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Introduction

Optical fiber terminations need to be done carefully in order to have


low loss and minimal reflectance, therefore constant practice is
mandatory to achieve perfection. This E-book is created for optical fiber
apprentices eager to exercise and improve their techniques.
Part I details the steps to be followed to do a permanent joint
using a mechanical splice, Part II explains how to do a connectorization
and Part III describes the way polishing needs to be done.
This processes might be used with both multimode and single-mode optical
fiber and with other connectors besides ST.
Always remember to use safety goggles to avoid optical fiber
fragments to get into your eyes. Lets start practicing!
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PART I

MECHANICAL

SPLICING

Is the process of precisely aligning two fiber optics together using an alignment device
and index matching gel, with refractive index similar to the fibers and covers possible
air gaps, helping light travel from one fiber to another with minimal loss and little
back reflection.
However, they are still two separate optical fibers, which is why this method is considered temporary and is mostly use to rapidly restore short-haul single mode or
multimode cables in FTTH installations.

How to do it?
Mechanical splicing is easy to do if you have all the tools you need, as it only takes three steps to be done. It requires:

A fiber optic stripper
A cleaver
Kimwipes
Isopropyl alcohol
The mechanical splice device of your need

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STEP #1

STEP #2

STEP #3

The first thing you have to do is strip


the fibers, taking away the coats, buffers and protective layers, leaving the
optical fibers naked. Then, clean the
fiber using an optic clean wipe with
isopropyl alcohol.

Now its time to cleave the fiber.


You have to do this following your
cleavers instructions. And clean
the fiber using an optic clean wipe
moisturized with isopropyl alcohol.

Place the cleaved ends of the fibers


together into the mechanical splice
device. Now light will travel from one
fiber to another thanks to the index
matching gel. And your fiber splicing
is done!
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Constantly clean your tools:


Particles that you might consider
invisible can cause great damages on
fiber optics. So getting obsessed with
cleaning is never a problem.
Invest in a good quality cleaver:
If you want to check the signal loss,
you could use a Visual Fault Locator, an
inexpensive small device that shoots
red laser light into the patch cords
and makes high loss points visible.
This method works great with yellow
coated single mode and orange coated
multimode fibers.
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Cleaving is the most important step


when splicing because a bad cleaves
can increase signal loss. Economic
cleavers generally need more practice
and skills to achieve the appropriate
cleave angle, so if you regularly do
mechanical splices buy a cleaver that
is generally used in fusion splices.

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PART III

Connectorization is the process of adding a connector at the end of an optical fiber cable so it can be temporary joined with another cable or connected to network equipment such as receivers, transmitters or patch panels and be quickly
disconnected when required. Optical fiber connectors guarantee that fibers are
properly aligned, ensuring steady connections.

FIBER OPTIC

CONNECTORIZATION

ST, SC, FC and LC connectors can be terminated with similar processes for both
multimode and single mode fiber.

How to do it?
Before starting, make sure you have all the tools youll need and organize them in a comfortable way for you to work. The tools are:
The fiber to be terminated
Fiber optic scribe

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The fiber optic connector of your need

Kevlar cutting scissors

Alcohol pads

Epoxy

Stripper

STEP #1

STEP #2

Slide the strain-relief boot onto the


end of the fiber cable, followed by
the crimp sleeve. You can use a piece
of tape to keep them in place.

Use the ruler and the marker to measure and mark 1.3 inches from the end
of the fiber and proceed to remove
that amount of jacket
using your
stripping tool. Now cut the
aramid
threads using the Kevlar scissors,
but be careful to preserve between
0.20 or 0.40 inches of them.

Epoxy syringe

Ruler

Marker

Crimp tool
Kimwipes

Mark 0.60 inches on the buffer (measuring from the end of the jacket)
and continue to use the stripper to
remove the exceeding buffer. You
might want to do this by cutting the
buffer in three sections to avoid
scratching the optical fiber. Use a
Kimwipe moisturized with isopropyl
alcohol to carefully clean the bare
fiber, removing any buffer leftovers.
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STEP #3

STEP #4

STEP #5

Put the epoxy into the syringe


and remove air bubbles. Place the
needle as far as it can go into the
connector and push the plunger
until you see epoxy coming out the
ferrule top, being careful not to let
any epoxy come out the bottom.

Gently push the optical fiber into


the connector and carefully rotate
the connector back and forth until
its back reaches the Kevlar threads
and the jacket end. You really need
to do this gently in order to avoid
scratching the fiber.

Bring the crimp sleeve to the back of


the connector. Use the proper crimp
tool to crimp the part of the sleeve
that covers the connector body and
the one that covers the jacket. Slide
up the boot so its shelters the connector body. And it is done!

