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NO.1 World Market Share

"Optical Fiber Fusion Splicer" Development Story

Phase.1 Foresight

Now, we boast the top share in the world market. Fujikura's fusion splicer business maintains a position that could be called the de facto standard. In the beginning, however, we faced a series of hardships.

The initial fusion splicer was for multi-mode optical fibers having a thick diameter core (50μ) and was easily connected. The shift to the L optical fiber for a single mode (core diameter of 10μor less) started in 1980. This was the time when the true hardships began.

Fujikura's "Optical Fiber Fusion Splicer," now widely used in countries all over the world, truly lives up to its name as the global standard. The needs for more sophisticated optical fibers and higher quality connection require further technological development, and thus their possibilities as targets of business are expanding. The current fusion splicer business of Fujikura involves distributors as strategic partners in 60 countries around the world, and has an established and carefully-crafted sales & after-service network. In addition, the Company maintains a position as a top manufacturer by constantly reinforcing its unrivaled research & development system, manufacturing lines with extreme cost performance, and its sales operation system that supports marketing strategies. Fujikura promotes a dynamic business aimed at the global market based on the integrated action between our development, manufacturing and sales workforces. The fusion splicer business is thriving and now showing overwhelming strength but this was not without a period of continual hardships in the initial stage of the development project.

To start with, when the optical fiber-based transmitter first appeared, it seemed like a dreamlike transmitter with such advantages as being light, able to transmit a large volume and with less waste to reach further. However, there was a critical problem. That is the difficulty in connecting optical fibers to one another. Fujikura, however, found a business opportunity in this very issue. "The solution to this problem would be big business!" was what initially motivated research & development. Indeed, the idea was wonderful, but it was not so easy to materialize. We started research activities with only three members. It was 1976.

The first splicer
The first splicer "FR-1" to be developed
The development of optical fibers per se at that time was still in the course of trial and error, and in addition to unstable structure and a lack of strength, we had no analytic approach to measure transmission loss. A succession of wearisome experiments ensued. There was uncertainty about the future. At times, we just couldn't see how we would ever achieve a breakthrough. Not surprisingly, there was mounting frustration. It was the next year that we finally saw a glimmer of hope when the structure of original optical fibers became more stable with considerably increased strength. Experiments were carried out using two approaches: the "V groove method"-a method to place an optical fiber on the precise V groove, apply drops of matching oil and press; and the "Fusion splicing method"-a method to place optical fiber in midair and heat-seal it by arc discharging. Owing to its superior properties and workability, the development soon became the "Fusion splicing method." Consequently, the first model of the practical multi-mode fusion splicer was complete in October 1977. Later, in 1979, this equipment was sent to an exhibition attached to the Optical Symposium in Washington D.C. It was just a small space in a corner of the exhibition hall, but our exhibition was noticeable by the crowds of visitors in front of our booth. Back then, there was no demand for what we had created and we were unable to make it a profitable business. This event, however, marked our world debut and later brought us to progress and to creating an epoch-making technology that has led Fujikura win the No.1 share in the world market.

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