperatures, to varying thicknesses. Large-scale manufacture of silica optical fibers thereby benefit from fiber optic furnaces with inclusive tube adapters to allow for multiple processes sizes, such as Thermcraft’s High Temperature Split Tube Furnace.
Fiber Optic Furnace Applications from Thermcraft
Thermcraft are a leading manufacturer of thermal processing equipment, manufacturing low and high temperature laboratory and industrial furnaces to bespoke thermal requirements. Our heaters and furnaces have been widely implemented for use in the glass fiber optic industry, with a line of eXPRESS-LINE laboratory furnaces integrating the required chamber, heating elements, and monitoring equipment for the accurate manufacture and monitoring of a variety of optical fibers.
Our tube and split tube furnaces can also be configured for use as fiber optic furnaces, with single or multiple zone heating chambers and both vertical and horizontal mounting capacities. Temperature brackets range up to 1010°C (1850°F), 1204°C (2200°F), 1538°C (2800°F), and 1700°C (3092°F).