When a Nortech client, a leader in the medical industry, expressed their need for a much smaller solution than their existing bulk of radio frequency cables and connections, our engineers quickly sprang into action. The Expanded Beam Xtreme™ interconnect system provides massive volume and footprint savings by switching from copper to fiber optic cabling and further increasing the optical density beyond industry norms. This is accomplished with a fiber optic expanded beam solution which maintains near flawless data quality. For our client, this means their existing electronic connections shrink significantly, making critical medical device size reductions available for an improved patient experience.
Expanded Beam Revolution
Expanded beam fiber optic connectors solve the harsh environment challenges of data-hungry aerospace, defense, mining, autonomous robotics, broadcasting, and industrial automation use cases. They also excel in medical applications requiring thousands of mating cycles. Our clients in the medical field know cables are subject to microorganisms, fluids and other contaminants found in clinical settings. However, expanded beam connectors offer the benefit of tolerating dust, debris, and other contaminants on the expanded beam lens. An expanded beam connection is contactless, with light passing through a miniature air gap between a pair of lenses. This improves resistance to vibration and avoids the pitfalls of mechanical wear, dramatically increasing connector reliability. Take those benefits, increase the density, maintain high optical performance, and now you have the essence of Nortech’s Expanded Beam Xtreme™ (EBX™) platform solutions.
The Future Is Expanded Beam Fiber Optic
The expanded beam fiber optic architecture has more capability and better performance at lower cost than the original radio frequency solution it replaced.
Nortech’s Expanded Beam Xtreme™ (EBX™) Offers
The core of Nortech’s EBX™ solution platform begins with high-performing optical components delivering low light loss (i.e., insertion loss) and ruggedized design principles. Our engineers shrunk the size of the expanded beam lens and its related components, packed more of them into new insert arrangements, and also ensured delivery of the same insertion loss as industry-typical expanded beam fiber optic connectors. This architecture provides at least 50% more fiber optic channels (bandwidth) in similar sizes and cost profiles compared to many expanded beam fiber optic competitors.
Where other expanded beam connectors can fit two to four lenses in their insert arrangements, including those inserts about twice the size of our design, Expanded Beam Xtreme™ can fit six smaller yet high-performing ball lenses, which results in dramatically increased data capacities.
To obtain low insertion loss performance, glass fiber roughly the diameter of human hair must be secured to achieve physical contact with the rear surface of each ball lens. This termination success requires very tightly controlled polishing, placement, and tuning processes. In addition, each ball lens is carefully positioned just below the connector’s mating surface to generate a tiny air gap between a lens pair when fully mated, while preventing physical lens contact. The Expanded Beam Xtreme™ platform is flexible, rugged, and light. This makes it an ideal solution for retrofitting or new data-hungry applications and technology advancements in rugged environments.
Unique Qualities of Each Standalone Form Factor
Each family of our expanded beam fiber optic connectors applies tactical-grade bend-insensitive OM3 fiber optic cabling providing up to 10 gigabits per second per channel.
Unique offerings include:
- Up to 36 channels in a blind mateable standalone Rack & Panel style connector.
- 6 channels in a D3899 connector shell for environmentally sealed inline optic cable connections.
- 6 channels in a quick-disconnect solution made of lightweight composite shell materials.
- 36 channels in bay C of an ARINC 600-series blind mateable rack and panel style connector. This leaves bays A and B available for copper and RF contacts or additional fiber optic arrangements
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