Fiber Networks — Where Does All the Dust Come From?
Dust is a real problem with fiber optics. It’s granular in nature and resists compression. It often is opaque and completely blocks the optical signal. Getting rid of the dust is a top priority. There are two basic sources of dust-based contamination: “wear debris” and “environmental.” 1. Wear Debris The most common source is wear … Continued
What’s Wrong with IPA Alcohol for Cleaning Fiber? It Was the Bell Labs Standard for Decades
We apologize in advance for this long answer, but this is a key mis-understanding that deserves serious consideration. In the world of fiber optics, there only are two truly critical cleaning operations. The first is “prepping” before fusion splicing. The other is “end-face cleaning.” Both are essential to deployment of reliable, high-capacity networks. But as … Continued
Can I Use “Reagent Grade” High Purity IPA to Clean My Fiber?
Some companies buy the purest IPA they can get, which is called “reagent grade” IPA. They use this to try to solve the fiber cleaning problem. But I believe that the purchase of 99.9% “reagent grade IPA” is a waste of money and effort. Here’s the ‘little secret’ about reagent-grade IPA: since it is the … Continued
Can’t Use IPA — So What Else Is There? What Can I Use to Clean My Fiber Networks?
Fiber optics need fast, consistent and reliable cleaning for optimal operation. The selection of a cleaning fluid is a complex trade-off of many attributes: cost, storage, handling, purity, actual cleaning ability, drying time and worker safety to name a few. Modern, nonflammable fluids are the best choice to ensure a clean surface that is optimized … Continued
Saving Money — Can I Re-Use My Cleaning Wipes?
It’s laudable to try to control costs and protect the environment, but re-using lint-free wipes is a false economy. In fact, it creates a network nightmare because everything becomes cross-contaminated. You can’t clean with a dirty wipe. Let’s suppose a company provides a large, high-quality 9×9 inch (23x23cm) wipe for their techs. That wipe becomes … Continued
What’s the Best Way to Clean Ports, Down Inside Alignment Sleeves?
Cleaning inside the alignment sleeve is one of the most challenging cleaning tasks in industry today, and yet it must be performed quickly, consistently and reliably for the fiber network to operate to its rated specifications. To clean inside an alignment sleeve, you should use a clean-room grade optical swab or a push-to-clean cleaning tool. … Continued
Cleaning Jumpers and Exposed End-faces — What’s the Best Way?
The fiber end-face should be inspected with a fiberscope of at least 80-200x magnification, and if it is contaminated, it should be cleaned using wet-dry cleaning. With the wet-dry cleaning method, an optical quality cleaning cloth and fluid are used. When using this method, dampen the cleaning cloth with the Sticklers® Fiber Optic Splice and … Continued
How to Use Fiber Optic Duster “Canned Air” to Clean Connectors and Ports?
No, this is not a recommended practice. It’s OK to use an aerosol fiber optic duster, sometimes called an “air duster” or “canned air”, to clean keyboards and blow dust out of racks, but don’t use it on end-faces. A dry aerosol blast will not remove wet liquid contamination such as fingerprint oils. It does … Continued
How Can Better Cleaning Help My Optical Power Budget?
Absolutely. A signal loss budget or “optical power budget” can be a victim of either poor cleaning tools or poor technique. A few minutes with your OTDR will demonstrate that clean connectors improve (reduce) signal losses, particularly in respect to insertion loss and back reflection. WDM networks also enjoy reduced chromatic aberration. All this enables … Continued
Swabs or Clickers — Which Is Better, and When?
One of the most common questions we get is asking for guidance upon when to use a mechanical clicker and when should a tech should use a stick to clean. That’s a great question. Here’s the short answer: clickers get you fast cleaning, but sticks get you better cleaning. Which is the right choice? It … Continued