Cleaning. Not exactly a hot, cutting edge topic – right? But, dirty connector end faces may very well be the biggest cause of failures in the field for fiber optic links today. This is a topic that many people in the industry spend a lot of time on – much of it behind the scenes. Companies continue to produce new cleaning products, update their cleaning procedures and invest in equipment to inspect connectors before installation.
Face it, in the case of a fiber optic link, cleanliness may indeed be next to Godliness! There was a webinar last month where US Conec presented some interesting information about end face dirt and cleaning tools for connectors. We have heard of users rejecting product before doing loss testing because their initial test is a pass/fail visual inspection – probably more often failing from dirt than real scratches and marks. The FOA has a “Tech Topic” page devoted to this, along with links to more information. Corning posted a youtube video all about cleaning the end of a ferrule – and it is over 5 minutes long. Cisco has a document on their website entitled “Inspection and Cleaning Procedures for Fiber-Optic Connections” and it takes hitting my ‘page down’ button 33 times to get to the end. Now that is a lot of cleaning information!
US Conec has recently introduced new connector cleaners – adding to their popular IBC Cleaners line. New units for cleaning duplex LCs, MTRJ, all single fiber connectors as well as TFOCA connectors. These can be used to clean connectors before mating and when already loaded into adapters.
In the end, this is an important topic and not something that should be an after-thought for anyone dealing with fiber connectors. Whether you terminate connectors, write specs for them, install them or use them in any way – make sure you have planned a way to clean them and everyone who handles them understands the importance of doing so. This means doing something every time you have to mate a connector pair. It’s important.
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