5 Best Practices for Certifying Next Generation Networks: Cleaning and Inspection

This blog is part of a series: Intro | Cleaning and Inspection | Encircled Flux

It’s no secret that the leading cause of optical network failures is contamination of connector ends. It is also something installers can easily prevent by properly cleaning all fiber end faces before mating to networks. Proper cleaning minimizes damage to connectors and equipment, helps provide accurate loss measurements and ensures the network will operate properly.

The core size in an optical fiber is quite small. A single-mode fiber is only 8 to 10 microns in diameter, and the most popular multimode fibers have core sizes of only 50 microns. It does not take much dirt to contaminate the end face, jeopardize the quality of the connector and limit the capabilities of your network. Mechanical or dry cleaning of the fiber end face is often sufficient, but in some cases, in order to prevent signal degradation, a wet clean with a suitable optical connector cleaner may be required.

A digital fiber inspection probe enables a user to look at connector ends for contamination and damage such as dirt, oil, scratches and epoxy under magnification. It is important to do this because dirt can be transferred from a contaminated connector to a clean connector (i.e. “cross-contamination”) and may even cause scratches or damage to the clean connector. All connectors—even new jumpers with a factory finish—should be cleaned prior to mating to prevent dirt moving from one connector to another. Connector contamination as small as 0.001 mm can cause high loss and poor reflectance. As a result, many end user customers have developed and require compliance to fiber end face cleaning standards.

Be sure to clean, inspect and document all fibers and connections and limit opportunities for contamination by minimizing the number of connections required.

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