FOS was built in the late 1970s as a joint venture between Pirelli, the cable and tire maker, and Sirti, a state-owned installer company. In 1983 it began to produce optical fibre using Corning’s Outside Vapor Deposition (OVD) under license.
The OVD process uses a flame to produce silica (which is the most common ingredient in sand and in glass) starting from a liquid. Small particles of silica soot are deposited on a rod rotating in a lathe, creating a white oblong shape called a “soot preform.” At this point, the soot preform has the consistency of powder, and will crumble if touched. After that, the preform is heated to form a solid tube of incredibly pure glass. Then it is inserted into the tall “drawing tower” where it is heated until it melts and drip by drop is formed into fibre, and rolled onto a bobbin. After that, it is sent to quality control testing. Then bobbins go to other Prysmian plants and other customers to be made into cables.
One of the first projects Di Giambattista worked on was to make improvements to lengthen the life of the huge vertical quartz oven used to consolidate the soot preform. The R&D team investigate new solutions to improve the chemical resistance of the oven, testing new materials and reactants.