We invite you on a tour of our fiber optic cable manufacturing facilities in Carrollton, Georgia, USA. View the highly automated OFS manufacturing process that produces a wide variety of fiber optic cables and products for telecommunications applications. Loose tube, microcables, flat ribbon, ADSS, ultra high density rollable ribbon cables and premise cables are all made here.
What is Fiber Optic Cable Made up of?
Fiber optic cables are made up of several components: a core, cladding, jacket, and strength members.
The core is the optical fiber itself which is a continuous strand of ultra-thin glass.
Within the core, there are two highly specialized glass coatings called cladding and jacketing.
The cladding helps bounce back imperceptible light signals as they travel along the cable by reflecting off of its walls.
The jacketing protects the delicate optical fibers from mechanical damage and environmental effects.
Lastly, strength members such as aramid yarns or steel wires are used to reinforce and protect the cable further against bending or stretching forces. Together these components form a fiber optic cable that carries light signals over long distances without signal loss or interference.
The Carrollton facility is vertically integrated, with fiber delivered on a daily basis from the OFS Norcross facility, approximately one hour away.
The manufacturing facility is registered in compliance with the ISO 9001, ISO 14000, and TL 9000 standards. Traceability is maintained through every step of the process and ultimately back to the incoming fiber. The facility also has a fully functional product qualification lab and cable installation test track.
OFS Uses Both 200 and 250 Micron Fibers
OFS makes several different fiber structures in the Carrollton facility, including loose tube, flat ribbon and rollable ribbon structures. These structures are used in different cable types and applications.
Statistical Process Control Techniques
Each stage in the manufacturing process is highly controlled with appropriate dimensional targets and tolerances.
Colored ink is applied to the Fiber
The industry standard color code is used to provide clear identification of the fibers over their lifetimes. Colored ink is applied to specified thicknesses, cured, and respooled for the next step in the process.
Buffer Tube Manufacturing Process
To make loose tubes, fibers or ribbons are paid off of their spools and a buffer tube is extruded around them. The Carrollton plant makes gel-free and gel-filled buffer tubes of different materials, including polypropylene and PBT. Different sized buffer tubes are used for different product types. Buffer tubes used in outside plant applications include either water blocking materials impregnated with super absorbent polymer or gel.
Ribbon Manufacturing Process
A matrix material is applied to the fibers to bind them together so they can be spliced as a group. 12 and 24 fiber flat ribbons are most common. Fiber color code alignment and geometric specifications are very important so ribbons can be spliced and connected in the field.
Rollable ribbons are only partially bonded together, enabling them to be rolled into a cylindrical package. Rollable ribbons are only partially bonded together, enabling them to be rolled into a cylindrical package. Since circles are more space efficient than rectangles, rollable ribbons cables can hold twice the fibers as comparable sized flat ribbon cables. Since these fibers are partially bonded, they can be easily spliced either as single fibers or as a ribbon, giving more deployment flexibility to the network operator.
OFS makes two main types of cables – stranded cables and central tube cables.
Stranded cables are made by stranding tubes of fibers, flat ribbons, or rollable ribbons around a central member. Stranded cables are often used in applications requiring frequent access to fibers.
Central tube cables are made by extruding a central tube around a fiber structure. Central tube cables can provide higher fiber density.
Strength members, including fiberglass and aramid yarns are used to limit the strain on cables and fiber when tension is applied to cables.
Water Blocking Materials
Yarns and tapes are added to provide water blocking outside the core of the cable.
For direct-buried cables, one or more steel armor layers may be added to provide rodent resistance and toning capability.
Different versions of polyethylene are used for the majority of outside plant cables. For inside plant or indoor/outdoor cables, materials are chosen to include appropriate flame and smoke resistance.
Type of cable, date of manufacture, length and a unique serial number that can enable traceability through the manufacturing process is printed.
Once manufacturing is complete, the finished cable undergoes final testing for length and optical properties.
Cables are then packaged for shipment and loaded on trucks to their final destination.