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LOW RESOLUTION FIBER OPTIC LIGHT
This application is a continuation of application Ser. 5 No. 07/025,961, filed Mar. 16, 1987.
This application is a continuation-in-part of prior copending application Ser. No. 575,816, filed 1, 1984, now U.S. Pat. No. 4,650,280, entitled Fiber Optic Light Transfer Device, Modular Assembly and Method of 10 Making.
The present invention relates generally to novel and improved fiber optic light transfer devices and more 15 particularly to a fiber optic display screen with varying resolution capabilities.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The prior art fiber optical light or image transfer 20 devices in general have been relatively complicated to manufacture, cumbersome, space consuming and economically prohibitive for widespread commercial use. The prior art has recognized the need for accurately locating and aligning each fiber in an array but the 25 relatively small size of each fiber and the brittleness thereof make this difficult.
Hicks U.S. Pat. No. 3,043,910 describes the use of relatively thin, flat spacer strips inclined at an angle to the lengthwise extent of the fibers. Such strips do not 30 accurately locate and/or hold the fibers in precise location to one another in each of the three planes that are perpendicular to one another. The particular problem that is not solved by Hicks is the tendency for one ribbon to skew, squirrel or twist relative to the other rib- 35 bons along the length of the fibers.
Glenn's U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,116,739 and 4,208,096 attempt to solve the problem of accurate alignment and location of the fibers in relation to one another by using a spirally wound construction. This approach, how- 40 ever, also does not accurately locate and hold the fibers in the three mutually perpendicular planes.
Further deficiency in the above discussed prior art is the lack of a satisfactory construction for expanding a basic light transfer unit to larger size units without sacri- 45 ficing the resolution.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In accordance with the present invention there is provided a light transfer device for image transfer pur- 50 poses and the like including an optical fiber locator body having a multiplicity of parallel internal slots. Each slot has first and second fiber supporting surfaces disposed in first and second mutually perpendicular planes, respectively. First and second supporting sur- 55 faces of a reference slot locate a reference end fiber that extends perpendicular to a third plane, which is perpendicular to the other two planes. The first and second supporting surfaces of further slots locate further end fibers at equally spaced intervals and in the first plane 60 and locate further fiber ribbons in planes parallel to the reference second plane to precisely locate the fibers in relation to the reference fiber and, when adhered to the associated supporting surface, hold the fibers against relative movement in three planes that are perpendicu- 65 lar to one another. The located fibers are cut along a plane that is rotated 90° to the reference plane and at a slight angle to the rotated plane to define an end surface
of cut fiber ends. Preferably a locator body is provided at each end of the fibers to maintain the relative positions of each fiber in relation to one another. The method of making involves supporting intermediate portions of the fibers in a block with the slots of a block made up of a plurality of stacked channel-shaped locator members that is cut on a diagonal to form two identical light transfer devices that will stack side by side and end to end to form a modular assembly.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The details of this invention will be described in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a light transfer device embodying features of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of the upper left corner of the device shown in FIG. 1 with a portion of one fiber ribbon removed;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view illustrating a preferred method of making the device of FIG. 1 with the second locator members omitted;
FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the assembly of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a sectional view taken along lines 5—5 of FIG. 3 with a portion of the fiber ribbon removed from the open slot;
FIG. 5A is an alternate embodiment of the assembly of FIG. 5 wherein a low resolution fiber optic light transfer device is produced by using a plurality of selectively-spaced projections in each slot of the locator body;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of the locator body shown in FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a portion of a solid locator body:
FIG. 8 is a side elevation view of the locator body with only portions of the fiber ribbon shown in place;
FIG. 9 is a side elevation view of the opposite side of the locator body;
FIG. 10 is an end elevation view of the wide end of two of the image transfer devices that are separated before being brought together in a modular assembly;
FIG. 11 is a modular assembly of four of the eight transfer devices shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 12 is a fragmentary plan view of the central portion of the modular assembly shown in FIG. 11; and
FIG. 12A is a fragmentary plan view of a portion of the modular assembly shown in FIG. 11 in the low resolution embodiment of the invention.
Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a light transfer device 11 according to the present invention including a plurality of optical fibers 12 forming an end surface 13 at one end and end surface 14 at the opposite end. In general, light will travel through light transfer device 11 and pass into either end surface in either direction (bi-directional) so that the end surfaces 13 and 14 are alternately a viewing surface or a light projecting surface.
The optical fibers 12 have adjacent end portions supported by a locator body 21. Body 21 is generally wedge-shaped and is formed with a multiplicity of interior parallel slots 22 extending therethrough with longitudinally facing openings at the ends, the slot to the far right as seen in FIG. 1 being open and the remaining slots being closed and all of the slots being of an identical size in transverse cross section.
The locator body 21, generally stated, has fiber supporting surfaces provided by slots 22 which precisely locate the optical fibers in relation to one another and, when adhered to these supporting surfaces, mechanically hold the fibers 12 in a fixed position relative to one 5 another.
For the purpose of further defining the fiber supporting surfaces and their positions relative to one another, reference is made to FIG. 5 and to the use of a Cartesian coordinate system with an X, Y, Z axis located on the 10 upper left corner of the open slot, as seen in FIG. 5, which is selected as the reference slot and designated 22R. By definition the axes X, Y, and Z of a Cartesian coordinate system are perpendicular to one another, as are the three planes XZ, YZ, and YX defined by these 15 axes. The suffix "R" is used to distinguish the reference slot and the surfaces forming this slot from the further slots and to designate the fibers carried in the reference slot. FIGS. 3-5 show the preferred structure that is used to form two identical light transfer devices, as is de- 20 scribed hereinafter.
