FRANKLIN, Tenn., Jan. 16, 2013 — 3SAE Technologies has developed an automated ball lensing station that quickly and accurately creates fiber optic “ball lenses” — rounded-edge fiber cleaves suitable for use in precision laser technologies.
Traditionally, fiber ball lenses are produced using a manual fusion splicing process. The new automated “lensing station” enables large-scale production of the ball lenses that are increasingly used in medical lasers as well as other commercial photonics applications. One medical application is laser lithotripsy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure using fiber optic lasers for the removal of impacted kidney stones.
The ball lensing station features a proprietary and patented Ring of Fire three-electrode system for thermal uniformity during fiber processing, and a vertical fiber mounting system to achieve precise dimensional tolerances. The image processing software package allows the operator to view the progress of the fiber in process. Automatic measurement software enables “one button” operation for high-yield production for multiple parameters, resulting in fast, accurate lens formation for fiber diameters ranging from 125 to 600 µm.
The lens forming station software functions in two modes: “ball” and “flash.” The “ball” mode produces the desired ball or lens diameter; “flash” executes a number of arc cycles to cause a subtle rounding of the edges of the cleaved fiber. An automated pass/fail alert, based upon the pre-set target diameter and threshold limits, is provided once the fiber processing is complete.
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