How to Choose a Fiber Optic Tool Kit

:: Fiber Optic Tool Kits, What Kind Do You Need?

Fiber optic tool kit is a very big category including tools for finishing a variety of jobs in fiber optic industry. So before looking further, please ask yourself: what do I want to do using this tool kit?

There are kits available for traditional epoxy and polishing connector termination, quick connector termination, fusion splicing, mechanical splicing, optic cleaning, fiber optic testing, and many more.

So let’s take a quick look at each type and their functions.

1) Traditional Epoxy and Polish Connector Termination Tool Kit

This type of kit sometimes is also called universal connectorization epoxy tool kit. They include all the tools necessary for hand-polishing termination of epoxy optic connectors such as FC, SC, ST, LC, etc. The following list shows all essentials items that should be included.

a) Fiber cable jacket stripper to remove outer jacket from optical cables

b) Fiber stripper to remove fiber coatings (900um tight buffer or 250um UV coating layer) to expose the bare fiber cladding

c) Kevlar scissors to cut the yellow strength member inside fiber jacket

d) Fiber connector crimp tool for FC, SC, ST, LC

e) Fiber scribe tool to scribe the bare fiber

f) Epoxy for fixing the fiber inside the connector, empty syringes for epoxy dispensing into the connector

g) Glass polish plate so you can place rubber polish pad on top of it

h) Rubber polish pad so you can place the lapping films on top of it

i) Lapping films (several grits included, typically 12um, 3um, 1um and 0.5um)

j) Connector hand polish pucks for FC, SC, ST, LC

k) Inspection microscope so you can inspect the quality of your work

l) Heat cure oven to cure the epoxy (either 220V or 110V)

m) Other misc. items for cleaning such as Kimwipes, Isopropyl alcohol, etc.

2) Quick Termination Connector Tool Kit

90% of quick termination connectors don’t require polishing. They have a factory pre-polished fiber stub inside the connector body, all you need to do is strip your fiber, clean, cleave the fiber and then insert the cleaved fiber into the connector body, with or without assembly tool assistance, then finally crimp the connector with specialized tool.

There is no universal quick termination connector tool kit, since each connector is designed differently by their manufacturers and requires proprietary assembly tool. The major brands in the market include:

a) 3M Hot Melt connectors

Although 3M Hot Melt connectors are categorized as quick termination, they actually require polishing. The connectors have hot melt epoxy pre-injected in the body, you just heat the connector, insert your fiber, scribe it, let it cool down, and then polish the connector. The process is very similar to traditional epoxy polish connectors, but the epoxy mixing and dispensing steps are removed which reduces termination time to less than 2 minutes. 3M Hot Melt connectors are a popular choice among installers.

b) Corning Unicam Connectors

Corning Unicam connectors are typical pre-polish and mechanical splice on connectors. They have a pre-polished fiber stub inside connector body, with index matching gel inside too. You just strip, clean and cleave your fiber, and then insert the cleaved fiber into the connector body, finally crimp it on with Unicam assembly tool.

They are also very popular among fiber optic installers and contractors.

c) Tyco/AMP LightCrimp Plus connectors

AMP LightCrimp Plus connectors are similar to Corning Unicam. They also pre-polished and mechanical splice on, although designed differently and needs corresponding LightCrimp plus assembly tool. They are less popular than Unicam connectors.

d) There are also many new types of quick termination connectors from AFL, Leviton, Fitel and other manufacturers. So it is worth keeping a close eye on this technology.

3) Fusion Splicing Tool Kit

The next major type of fiber optic tool kits are for fiber fusion splicing.

Fusion splicing is simpler than fiber connector termination. So they require less tools but the tools are sometimes pretty expensive, especially the high precision fiber cleavers. The following list shows the essential items in fusion splicing tool kits.

a) Fiber cable jacket stripper to remove outer jacket from optical cables

b) Fiber stripper to remove fiber coatings (900um tight buffer or 250um UV coating layer) to expose the bare fiber cladding

c) Kevlar scissors to cut the yellow strength member inside fiber jacket

d) High precision fiber cleaver (this is the most expensive item)

e) Fusion splice protection sleeves

f) Fiber disposal unit to dispose the scrap fibers

g) Other misc. items for cleaning such as Kimwipes, Isopropyl alcohol, etc.

h) Optional visual fault locator to visually check the quality of your splicing

4) Optical Cleaning Tool Kit

Fiber optic cleaning tool kit is pretty simple since they don’t include tools but just some cleaning supplies. They mostly include:

a) Canned air (optic grade)

b) 2.5mm foam swabs for cleaning FC, SC, ST connectors, mating sleeves and adapters

C) 1.25mm foam swabs for cleaning LC and MU connectors, mating sleeves and adapters

d) Lint free Kimwipes

e) Pre-soaped alcohol wipes

f) Fiber connector reel cleaners for FC, SC, ST, LC, MTRJ, etc.

g) Isopropyl alcohols

Since cleaning tool kits usually include alcohol, in most times, they are ground shipment only.

5) Fiber Optic Testing Tool Kit

Basic fiber optic testing usually only involves insertion loss testing, visual fault location, and optional return loss testing.

You can buy fiber testing kit with or without fiber stripping and cleaving tools. The most essential items are actually the light source, power meter, and optional visual fault locator. You can always get fiber stripper, cable jacket stripper, etc from tools kits you may already own, such as an universal epoxy connector termination tool kit.

Fiber optic patch cables, power meter adapters should also be included in the kit to facilitate testing of different connectors, such as FC, SC, ST, LC, MU, etc.



Source by Colin Yao

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