Top Promising Innovation – Fiber Flex Foils
Note: Last year, we unveiled our top 40 innovations made by CommScope or one of its acquired companies. This recognition was part of our 40th anniversary celebration. We are proud of all our innovations—past and present. Now, we look to new innovations that we hope will become the essential building blocks for the networks of the future. In a series of blogs, we will introduce you to our Top Promising Innovations in the world of wireless and fiber optics. We believe these innovations have the potential to have significant impact on the industry, much like some of the others from our past.
Fiber Flex Foil
Definition: A fiber flex foil is a sub-assembly of multiple
fibers routed into an adhesive layer on a flexible plastic foil. It is covered
with a flexible coating material. It has the capability to make high count
fiber routing patterns.
of Innovation: 2009
What is the
innovation that CommScope was first in creating?
While this innovation was first created at TE Connectivity
in 2009, it remained behind closed doors due to trade laws. The technology
itself isn’t new, but the application is unique. The team created the
capability to place fibers on a flexible substrate with state-of-the-art fully
automated equipment. It is incredibly accurate and fast to route the fibers.
What was happening in
the market that this innovation was needed?
We like to say that history was repeating itself. In the
past we moved in the electrical domain from discrete copper wires to printed circuit
boards (PCB). We now can say that fiber flex foils are the predecessor of the
fully optical PCB, which still is under development. Increases in data and
fiber density required us to come up with this technology.
How does this
innovation benefit customers and the industry?
Fiber flex foils enable us to build very compact designs for
high density data center applications. In addition, the manufacturing
automation it enables has improved the quality and performance of our
microcassettes, the first product that uses the technology.
What are some of the
early marketplace successes for this innovation?
Besides the micro cassette project, flex foils have also
been applied to a number of MPO products.
What is the
significance of the innovation for CommScope?
Fiber flex foils change how we design and implement fiber
routing products, enabling more manufacturing automation, smaller footprint
designs and improved optical performance. In the future, the technology could
be used in combination with integrated photonics and to connect optical
components in a high density environment.
follow any established industry standards or do you believe it might set a
precedent for its own?
We have a number of patents surrounding the fundamental flex
foil technology, and we are continuing to use the technology to create new and
improved fiber optic products.
How do you see this
It will be used initially in high fiber density
applications. Additional processes are under development to enable automated
connector assembly to a fiber flex foil. This will be another step in the
direction of full automation for fiber products. The technology will evolve to
support new fiber types such as WBMMF fibers and 80 micron fibers.
The next likely usage for the technology will be with
silicon photonics, where fiber flex foils will enable the interconnection of
multiple silicon photonic devices using high speed fiber optic pathways.
Rietveld contributed to this post and owns two patents around this technology.
About the Author
Paul started his career with CommScope in 1999 and has subsequently
worked within the Corporate, DataComm and BNS organizations. During his career
with TE, he held a range of technical positions in manufacturing, process,
product and automation engineering, contributing to his deep knowledge and
understanding of fiber optics. He holds multiple patents and has presented papers on fiber topics. In
2014, he received an accountability award from the TE corporate fiber optics team. Paul
has contributed to the development of key products through his knowledge and
ability to invent termination, and tuning and polishing processes. His
extensive experience in the fiber optic manufacturing locations around the
world play a crucial role in the proposed global manufacturing footprints that make
us a leader in the field.