TOKYO (Nikkei) - Sekisui Chemical Co. will enter the plastic optical fiber business in fiscal 2011, introducing a product 40% more heat-resistant than existing versions. Plastic optical fiber is more flexible and easier to handle than conventional products made of glass, but its susceptibility to heat has been a drawback.
Together with Keio University's Yasuhiro Koike, the company developed a partially chlorinated polymer capable of withstanding temperatures up to 100 C, compared with a maximum of 70 C for plastic products already on the market. Optical fiber made with this polymer can be used for medical equipment, automotive applications and other places subject to high temperatures. Its ability to transmit light is comparable to that of other advanced plastic fibers, according to Sekisui Chemical.
Sales may begin this fiscal year on a trial basis. The optical fiber will be supplied to medical equipment manufacturers and systems integrators in Japan as well as telecommunications firms abroad.
Sekisui Chemical will make the fiber in-house initially, but may consider outsourcing production overseas depending on demand. Sales are targeted at 1 billion yen in the first year.