VECTOR to make optical fiber connections fast and reliable

Reviplast online - February 23, 2013

A new European initiative for the telecom industry has been launched. VECTOR (Versatile Easy installable Connector implementing new Technologies for accelerated fiber Optic network Roll-outs in Europe) is a partnership between European universities and the telecom industry with the aim to conduct research activities to develop a field installable optical fiber connector system. The system will greatly accelerate the deployment of extended fiber optic networks.

High speed internet requires access to optical fiber communication links. In order to distribute signals in fiber optic networks, optical fibers need to be connected with each other, preferably in a reconfigurable manner. Installing connectors on such tiny glass optical fibers in the field currently requires highly specialized personnel and a multitude of dedicated tools. Dust and dirt make it almost impossible to achieve field connections with a quality level close to the one attainable in a factory or lab environment. The outcome of the current research promises to be a connector system that guarantees factory-like performance during field installation.

VECTOR exploits the latest developments in the field of heat-shrinkable materials, nano- materials, high-tech gels, micro-fabrication and micro-mechanical alignment systems to achieve optical connections with superior specifications. Partners from all over Europe have teamed up to achieve the project objectives. The project is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and coordinated by  TE Connectivity (through its Belgium entity, Tyco Electronics Raychem BVBA). VECTOR also relies on important contributions from DEMCON Advanced Mechatronics BV (The Netherlands), Celoplás – Plásticos para a Indústria SA(Portugal), Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Universiteit Gent (Belgium), Telecom Italia S.p.A. (Italy) and Telekom Deutschland GmbH (Germany).

Stéphane Berghmans, project coordinator at TE Connectivity testifies: “Current connection technology requires extensive pre-engineering and highly specialized manpower for field deployment. This makes the installation slow, unreliable and ultimately raises the cost per connection to hardly manageable levels. With VECTOR we intend to make fiber optic connections as easy  as electrical wire connections and to bring affordable ultrafast internet connections to all European households”.

Celoplás – Plásticos para a Indústria S.A. is a SME, based in Northern Portugal, presently with a working force of 133 and an industrial area of 10.000 m². During the last 20 years, Celoplás has been involved in conception, development and production of high precision technical parts, using injection molding technology and converting all kind of thermopastics, thermosets and liquid silicons. The company has its own skills in the production of injection moulds (conventional, overmolding, multi-component) and all tools and equipments needed for post-production complex operations, including handling and automatic assembling. 
The company is presenty reinforcing its I&D investments, focusing on micro-technologies (moulding, mouldmaking, metrology), metal and eramic powder injection molding technologies for the photonic, electronic and automotive sectors. I&D investments represent 4 to 5% of the company revenues. Presently, the company is involved in several other I&D projects of high relevante for the future.