Optical Fiber – The Backbone of Today’s Digital Economy

As global data traffic grows, added demand is being put on the world’s communication networks. To address those demands, high-speed optical transceivers, flexible and scalable optical transport products, compact connectors and fiber management are all vital capabilities to build high-bandwidth and high-density communication equipment to serve telecom, enterprise and hyperscale data centers.

Because fiber can enable high-speed data transfer in both short- and long-range communications, Hyperscale data centers and telecommunications service providers are two growth markets for expanded integration of optical fiber networks.  But as interest in cloud-based applications, video-on-demand services and 5G networks grow, these areas will also push added fiber optic applications growth. Beyond data center and telecom, optical fiber is also growing in industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical and oil and gas.

“Demand for fiber optic components is increasing, due to growing bandwidth requirements and increases in network demand,” says Adam Houston, product manager at Molex. “Bandwidth is doubling every five years.”

Shifts in Fiber Optics Assembly

While fiber optics sometimes gets a reputation for being challenging, recent advancements have made fiber optics assembly easier to process. Many Molex customers use manual assembly processes, which involve jacket and fiber buffer removal, fiber insertion into the ceramic ferrule with epoxy and then polishing the end face.

“Engineers typically rely on epoxy to attach optical fibers to ferrules, because they need a stable interface over temperature and lifetime,” explains Tom Marrapode, director of advanced technology development at Molex. “Quick-curing UV adhesives are also used for some applications—mostly in data centers that don’t have harsh environmental requirements or shorter lifetimes.”

Connect with Our Experts

As a leading supplier of advanced fiber optic components, Molex has an extensive product offering that includes a full range of optical solutions from connectors, adapters and cables to backplanes and high-density interconnects. Molex’s experience and resources provide customers a wide range of design, manufacturing and value-added services.

Adam Houston, myself and our Molex colleague Tom Marrapode recently spoke with Assembly Magazine about fiber optics and how the manufacturing process has evolved. Check out the January 2020 interview here.