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How to Clean Fiber Optic Connectors?

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As we know, fiber optic connectors are essential components in iber optic networks. They are terminated at one end or both ends of a fiber optic cable, enabling a quick and efficient connection between fiber optic equipment. To make sure a fiber optic jumper cable, such as LC to LC cable, SC to LC cable, or SC to SC patch cord, can function well, fiber optic connector cleaning becomes one of the most important thing in the process of fiber optic system maintenance, which is required to keep quality connections between fiber optic equipment. How to clean a fiber optic connector? This post will provide you with some basic knowledge about fiber optic connector cleaning.

Introduction

Fiber optic connector consists of fiber optic plug and the adapter. The ends of a fiber optic cable are held in the core of the ferrule in the plug. Keeping the fiber end face and ferrule absolutely clean is very essential, since any particles such as dust, oil or lint on the end face of the fiber will disrupt the light transmission trough the fiber and lead to the incompleteness of optical signals for the component or the entire system. For example, for proper performance of the SC SC fiber patch cord, you must keep the SC connector clean and free of dust. Small micro-deposit of oil and dust in the canal of the connector could cause loss of light, signal power loss and possible intermittent problems with the optical connections.

Notes for Cleaning
  • 1. Before cleaning fiber optic connectors, make sure to disconnect the fiber optic jumper cables from both ends and then turn off the laser source.
  • 2. Do not make the end of the fiber optic cable to contact with any surface including your fingers.
  • 3. Never to bend the fiber optic cable, which will in turn cause internal breaks along the fiber and cause poor performance or instability.
  • 4. Use the finger cots or powder free surgical gloves to handle fiber optic cables.
  • 5. Use fresh spectroscopic grade methanol or isopropyl alcohol as the cleaning solvent.
  • 6. In the daily connection work, a connector housing should be used when plugging or unplugging a fiber, and a protective cap should be used to cover the unplugged fiber optic connectors.
  • 7. During the process of a fiber optic connector cleaning, the end face of the connector should never be touched and the clean area of a tissue of swab should not be touched or reused.
Cleaning Procedure

At the beginning of the cleaning job, a fiber microscope should be used to inspect the fiber end. If the fiber end is contaminated as the following image shows, it should be cleaned, and the cleaning procedures are:

fiber contamination

  • 1. Blow the fiber surface with a stream of Clean Dry Air (the so called CDA), which will dislodge larger, loose particles. Keep in mind, don't tip the can of the CDA while blowing, because the liquid may be released contaminant on the surface of the fiber.
  • 2. Place 1-3 drops of spectroscopic grade methanol or isopropyl alcohol in the center of a lens tissue. Do not use acetone as a cleaning solvent on the fiber optic surfaces. Besides, to ensure the purity of the methanol or alcohol, you should never insert the lens tissue or swabs into the liguid.
  • 3. Hold the fiber by the connector. Place the wet portion of the lens tissue on the optical surface and slowly drag it across. Don't use lens paper to dry it because the dry lens paper is extremely abrasive.
  • 4. Examine the surface of the fiber under high density light using a magnifier, an optical loop, or a video inspection tool. If streaks or contaminants still remain, repeat the process using a fresh lens tissue.
  • 5. Immediately install a protective cover over the end of the cable to avoid re-contamination or insert the fiber for immediate use.
Conclusion

Fiber optic connector cleaning process is a very necessary and critical process. A fiber optic connector should be properly cleaned and maintained to ensure optimum reliability and system performance. It is not just important to have the proper tools for the job, but also know when to use them and how to use them. Fiber optic cleaning kit such as the Cletop Reel Type cleaner, Cartridge-Type cleaner, OAM connector cleaners are all good solutions, all of which you can get from Fiberstore. Just follow the instructions for each cleaning kit you will use.

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