Take Fiber Optic Connector Cleaning Seriously

Fiber optics infrastructures have become quite common in a number of markets and applications. In conjunction with this fiber infrastructure are a variety of fiber interconnect solutions. Clean, reliable optical connector are paramount in maintaining the high performance and stability of the whole network. Routinely inspecting and cleaning fiber optic cleaner is very essential for the fiber infrastructure.

Why Should We Attach Importance to Fiber Optic Connector Cleaning?

Fiber optic communications rely on very small fibers to carry beams of light. Most fiber optic cores are between 9 um and 62.5 um in diameter, much thinner than the typical strand of human hair, which is about 90 um in diameter. Because of its small diameter, even the tiniest bit of dust, dirt, oil, or other contaminates can degrade an optical signal. Fiber optic cable contains many fibers and are designed with the knowledge that some fibers will be occluded by dirt or other contaminates at some point. However, most can only afford so much blockage before they become ineffective, resulting in diminished service or even down time for the networks they serve. Slow connections and downtime can be costly for business relying on their fiber optic networks. That’s why keeping connectors clean is so important.

How Does the Fiber Optic Connector Get Contaminated?

Dust and oils are the two most common forms of contamination on fiber connectors and can come from a variety of normal maintenance activities. Oils from your fingers will leave a noticeable defect easily seen with the use of a fiber scope, the oil will also tend to trap dust against the fiber, which can result in scratches on both the fiber connector and the optic it is being mated to. Inserting and removing a fiber tends to create a small static charge on the ends, which can result in the attraction of airborne dust particles. Simply removing and re-inserting a fiber has the possibility of contaminating the end of the connector in a facility that may have a higher level of dust(newly constructed or renovated data center).

Common Methods Used for Fiber Optic Connector Cleaning

There are a variety of methods deployed to clean fiber optic connectors, some more effective than others. Here will introduce two common methods and some cleaning tools.

Dry Cleaning Method

Dry cleaning is a type of cleaning method which does not require the use of any solvent. One-click fiber cleaner, MTP/MPO cleaner, and cassette cleaner are tools using dry cleaning method.

One-Click Fiber Cleaner for LC/SC Connector: One-click fiber cleaner as shown below or fiber cleaning pen is an affordable and effective way to clean LC/SC style optical connectors. Inserting the head into the adapter and pushing until the “click” removes dust by swabbing the fiber. At around $19 for 800 times use, it is a must-have for fiber cleaning. (Note: for pinned connections, a different tool that accommodates the pinned adapter is required.)

One-Click Fiber Cleaner for LCSC Connector

One-Click Fiber Cleaner for MPO/MTP Connector: This type of one-click cleaner is also called as MPO or MTP cleaner as shown below. It comes with a barrel on the end for cleaning both connectors and endpoints. It works in the same way as the reel cleaner with a refillable “tape” used to clean but works on both the fiber and the port allowing for quick and easy cleaning.

One-Click Fiber Cleaner for MPOMTP Connector

Fiber Optic Cassette Cleaner: Dry cleaning without alcohol in palm size housing with cleaning around 500 times for the male connectors only without solvents left and second pollution. The cassette cleaner as shown in the following image can be reused by replacing the cleaning reel/cartridge to reduce the general cost.

Fiber Optic Cassette Cleaner

Wet Cleaning Method

Wet cleaning is another type of cleaning method which requires the use of a solvent such as isopropyl alcohol.

Lint-Free Isopropyl Alcohol Wipes: Gently wiping fiber connectors with these wipes as shown below is the most effective way to remove resistant dust particles, oil or other contamination. When the dust and isoprophyl alcohol make contact, the duct is pulled into the alcohol, and the wipe clears both the dust and liquid from the fiber surface.

Lint-Free Isopropyl Alcohol Wipes

Note: Once a fiber optic connector is cleaned, it’s best to reconnect it immediately or cover it with a cap to ensure it will not get dirty again.

Summary

Keeping fiber connector clean is essential for the reliability of the whole network. We have introduced four types of fiber optic cleaners. Each cleaner has its own features, also you have your own references for fiber cleaning work, more detailed information of the specific cleaner or material, you may turn to FS.COM.

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Work as an English editor at FS.COM, a professional supplier and manufacturer of fiber cables.

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