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  • kSaria Automates Fiber Cable Assembly
Feb 2006
LAWRENCE, Mass., Feb. 10, 2006 -- As part of a manufacturing technology program initiated by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to support the US Navy’s ongoing migration to fiber optic technology, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer has developed a way to completely automate the production of military-grade fiber optic cables.
The new automated manufacturing technology -- developed by kSaria Corp. of Lawrence, Mass. -- enables the production of fiber optic cables for aeronautical, shipboard and weapon systems applications. The program was funded by ONR through a cooperative agreement with Pennsylvania State University’s Electro-Optics Center, the Navy’s Center of Excellence for electro-optics manufacturing technology.
Working as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin on the ONR program, kSaria demonstrated an automated manufacturing platform that uses precision robotics and a cassette drive to fully automate each step in the production process: initial cable preparation, terminus attachment, epoxy cure, end-face polishing and final inspection of critical elements affecting cable performance.
"The performance of a fiber optic communication link in the fleet is highly dependent on the quality and reliability of the cable assembly process. The prevalent assembly method relies on a highly manual process consisting of up to 35 tedious yet critical steps," the ONR said in a statement. "This manpower-intensive approach is prone to human error and makes quality dependent upon the skill levels of individual technicians."
As a result, many Navy acquisition programs have experienced problems obtaining repeatable fiber optic connector terminations, the ONR said.
Richard Henson of the Navy’s Manufacturing Technology Office at ONR launched the Tri-Syscom manufacturing technology program to address this problem by funding the development of automated fiber optic interconnect technology.
Henson said, "Fiber optic cabling is a compelling solution for Navy applications because of its light weight, high bandwidth and low interference characteristics. It’s a technology we want. But the variability in cable quality and performance could potentially jeopardize a mission-critical system and impact the overall readiness of the Navy. The ONR program was a proactive initiative set up to solve this problem before our ships and planes are proliferated with fiber optics."
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