Ruggedization of Expanded Beam Fiber Optic Cables

Nortech Systems recently announced an expansion of its fiber optic capabilities with the launch of Expanded Beam XtremeTM (EBXTM), a ruggedized and highly customizable platform of fiber optic solutions.

Expanded beam fiber optic connectors use a larger beam diameter than a physical contact interface. The oversized light beam used in a lensed connection provides increased tolerance of misalignment and vibration, as well as improved performance in harsh environments.

Benefits of Using Ruggedized Expanded Beam Fiber Optic Cables

Misalignment Tolerance: These cables transmit a higher percentage of light than misaligned physical contact fiber optic cables, which results in better bandwidth performance in dynamic applications. The use of an oversized collimated light stream (larger diameter than the fiber optic core) dramatically reduces the impact of interconnect misalignments during shock and vibration events.


Mating Cycles: Expanded beam interfaces are best-in-class solutions for applications requiring multiple mating cycles (up to many tens of thousands) in dynamic and/or contaminated environments. In stark contrast, physical contact interfaces are typically rated for less than 100 mating cycles because their optical performance degrades as they become subjected to mating cycles or other movements. In addition, physical contact interfaces require more care in cleaning to prevent endface obstructions or damage caused by foreign object debris (FOD).

Ruggedized Expanded Beam Fiber optic.

Increased Durability: Expanded beam fiber optic cables are far more durable than physical contact cables, which makes them significantly less likely to fail in the field. This is important for applications where the optical connection is exposed to harsh environments.

In recent years, advancements in machining and molding technologies have allowed the industry to produce components with tighter tolerance controls. These new capabilities open the door to miniaturization of expanded beam technology allowing Nortech to create smaller more dense lens configurations and connectors while maintaining industry-leading optical data performance.

Expanded Beam Connectors

In an expanded beam collimated interface, an initial expanded beam lens in Connector A expands light waves to traverse a small air gap when mated to Connector B. A lens in Connector B contracts the light waves to complete the interface. Using this non-physical-contact technology, expanded beam connectors allow for near perfect alignment of two fiber optic cables by mitigating the risk of endface damage or obstruction inherent in physical contact interfaces.

Physical contact connectors may offer slightly lower insertion loss when initially installed. However, their optical performance degrades and/or fails when exposed to movement from vibration or physical shock, thermal stress, and mating cycles. As a result, maintenance to clean and repolish fiber enfaces must be performed by trained technicians to retain optimal optical performance. In contrast, expanded beam connectors require no special servicing or cleaning equipment. The non­physical-contact approach of a lensed interface ensures reliable optical insertion loss performance throughout the entire life of the product.

Ruggedized expanded beam fiber optic connectors offer several advantages over physical contact fiber optic connectors. Data applications needing superior performance in challenging environmental conditions require ruggedized expanded beam fiber optic connectors.

Future of Expanded Beams

Looking ahead, innovators like Nortech Systems are improving fiber optics for the future.

Rapid growth in data-heavy communications, edge computing, miniaturization, and other Industry 4.0 initiatives are creating high demand for reliable data connectivity in increasingly dynamic applications. In parallel, advancing capabilities in component manufacturability are driving reductions in supply chain cost. As a result, expanded beam lensed technology is experiencing rapid growth. This combination ushers in a revolutionary era of new expanded beam lens densities and connector arrangements.

Nortech’s experts look forward to collaborating with you to select ideal solutions for your data management challenges.