SAO PAULO, BRAZIL — The use of plastic optic fibers in the automotive industry is on the verge of taking off, said Antonio Cesar Rosati, the engineer responsible for POF applications at Delphi Packard Electric Systems Division in SÃo Paulo.
``The growing demand of electronic devices [in vehicles], such as digital CD player systems, navigation systems and vehicle radar on board, is making the application of this technology increasingly more important and competitive,'' Rosati said during a seminar at the Society of Automotive Engineers' Brazil congress, held Oct. 27-29 in SÃo Paulo.
In 1998, POF will be used in all BMW models to transmit digital sound signals for compact-disc players, and the fiber already has been specified for lighting systems of sophisticated cars, like the 2001 model-year Blazer from General Motors Corp., he said.
GM and Mercedes-Benz AG are considering using more POF in 2001 model-year cars, Rosati said.
``In Brazil, some GM projects also consider incorporating the material as of 2002, which puts Delphi in South America on standby to start working on this soon,'' he said.
POF is ``immune to electromagnetic interference and its application is less expensive than the use of glass optic fibers or coaxial cables,'' he said.
POF is made of extruded acrylic, jacketed with polytetrafluoroethylene or polyethylene. It cannot transmit optical data as accurately over long distances as glass fiber, but its fracture resistance is superior, making it capable of being bent within the confined spaces of an automobile.
One hurdle POF needs to overcome is its maximum temperature resistance, which is limited to 185° F, while average engine temperatures run around 302° F.
``POF may be used in integrated control units located in the passenger compartment, but not in its connections under the hood,'' Rosati said.