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Researchers at the University of Southampton are set to investigate using 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, techniques in the fabrication of optical fibre. This entirely new way of making fibre could pave the way for more complex structures capable of unlocking a host of applications in a wide range of industries, from biotechnology to aerospace and telecommunications.
Current techniques used to produce optical fibre preforms - the piece of glass from which an optical fibre is drawn - give a consistent structure along the length of the preform but make it difficult to control the shape and composition of the fibre in 3D. This limits the degree of flexibility that engineers can exercise in the design of the fibre and as a consequence, the capabilities that the fibres can offer.
The new technique, being developed by Professor Jayanta Sahu, together with his colleagues from the University of Southampton’s Zepler Institute and co-investigator Dr Shoufeng Yang from the Faculty of Engineering and Environment, will allow engineers to manufacture preforms with far more complex structures and different features along their lengths.
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Source: University of Southampton