Manually assembling fiber optic pigtails requires operators to work with tiny parts that have submicron tolerances.

Incorrect component assembly causes misalignment of the fiber cables, which greatly reduces the output capacity of the finished connectors. Traditional first pass yields from these manual assembly operations are in the 5 percent to 10 percent range. The results can be costly and time-consuming, especially if operators have to rework or scrap expensive components.

RTS Wright Industries (Nashville, TN), a manufacturer of automation equipment, designed a modular, semiautomatic system for assembling fiber optic pigtails. Operators load precut fiber cable onto a pallet. The next station automatically strips, cleans and cuts the cable ends.

At the third station, the cable is automatically fed into a connector ferrule and glued into place.

At the final station, the completed assembly is sent to an infrared heat cure oven for final epoxy cure.

An EC350 SCARA robot from Epson Factory Automation Robots (Carson, CA) is used for all the material handling operations in station three. The company uses the EC350 because of its compact size and tight repeatability specifications. RTS also uses the RC+ controller’s VB guide feature to help create a customized man-machine interface.

By integrating the robot and controller into the production process, RTS can produce higher first pass yields, which helps create significant savings in both rework and scrap. By using standard industrial components, the overall cost of the system has been reduced. Also, operator performance has improved, because operators can now focus their efforts on tasks that do not have tight tolerances. The modular design concept means that as production demands increase, more cells can be added.

For more information on robots, call 866-734-5676 or visit