Systematics of Manufacturing Technologies
According to Science News and John Canning who led the research team from the University of Technology in Sydney, “Making silica optical fiber involves the labor-intensive process of spinning tubes on a lathe, which requires the fiber’s core or cores to be precisely centered. With additive manufacturing, there’s no need for the fiber geometry to be centered. This removes one of the greatest limitations in fiber design and greatly reduces the cost of fiber manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing approaches such as 3D printing are well suited to change the entire approach to fiber design and purpose. This could, for example, broaden the applications of fiber optic sensors, which far outperform electronic equivalents in terms of longevity, calibration and maintenance but haven’t been widely deployed due to their expensive fabrication.”
According to Sourabh Saha, the paper’s lead and corresponding author is now an assistant professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, “Instead of using a single point of light, we project a million points simultaneously. This scales up the process dramatically because instead of working with a single point that has to be scanned to create the structure, we can use an entire plane of projected light. Instead of focusing on a single point, we have an entire focused plane that can be patterned into arbitrary structures.”