Last Updated: March 11, 2022
This blog is authored by the FOC TEAM including:
Donna Brodie, Business Development, Films, Technical Sales; Dan Rocheleau, Business Development, Technical Sales; and Mario Goduco, Business Development, Technical Sales
When fiber optic cable assembly process engineers are implementing or changing a process, they naturally ask a lot of questions. Engineers recognize that polishing film (aka lapping film) will play a critical role in attaining a stable manufacturing process with repeatable results, meeting product specifications, and achieving business goals.
That’s why we hear this question quite often: “Why use ÅngströmLap lapping film over other manufacturers?”
The three authors of this article have many decades of experience in the fiber optic industry. Two of us bring in-depth expertise in the polishing process and one brings significant expertise in lapping films. We sat down together to put forth a thoughtful answer to the question posed above.
In our discussion, we identified four key reasons why it is advantageous for cable assembly houses to use Fiber Optic Center’s ÅngströmLap polishing film. These are: Quality, Service and Support, Engineering Solutions, and Cost. We invite you to read the following paragraphs for more detail and, of course, contact us with any questions about your polishing process and our lapping film.
QUALITY: ÅngströmLap polishing film offers lot-to-lot consistency and more.
Fiber Optic Center’s ÅngströmLap lapping film is manufactured by Mipox Corporation. In fact, FOC has cemented a technical partnership with Mipox. (This is a much more robust relationship than a distributor arrangement.) Thanks to this strong technical partnership, Fiber Optic Center is able to provide consistently high-quality polishing media and compounds to our customers – as well as an extraordinary depth of polishing expertise.
Established in 1925, Mipox has a long history of being a forward-looking company. In 1966, the company established its polishing film and abrasives division with an initial focus on developing polishing materials for computer hard drives. In the late 1980s, Mipox made a commitment to support the fiber optics industry with high-quality polishing materials. Now backed by 30 years in fiber optics, the company truly has an in-depth understanding of our industry.
At Fiber Optic Center, we often speak of Mipox’s dedication to quality. Mipox is ISO certified in 9001 and 14001. Thanks to their strict adherence to quality control procedures, state-of-the-art equipment, fully automated production lines, and the engineering staff’s expertise, Mipox consistently produces high-quality ÅngströmLap lapping films. At FOC, our in-house polishing film experts receive very few complaints or product returns. If an issue arises, we work closely with the customer to quickly resolve the issue.
What’s the most common customer feedback? They tell us how much they appreciate ÅngströmLap’s lot-to-lot consistency since this directly impacts process stability and product yield. In fact, one of the authors of this article has used virtually every brand of polishing film since 1979. He looks for film consistency that is evident under the microscope as surface grain left by the polishing film on the material being polished. The material being polished can be glass, Pyrex, quartz, or ceramic. The consistency and quality of a manufacturer’s film is affected by its deposition process of controlled particle sizes and the orientation of the particles on the backing film. This orientation is critical to the surface grain or resultant surface finish on the material. Mipox has consistently exhibited this on its diamond, silicon carbide and aluminum films, which makes it a reliable polishing media.
SERVICE AND SUPPORT: Fiber Optic Center provides a unique level of expertise to support the ÅngströmLap film – and your polishing process.
Whether you’re new to Fiber Optic Center – or have been teaming with us for years – it’s helpful to recognize the “value-add” of using FOC’s ÅngströmLap polishing film. What do we mean by this? Fiber Optic Center has technical support members on staff with significant expertise in BOTH the polishing process and lapping film. This team, located in the Americas and Europe, is dedicated to helping you quickly resolve technical issues. This is a significant and unique “value-add” that Fiber Optic Center offers to our customers.
If customers experience an issue with the ÅngströmLap lapping film or their polishing process, we work closely with them to resolve the issue. Typically, this consists of:
- Holding a conference call or visiting the customers’ facilities to better under the problem
- Comparing and testing good and bad sample products, then offering specific recommendations and advice
- Asking the film manufacturer to replicate the process, so we can compare SEM photos and check general properties
We understand the cable assembly manufacturing business – this is what we do, this is our specialty. That means we understand how important polishing film is to product quality. Our customers cannot afford for their films to not work – this could shut down the production line. That’s why we guide customers to ensure their polishing process yields consistent results, and we team with them to resolve any polishing issues. We as a company are committed to helping our customers improve their polishing process – and keep their production lines moving.
ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS: Our polishing film manufacturer, Mipox Corporation, is attuned to industry needs and responsive to specific customer requests.
In answering the question – Why use ÅngströmLap lapping film over other manufacturers? – it is helpful to know about the Mipox engineering team’s commitment to product development. In fact, the company’s responsiveness to develop new and custom applications is a significant benefit to Fiber Optic Center customers who use ÅngströmLap polishing films. Our customers know they have a partner that will work with them to develop a solution for unique polishing needs.
For example, a portion of the fiber optic industry was demanding a final polishing film for ceramic ferrules that results in fiber height protrusion. At the time, the final polishing films available on the market had resulted in undercut (the fiber being cut underneath the surface of the ferrule). We communicated this industry request to Mipox, and they responded by developing a specific ÅngströmLap final polishing film that results in fiber protrusion. (Click to read more on this topic.)
In another example, Fiber Optic Center identified certain weaknesses of cerium oxide-coated flock pile pads when it comes to surface quality results for MT ferrules. We teamed with Mipox to develop the first and only silicon dioxide-coated flock pile pad, which further improves our customers’ ability to meet surface quality requirements. (Click to read more on this topic.)
Here’s another example: A few FOC customers were having process problems that resulted in an excessive “core dip” in multimode fibers, so we took the issue to Mipox. Their engineers studied the problem, created a prototype film, ran tests and – within a few months – came up with a new film to solve our customers’ core dip problem.
Often, we’ll take a single customer request to Mipox for product development when a cable assembly house needs a particular film or polishing material. Having a polishing film partner that will work with you to quickly develop a solution gives you an edge. When it comes to lapping film, a strength of Fiber Optic Center and our ÅngströmLap polishing film is that we can meet your needs, whatever they are.
COST: FOC’s ÅngströmLap film is competitively priced, plus you get a significant level of technical service and support.
When purchasing manufacturing materials, oftentimes, you simply place an order and the box arrives – and that’s the end of the relationship. At Fiber Optic Center, we believe this is the beginning of the relationship.
With Fiber Optic Center’s ÅngströmLap lapping film, along with competitive pricing, you get the “value-add” of lot-to-lot consistency (which translates to a stable polishing process), expert technical service and support for your polishing process, and our in-house expertise in polishing film.
We also offer:
- A large inventory with a variety of sizes and grits in stock (click to view lapping film options)
- Any shape you need: sheet, disk, or roll
- Same-day shipping
Hundreds of fiber optic cable assembly facilities around the world use Fiber Optic Center’s ÅngströmLap polishing film, including multiple Fortune 500 companies. When new customers come to FOC, they often comment that we offer much more than they realized, particularly once they discover we have polishing process technical experts on staff as well as lapping film experts.
As noted above, we invite you to contact us to learn more about ÅngströmLap lapping film as well as for support and service – whether you’re implementing a new polishing process, fine-tuning your process to ensure it produces repeatable results, or looking for help to resolve a polishing issue.