by Ryan Barner
Fiber optic cables are highly desired for their speed of transmission and are growing as an industry. However, the industrial furnaces used for glass manufacturing require stable and repeatable control of gas for melt and annealing processes.
Preforms are the layered cylinders of glass, made on lathes using chemical deposition vapor flows, burners for heating and melting glass and pressure control to retain the shape while it is being formed. While the fiber drawing process means heating the end of a glass preform, and shaping the melting end into a cone that creates a continuous stream of molten glass which descends and cools into a fiber, which must then be guided in a way that will not break or alter it, while checking the thickness and adding layers to protect it.
Both require mass flow and pressure controllers that are fast, reliable and have high turndown ratios, all while functioning in potentially high temperature environments and compatibility with corrosive fuel gasses.
Industrial furnaces utilizing fuel gases for their burners exhibit low pressures. Alicat Whisper series mass flow controllers offer a controllable range up to 1000 SLPM. These flow rates can be achieved with a pressure drop across the Alicat MFC of as little as 1.65 PSI on our highest flow rate Whisper series controllers. This means even if the supply pressure is low, as fuel gases typically are, it is possible to control up to a full scale flow rate of 1000 SLPM.Alicat mass flow and pressure control instruments for glass and optical fiber manufacturing.
These low pressure instruments may also be deployed in annealing ovens and lehr ovens during the finishing process. Using Alicat MFCs allow for control in each zone of the oven with repeatability and precision even if a low supply pressure is a requirement. Ninety-eight gases and gas mixes are pre-programmed into an Alicat MFC providing options for variability in projects and processes.
Alicat MCW-series whisper mass flow controller, shown with optional backlit color display
In preform manufacturing, fiber drawing or ribbon forming processes – stable and fast mass flow and pressure control instruments not only ensure a better end product, but with Alicat devices, achieving these results is easier with our highly customized instruments and advice from Application Engineers.
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