Pigment Dispersions for Optical Fibers

Penn Color has been there since the mid 1960's to aid the communication industry in identifying and protecting delicate communication systems from the environment and assisting the industry in the identification of the myriad of wires that are crucial to our existence.

Insulating the first copper wires, it became evident that a method of identification would be needed to insure proper connections and to identify needed repairs. Color became the ideal choice and a system was developed to provide a universal palette that could be identified globally. As PVC was the most prevalent polymer for wire and cable shielding, Penn Color was a logical choice to provide PVC colorants to the compounding industry to service this industry. Still a viable market, the vast majority of communication connections utilize hard type connections, copper or aluminum, although protective and identifying coatings have evolved into using a wide variety of polymers as well as PVC.

Part of that evolutionary trail was diverted to the use of Optical Fibers for the transmission of voice and data communications. Benefiting from very small diameters and the ability to carry an enormous amount of data very quickly, optical fibers soon became the cable of choice for communication lines. Unlike copper wire, optical fiber, being composed of a glass compound, required new and innovative coatings techniques to protect the delicate fiber and yet still provide the needed protection. Radiation Curable Coatings seemed to be the ideal choice. Durable, flexible and capable of being deposited in coatings measured in microns, the industry was able to develop systems that would provide the necessary parameters for success. As with PVC coated wire, identification remained a critical part for complete success and implementation.

Since the 1970's Penn Color had been preparing and perfecting UV and EB Colorants for application in the high quality ink market as well as the fast developing circuit board market – areas that UV Coatings are still prevalent today. These technologies were easily transferred to the coloring of Optical Fiber Coatings but required added Technology to insure a coating that could be applied at sub-micron thickness. Particles above this diameter could "dent" the fragile optical fiber and slow down the transmission of data – two characteristics that were unacceptable. As Penn Color was manufacturing UV Color Concentrates containing particles above this required dimension, extensive research into methods of production and also additive packages enabled Penn Color to develop stable, finely divided pigmented systems in a variety of monomers that has proven itself as a mainstay in this industry. The basic color palettes remained intact, basically comprising 10 to 12 single pigment dispersions that could be used individually or in combinations to provide the necessary identification marking system.

The "Wireless" age is upon us but use of Optical Fibers for communication transmission continues to grow. Plans to have every household globally connected via optical fiber for phone and data communication insures continued growth of this market. Penn Color is ideally situated to provide the colorants and technologies to keep this industry on the cutting edge of the communication market.

For more information contact us or e-mail inkandcoatinginfo@penncolor.com.

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