3D soft glass printing of preforms for microstructured optical fibers

Gołębiewski P., Wiencław P., Cimek J., Socha P., Pysz D., Filipkowski A., Stępniewski G., Czerwińska O., Kujawa I., Stępień R., Kasztelanic R., Burgs A., Buczyński R.

Additive Manufacturing

79, 2024, art. 103899, 10.1016/j.addma.2023.103899

We report on the development of a 3D printing process dedicated to the production of soft glass optical fibers. Direct printing with a miniaturized crucible for melting glass blocks with a pneumatic extrusion head was established. For 3D printing, a developed in-house heavy metal oxide glass was used. Contrary to previous studies on 3D printing of optical fiber preforms, the proposed process is based on the deposition of straight horizontally-oriented lines with a diameter of 300–500 µm to replace standard stack-and-draw manual assembly technique typically used in the development of microstructured optical fiber preforms. A test fiber preform composed of 2500 microrods with dimensions of 60x25x25 mm was printed. As a proof of concept, a photonic crystal fiber preform composed of a solid core and 3 rings of air holes in photonic crystal cladding was printed, and further processed into the optical fiber using a standard fiber drawing tower. We measured a single mode performance of fabricated fibers at 1.55 µm, and flat dispersion in the range of 1.6 – 2.2 µm with zero dispersion wavelength at 1.70 µm.