Novel Multiple Materials Additive Manufacturing Instrument for New Generation of Optical fibre Fabrication

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)

Abstract

In this proposal we will design, fabricate and employ a novel multiple materials additive manufacturing (MMAM) equipment
to enable us to make optical fibre preforms (both in conventional and microstructured fibre geometries) in silica and other
host glass materials. In existing low-loss fibre preform fabrication methods, based on either chemical vapour deposition
technique for conventional solid index guiding fibres or 'stack and draw' process for micro-structured fibre, it is very difficult
to control composition in 3D. Our proposed MMAM can be utilised to produce complex preforms, which is otherwise too
difficult or time consuming or currently impossible to achieve by the existing fabrication techniques. This will open up a
route to manufacture novel fibre structures in silica and other glasses for a wide range of applications, covering from
telecommunications, sensing, lab-in-a-fibre, metamaterial fibre, to high-power laser, and subsequently we are expected to
gain significant economic growth in the future.

Planned Impact

The project is expected to have a wide range of impact, ranging from generation of new scientific knowledge to
commercial, through ultimately to providing true benefits to the society at large. The result of this research will be
considerable interest to both academia and industry working in the area of optoelectronics, photonics components and
additive manufacturing.
UK is recognised as a stronghold of optical fibre technology and fibre laser technology around the world. Development of
new generation of special fibres and their large scale manufacturing capability will extend the impact of optical fibres
beyond telecommunications, as diverse as defence, industrial processing, energy, healthcare, security and environmental
monitoring arenas and develop new applications in basic science. The UK economy has major players in all these fields.
Fibre lasers are rapidly replacing the other type of more conventional lasers with worldwide sales in excess of $600M and a
predicted annual growth rate of 20 - 40%. UK holds 10% of the global market for fibre laser. SPI lasers and Fianium are
leaders in industrial fibre lasers and ultrafast fibre lasers. Both are dependent on special fibres for fibre lasers. Fibrecore
markets speciality optical fibres. Thus major improvement in fibre performance will enable UK companies to expand their
product portfolio and increase their market penetration and share.
In order to sustain the growth of fibre-based technology and to extend the impact of optical fibres in many other important
areas our proposed advance manufacturing process of new class of special optical fibres and components is expected to
gain significant economic growth in the UK.
The project will generate new scientific knowledge and train people with new skills, specifically in AM and novel fibre
fabrication areas.
 
Description The main goal of this project was to demonstrate novel geometry optical fibre preforms/optical waveguides using 3D printing technique (also called additive manufacturing). 3D printing equipment for fabricating optical fibre preforms in polymers and glass were developed within this project. Optical fibre preforms in different polymers have been realised targeting applications in terahertz and visible wavelengths. In addition, the selective laser sintering (SLS) process was used to produce preforms from silica powders using a CO2 laser. The laser beam was selectively focused on a layer of silica powder in order to print the structure. The process was then repeated layer-by-layer to obtain a three-dimensional structure. Next, the 3D printed porous body was heat treated at high temperature in presence of O2/He/Cl2 gases before being assembled for the fibre drawing process. Complex geometry preforms such as multicore fibre, microstructured optical fibre, and anti-resonant fibre - preforms were build using the SLS process.
Exploitation Route The proposed 3D printing technique of fibre fabrication has received significant interest from other research groups within and outside UK. Some examples of on-going collaborations are; a) realisation of complex geometry preforms in polymers with designs provided by the City University of London, b) polymer fibre drawing at UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico, and c) mechanical analysis of additive manufacturing process with ITESM (Tecnologico de Monterrey), Mexico.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Other

 
Description Open Call for Innovation: Emerging Innovations - Cycle 2
Amount £71,251 (GBP)
Funding ID 1000127325 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 06/2019
 
Description 3D printed polymer preform 
Organisation City, University of London
Department Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of additive manufacturing processes in polymer; Characterisation of starting materials and optimisation of 3D printing process. Fabrication of preforms with complex geometries.
Collaborator Contribution 1. UNAM (Mexico) Polymer preforms made with different 3-D printing conditions were drawn and analysed to link to preform fabrication. 2. ITESM (Mexico) Analysis of present 3D printing conditions. Modification of printing parameters by generating a new software code for the 3D printer. 3. City, University of London/University of Technology Sydney Fibre design
Impact Design and realisation of a novel fibre design that will offer low-loss at terahertz wavelength.
Start Year 2017
 
Description 3D printed polymer preform 
Organisation Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education
Country Mexico 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of additive manufacturing processes in polymer; Characterisation of starting materials and optimisation of 3D printing process. Fabrication of preforms with complex geometries.
Collaborator Contribution 1. UNAM (Mexico) Polymer preforms made with different 3-D printing conditions were drawn and analysed to link to preform fabrication. 2. ITESM (Mexico) Analysis of present 3D printing conditions. Modification of printing parameters by generating a new software code for the 3D printer. 3. City, University of London/University of Technology Sydney Fibre design
Impact Design and realisation of a novel fibre design that will offer low-loss at terahertz wavelength.
Start Year 2017
 
Description 3D printed polymer preform 
Organisation National Autonomous University of Mexico
Country Mexico 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of additive manufacturing processes in polymer; Characterisation of starting materials and optimisation of 3D printing process. Fabrication of preforms with complex geometries.
Collaborator Contribution 1. UNAM (Mexico) Polymer preforms made with different 3-D printing conditions were drawn and analysed to link to preform fabrication. 2. ITESM (Mexico) Analysis of present 3D printing conditions. Modification of printing parameters by generating a new software code for the 3D printer. 3. City, University of London/University of Technology Sydney Fibre design
Impact Design and realisation of a novel fibre design that will offer low-loss at terahertz wavelength.
Start Year 2017
 
Description 3D printed polymer preform 
Organisation University of Technology Sydney
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of additive manufacturing processes in polymer; Characterisation of starting materials and optimisation of 3D printing process. Fabrication of preforms with complex geometries.
Collaborator Contribution 1. UNAM (Mexico) Polymer preforms made with different 3-D printing conditions were drawn and analysed to link to preform fabrication. 2. ITESM (Mexico) Analysis of present 3D printing conditions. Modification of printing parameters by generating a new software code for the 3D printer. 3. City, University of London/University of Technology Sydney Fibre design
Impact Design and realisation of a novel fibre design that will offer low-loss at terahertz wavelength.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Outreach activities in primary and secondary schools, workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Promoting science to local schools.
One of the outreach activities was related to the international day of light 2018 that was published in Proceedings of SPIE (DOI: 10.1117/12.2320304).
Promoting women in science technology engineering and medicine (STEM) - activities led by Angeles Camacho-Rosales.
XVI Symposium MEXSOC UK, Southampton 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018