Use FiberViewer microscopes to ensure fiber terminations are smooth and clean. Avoid the #1cause of cause of fiber link failure: dirty end-faces.
Dirt, dust and other contaminants are the enemy of high-speed data transmission over optical fiber. Today's network applications require more bandwidth, making loss budgets tighter than ever. It is critical that all optical connections are clean and free of contaminants to ensure application success.
When damage is observed upon inspecting an end-face, it must be determined what needs to be done, if anything. Some damage may be minor enough to ignore while other problems require complete re-termination.
Solution: Visually determine if chips are within acceptable limits, up to 5% of the outside edge of the fiber cladding generally may be chipped, as this is a common result of the polishing process. Any chips on the fiber core are not acceptable. If chips are beyond acceptable limits, the fiber should be re-terminated.
Scratched and epoxy bleed fiber end-face?
Solution: If the end-face is scratched, has polishing debris or has excess epoxy bleed, then repolish it with fine lapping paper until visual inspection shows scratches and debris gone.
Cracked or shattered fiber end-face?
Solution: If the end-face is cracked or shattered, then re-terminate the fiber. Cracks can spread, making the end-face unacceptable.
Once contamination has been discovered using a fiber microscope, it is crucial that it be properly removed to avoid creating more problems. Proper cleaning products and procedures are a requirement as improper processes are not only ineffective, but also potentially damaging.
Effective fiber optic end-face cleaning involves two key components: specialized solvent and wipes or swabs. Fiber optic solvent is required to dissolve certain contaminants and to act as a lubricant so that debris does not scratch the end-face as it is removed. Do not use isopropyl alcohol (IPA) as this chemical can leave a residue as it dries. Kits offered by Fluke Networks contain everything needed for precision cleaning of end-faces on connectors and inside ports.
After cleaning, always inspect the end-face again before insertion to guarantee all contaminants were removed. If necessary, repeat your cleaning steps to remove any lingering soils not removed by the first cycle.
Fluke Networks’ fiber microscopes will allow you to avoid the most common problem with fiber networks. In a survey commissioned by Fluke Networks, dirty end-faces were found to be the #1 cause of fiber link failure. It is estimated that 85% of fiber failures are due to end-face contamination. So it is imperative to inspect and, if necessary, clean end-faces every time they are mated.
It is equally important to inspect and clean both sides of any connection as contamination can migrate from one end-face to another upon insertion. In addition, do not wait until you experience a problem to first clean. Dirt or debris crushed between two end-faces in a mating can cause permanent damage such as cracks, scratches or pits that require re-termination, not just cleaning.