The reference slot 22R related to the coordinate system in FIG. 5 has a first reference supporting surface 24R in the YZ plane for a reference end fiber 12R and a second reference surface 25R in the XZ plane for the 25 reference end fiber 12R. These surfaces 24R and 25R locate the reference end fiber 12R along the YZ and XZ planes, respectively, and perpendicular to the YX plane.
Each additional slot 22 in body 21, then, has what is referred to as a first supporting surface 24 in the YZ 30 plane and a second supporting surface 25 in a second plane parallel to and displaced a fixed distance from the reference second plane.
These first and second supporting surfaces locate the fibers and, when adhered to the fibers, mechanically 35 hold the fibers against movement relative to one another in three mutually perpendicular planes, which prevents the plurality of spaced fiber ribbons from being skewed or squirreled at an angle along the lengths thereof. 40
A preferred method of making the above described locator body is to use a plurality of identical generally channel-shaped locator members 31 stacked one on another, as shown in FIGS. 3-6.
Each locator member 31 has a spacer portion 32 and 45 stepped out projecting portions 33 and 34, at the opposite ends of the spacer portion, together with stepped in notched portions 43 and 54 opposite projecting portions 43 and 54 opposite projecting portions 33 and 34, respectively. For reference purposes the spacer portion 50 32 has oppositely disposed surfaces 25 and 45, projecting portion 33 has surfaces 24 and 38 at right angles to one another, projecting portion 34 has surfaces 44 and 48 at right angles to one another, notched portion 43 has surfaces 36 and 37 at right angles to one another, and 55 notched portion 54 has surfaces 46 and 47 at right angles to one another. The notched portions 43 and 54 are complementary in shape with projections 33 and 34 but are not as deep as the projections so that, when the notched portions 43 and 54 are placed on the projecting 60 portions of another locator member 31 in a nesting or stacked relation, the spacing for slot 22 is formed. It will be noted that surfaces 24 and 37 are in the same plane and surfaces 44 and 47 are in the same plane.
Referring now to FIG. 3, the ends of each locator 65 member are shown tapered or V-shaped, as indicated at 39, so that there are no sharp corners or right angle bends for the relatively brittle fibers.
In a preferred procedure for making the device 11 using the channel-shaped locator member as above discussed, an adhesive is placed along the inside of the channel of one member 31 and a fiber ribbon 26 is placed on the inside surfaces with the end fibers of the ribbon abutting against adjacent inside surfaces 24 and 44 to hold the ribbon in place. Preferably, the channel defined by surfaces 24 and 44 is the same width as the fiber ribbon.
The adhesive is placed on the top of the ribbon so disposed in the channel and on surfaces 48 and 38. A second locator member 31 is placed on the first with the spacer portion surfaces 37 and 47 inserting into the channel surfaces 24 and 44, respectively, the spacer portion surface 45 pressing down on the top of the fiber ribbon. Succeeding locator members 31 and fiber ribbons are stacked one on the other until the desired stack is achieved. The depth of the stack establishes the lateral extent of the body 21, as seen in FIG. 1.
The fibers 12 secured in the assembled channelshaped locator member 31 are then cut down through the stack, as shown in FIG. 3, along a plane designated 49 that is rotated 90° to the plane of the fiber ribbon or XZ plane and at a slight angle, designated A, to the rotated plane to define the end surface 13 with the cut fiber ends.
This method of making provides two identical light transfer devices 11. A sharp angle A provides greater surface area. A preferred angle A is between 8° and 10° to the axis of the fibers.
The opposite end portions of the fibers 12 preferably are supported in the same manner, using a locator body 51 with interior slots 52, again shown as made up of a plurality of channel-shaped locator members 61 stacked one on another in the same manner as are locator members 31 above described. These channel-shaped members preferably have the same channel width as the ribbon but decrease in thickness along their length to bring the fibers to a solid bundle having a uniform array of rows and columns at the end surface 14.
An alternative to the stacked channel-shaped locator members above described would be to form a unitary rectangular block 61 and to use a cutting tool such as a laser to form the reference slot 22R and slots 22 for a ribbon of fibers, as is illustrated in FIG. 6. An adhesive would be placed on the ribbon and the ribbon of fibers would be slid through the longitudinally facing openings of the slots.
The support body 21 above described is particularly suitable for being stacked side by side and end to end to enlarge the end surfaces as required. A modular assembly of two of the devices which form end surfaces 13 side by side and two more end to end is shown in FIG. 11. The two side by side are shown separated in FIG. 10 but when brought together the projecting portion 33 and ribbon portion 26 along one side mate with the notched portion 43 and surface 45 of the adjacent device to provide uniformity in the succession of the fiber ribbon 26 and spacer portion 32 between the two devices.
A pin 57 extends through aligned holes in the projecting portion 33 of the bodies 21 to position these bodies and hold them side by side.
For stacking end to end an angular cut 71 is provided along projecting section 33 at the narrow end to allow the ribbons to pass along the back side of the modular array, as shown in FIG. 12. In the end to end stacking of the devices forming end surfaces 13 the ribbons line