Compact all-in-one hand-held tool for connecting fibre optics
Automating precision tasks is right up DEMCON’s street. This is demonstrated by the assignment from TE Connectivity to develop a tool to make a connection between two fibre optic cable tips. This is a very precise task and still needs a lot of skill and professional expertise. TE has developed a special connector suited to automated processing by means of a so-called Light Plug Tool. To create the tool, TE went in search of a development partner with expertise in the field of mechatronics and found DEMCON.
DEMCON had to face various challenges. First of all, the tool had to integrate a large number of process steps (cutting, stripping, cleaning, cleaving, plasma treatment, inspection and connector placing) and be universally able to connect different makes of fibre optic cable. In addition, the tool had to be extremely easy to use and be constructed in a compact and robust way as a portable model for use with one hand.
Validating the different process steps was a complex task. In collaboration with TE Connectivity, DEMCON was able to come up with a robust design with high process yield through the use of ‘six sigma techniques’. DEMCON built a test version that allowed TE to validate all the concepts and design proposals. The processes had to be robust enough so that no checkpoints needed to be built in, because there was no space in the tool for this.
Subsequently, DEMCON took the step towards miniaturisation and simplification. It manufactured several prototypes in-house that TE Connectivity deployed for assessment by customers. The Light Plug Tool has now proved itself in field tests. TE also relied on DEMCON for the purposes of series production for advice on potential cost price optimisation and research into the feasibility of TE’s ideas for industrialisation.
The development of the Light Plug Tool was part of a European project called VECTOR: Versatile Easy installable Connector implementing new Technologies for accelerated fibre Optic network Roll‑outs in Europe. Within VECTOR, TE Connectivity and DEMCON worked alongside industrial and academic partners. Their mutual goal was to accelerate rolling out fibre optics, from transatlantic to ‘fibre-to-the-home’ – with technology ‘from the house of DEMCON’.