Optical fiber network that has popularized the current high-speed internet communication. The optical fiber networks of the electric power companies are laid out on the electric cables on the top of the high-voltage steel tower. As optical fibers are fragile because of their raw material being glass, they are protected by inserting aluminium wire core to avoid breakage by possible bending of electric cable. Such wire is the aluminium spacer of our product.
When you look at the section of the aluminium spacer, it has grooves to have optical fibers laid out, making its shape almost like a petal.
As our company had had little experience in processing other than wiredrawing of stainless steel by using dies until we got involved in production of the aluminium spacer, we first tried wiredrawing by using special shaped dies in our development. However, the wiredrawing by using special shaped dies failed to make a petal shape of the section. And it could not be used as merchandize because of scars on the surface. Although we performed multiple times of wiredrawing by dies to try to make the section shape closer to the product shape, we failed to make the shape.
Then, instead of wiredrawing by the special shaped dies, we tried to groove the round wire by rolling with a cassette roller, succeeding in making the shape. As the mass-production had progressed, more severe precision of dimensions became necessary, which ended up with request for long continuous length of over 10,000m brought up. As maintenance was required after producing 1,000m with existing cassette roller, we were unable to answer the request for long size without stopping the machine before completion of continuous 10,000m.
Therefore, we developed on our own a cassette roller, succeeding in handling the long length and improving precision of the dimensions. Since then, we received a request for having twists in certain intervals on the wire, which led us to modify the machine. In order to be able to guarantee for scars, tolerance of wire diameter and pitch, we placed a special order for inspection equipment and prepared a production environment that can meet severe demands for quality.
While we produced up to 4 grooves at the beginning of the development, we can now produce up to 8 grooves after continued improvements.
The technology development of the aluminium spacer that supports the high-speed internet society in Japan, has since become the foundation for us to produce such products of our company as special shaped wire for ferrule flange and vertebra for wiper, etc.
What would you activate when you are driving and it rains? Yes, it is a wiper. Wiper is consisted of wiper blade to wipe out the glass surface cleanly, wiper arm to support it, wiper motor to drive the wiper arm, and wiper link to connect the wiper motor with wiper arm. Wiper blade has metal wire built-in to support the rubber that touches the glass surface.
This very metal piece is the vertebra that we can call a compilation of the technology developments of our company.
Automobile parts require high precision as the product standards are extremely severe. While we had a rolling technology based on the aluminium spacer development etc., the most difficult point in this development was to gproduce straight wiresh.
Vertebra is produced by producing flat wire by rolling round wire made by wiredrawing, and then cutting flat wires. As vertebra must have a curved shape to fit the curve of the glass, it is processed into curved shape when it is cut. However, we faced a problem of getting too much loss when cutting because of meandering of the wire during the rolling. In order to suppress the meandering of the wire, we figured out some way on the wiredrawing machine and roller, and further selected the best condition for each production process, enabling us to produce still more-straight wires.
Currently, the vertebra we produce boasts a large market share for domestic makers.
Ferrule flange is an adapter part to connect optical fiber cables each other. While It used to be produced by part manufacturers by way of cutting round wires, it incurred a lot of time and cost in cutting for the grooves. We developed a special shaped wire with grooves by using the technology we had developed in the aluminium spacer. By using our special shaped wire, the cutting for grooves was omitted, leading to a big simplification of the production process and cost reduction at the parts manufacturers.
The development of the special shaped wire for the ferrule flange was based on the production technology of the aluminium spacer. However, all the prototypes made by the production facility for the aluminium spacer failed because of unsatisfied precision of the dimension size. Therefore, we took an approach to first produce up to the product shape, and then make wiredrawing as a finish by drawing by using dies, enabling us to meet the precision of dimensions. And for the problem where twists of metal occurred during cutting for straight wire, we developed a machine with which we succeeded in cutting for straight wire without twists, and further realizing even the mass production. Although we purchased additional equipment as the increased order volume thanks to the IT boom could not be handled by the existing one, orders were cancelled suddenly right after the installation of the new equipment. The IT bubble collapsed unexpectedly. In-process intermediate products turned into scrap as they could not be diverted for other use. As the equipment was exclusively for the ferrule flange, it became idle equipment without operating even once.
However, without getting discouraged too much with it, we continue to polish our technology and work hard to meet the needs of our clients.