News Column

Patent Issued for Optical Fiber Polishing Machines, Fixtures and Methods

May 14, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- A patent by the inventor Frazer, James T. (Big Lake, MN), filed on December 3, 2009, was published online on April 29, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8708776 is assigned to Domaille Engineering, LLC (Rochester, MN).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "A typical fiber-optic cable generally includes concentric layers of protective or supporting material with an optical fiber located at the center of the cable. These fiber-optic cables typically have connectors located on each end to connect them to another fiber-optic cable or to a peripheral device. These connectors are high precision devices which position the fiber-optic cable in line with another fiber-optic cable or to a port on a peripheral device.

"In order to communicate with a port or another cable, the end face of the connector (including a ferrule and an optical fiber) must typically abut an adjacent cable or port. The finish of the end face of a fiber will typically determine the amount of back reflection at the connection site, thus greatly affecting the ability of the fiber-optic cable to transmit information. The apex offset, protrusion/recession, insertion loss, return loss, and angularity are also integral parameters of a fiber's finish. As such, the end face of a fiber is usually polished to exacting standards so as to produce a finish with minimal back reflection. For example, it is often necessary to polish the end face of the fiber to a precise length, i.e., so the end face projects a predetermined amount from a reference point such as a shoulder on the fiber optic connector within a predetermined tolerance. Fiber-optic cables having multiple optical fibers can also be polished to produce a particular finish.

"Optical fiber polishing machines (sometimes referred to herein as 'polishers') typically include a rotating platen and a fixing or mounting mechanism, such as an arm or corner mounts, which positions and supports the optical fibers during the polishing process. Typically, the end face of an optical fiber is lowered onto an abrasive film resting on the platen, and depending upon the film, the speed of the platen, the pressure applied, and its duration, acquires a finish suitable for a particular application.

"Optical fiber polishing machines generally include a fixture, coupled to the mounting mechanism, that is capable of holding and gripping one or more optical fibers (e.g., by holding a fiber ferrule or connector) and advancing them under controlled conditions of speed and force to engage a plurality of fiber optic ends into engagement with a polishing member such as a rotatable platen with an abrasive surface or film."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "According to an aspect of the invention, an optical fiber polishing fixture is provided for use with an optical fiber polishing machine. The fixture includes a base having a bottom surface and multiple ports positioned about a center of the base and extending through the bottom surface of the base. Each port is configured to align an optical fiber above a platen of the optical fiber polishing machine for polishing an end of the optical fiber as the platen and the fixture undergo a relative motion. An angular separation between at least a first port and a second port with respect to the center of the fixture base is based on the relative motion of the platen and the fixture such that the first port and the second port follow distinct wear paths upon an abrasive surface on the platen as the platen and the fixture undergo the relative motion.

"According to another aspect of the invention, another optical fiber polishing fixture is provided for use with an optical fiber polishing machine. The fixture has a base with a bottom surface and a number of ports positioned about a center of the base and extending through the bottom surface of the base. Each port is configured to align an optical fiber above a platen of the optical fiber polishing machine for polishing an end of the optical fiber as the platen and the fixture undergo a relative motion. A first group of the ports are substantially positioned along a first circular path about the center of the base. At least two ports in the first group are positioned from the center of the base at respective radial distances varying by a least about a width of an optical fiber, but by no more than about the width of the optical fiber times the quantity of ports in the first group. The varying radial distances of the first port and the second port produce distinct wear paths upon an abrasive surface on the platen for the first port and the second port as the platen and the fixture undergo the relative motion.

"According to further aspects of the invention, systems for polishing optical fibers are provided. The systems include one or more of the above-described polishing fixtures and an optical fiber polishing machine having a platen configured to retain an abrasive film, a mounting mechanism coupled to the fixture, and a drive mechanism, the drive mechanism causing the fixture and the platen to undergo the relative motion.

"According to another aspect of the invention, a method for polishing optical fibers is provided. The method includes providing an optical fiber polishing machine having a platen and positioning an abrasive film on the platen of the polishing machine. The method further includes coupling an optical fiber polishing fixture above the platen and the abrasive film, positioning a plurality of optical fibers in the fixture, and causing a relative motion between the fixture and the platen. At least first and second optical fibers are positioned about a center of the fixture with an angular separation with respect to the center of the fixture based on the relative motion of the platen and the fixture such that the first optical fiber and the second optical fiber follow distinct wear paths upon the abrasive film as the platen and the fixture undergo the relative motion."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Frazer, James T.. Optical Fiber Polishing Machines, Fixtures and Methods. U.S. Patent Number 8708776, filed December 3, 2009, and published online on April 29, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=109&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=5433&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20140429.PD.&OS=ISD/20140429&RS=ISD/20140429

Keywords for this news article include: Domaille Engineering LLC.

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Source: Journal of Engineering


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