Before the radical idea, there was the problem.
For years, the installation of cable networks field connectors was a fairly time-consuming process. To ensure the seamless flow of data-forming light, each hair-thin strand of glass fiber had to be glued into a connector. Technicians had to tote along portable ovens to heat-cure the special epoxy.
After waiting for the connector to finish curing, the technician would clean and polish the components by hand to ensure the pristine surface required for optical transmission.
On average, it took six to eight minutes to terminate a single connector. Results varied widely, based on the skill and experience of the technician. As recently as the mid-1990s, that’s just how it was.
But as carriers everywhere began to embrace the fast transmission capabilities of optical fiber networks, Corning engineers knew they had to find a better way.
Instead of spending all of that time and effort in the field to make the connectorised fiber pristine, they reasoned, what if instead we supplied customers with a connector that already had a near-perfect end face, courtesy of a factory-polished fiber stub inside? What if that connector only required the technician to quickly cleave and clean the field fiber, then insert it into the connector?
The result was our UniCam(R) Connector, the world’s first no-epoxy, no-polish connector – letting technicians perform that eight-minute process in under a minute, and with far more accurate results.
Controversial for its time, the UniCam Connector is the most widely deployed connector technology in the world today.