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Fast terminations:
Now its time to wait for the epoxy
to cure and start polishing. But what
if you dont have time to wait overnight? You are probably thinking you
can use a fast room temperature
cured epoxy or put the connectors
in an oven to accelerate the process.
And what happens if you have to do
a really quick termination to replace
a few damaged connectors at the
field or in a premises network?
Edward A.Y. Fisher, Application Engineering Manager, says there are two
kind of adhesives you can use in this
cases: cyanoacrylates and anaerobics.

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Cyanoacrylates Adhesives: Fisher


assures they are used in optical fibers although they dont adhere well
to glass. The recommendation is to
use these instants adhesives in connectors that can later be replaced for
epoxy cured connectors.
If you are using a cyanoacrylate
adhesive, replace Step 3 and do this:
Inject the adhesive into the connector, place the cable inside and spray
the tip of the ferrule with an accelerator. The curing process will be done
between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
Anaerobic adhesives: These are substances that harden when they are
set in the ferrule due to the absence
of air. Resistance to extreme envi-

ronments is not as great as epoxys.


When working with an anaerobic
adhesive, replace Step 3 by injecting the adhesive into the ferrule,
dip the bare fiber in the accelerator
bottle and insert it into the connector. It will cure in about 1 minute.
FOA
recommends using
the adhesive Loctite 648 and the accelerators Loctite 7471 or 7649.
Before deciding if working with
adhesives instead of epoxies, keep in
mind that epoxy terminated connectors have a better performance and
reliability. FOA advises to use epoxy
because it makes polishing easier
since the hardened epoxy at the ferrule tip protects the fiber from getting scratched.

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PART III

FIBER OPTIC

POLISHING

Polishing is the process that follows connectorization and consists on cleaving


and rubbing the protruding fiber to create a smooth surface, in order to avoid
high loss and reflectance. It needs to be done carefully to not damage or break
the optical fiber.
Singlemode optical fiber polishing needs to be done more carefully than multimode due to the difference between the diameters of the cores, which makes
tiny scratches worst on singlemode connectors. Singlemode fibers are polished
with diamond films, while multimode with alumina films.

How to do it?
It is recommended to work on a dark
mat .....because it helps you see the
fiber. Remember
.....to organize your
work place in a comfortable .....way before starting. Youll need:

Optical fiber scribe

Fiber polishing plate

Rubber polishing pad

5m, 3m and 1m lapping films


for ceramic ferrules

The polishing puck that suits


your connector

Lint-free wipes

Distilled water

Isopropyl alcohol

Compressed air

200X Microscope

*Keep in mind that although some of these steps are repetitious it


is necessary to follow all of them to get a proper polish.

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STEP #1

STEP #2

Hold the connector, grab the scribe


and score the fiber above the
epoxy bead without using too much
pressure. Use your thumb and forefinger to grab the fiber and pull it up
and away. Put the fiber in a disposal unit. Use an eye loupe to look at
the cleaved end of the fiber. A cleave
is considered optimal if just a fiber diameter of fiber protrudes the
epoxy drop.

Air polish the protruding fiber with


the 5m lapping film. Grab the
connector steady and gently rub the
lapping film back and forth against it
for about 20 seconds, until the fiber
is leveled with the epoxy bead.Clean
the glass polishing plate with a lintfree wipe humidified with isopropyl
alcohol.

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STEP #3

STEP #4

STEP #5

Clean the bottom of the polishing


puck and the connector ferrule with
a lint-free wipe moisturized with isopropyl alcohol and dry it with canned
air. Insert the connector into the
polishing puck while holding both
of them on the air. Do not place the
polishing put on the rubber pad when
inserting the connector because you
could break the optical fiber.

Put the 5m lapping film on the


rubber pad and gently place the
assembled polishing puck on the
film, taking care not to scratch the fiber. Before following this step, make
sure the surfaces of the plate and the
rubber pad are properly cleaned. If
not, clean them with a lint-free cloth
moisturized with isopropyl alcohol.

Start rubbing the fiber against it in


a figure eight pattern without using
too much pressure, until the surface smooths. The 5m film can be
reused for 8 to 10 connectors. Once
you
finish polishing, remove the
5m film.

STEP #6

STEP #7

STEP #8

Clean the rubber pad and the shiny


face of the 3m lapping film using a
lint-free wipe moisturized with isopropyl alcohol. Put the 3m lapping
film on the rubber pad with the shiny
face down.

Clean the rubber pad and the shiny


face of the 1m lapping film using a
lint-free wipe moisturized with isopropyl alcohol. Put the 1m lapping
film on the rubber pad with the shiny
face down.

Add two drops of distilled water on


the 3m lapping film, softly place the
connector on it and start polishing
the fiber in a figure 8 pattern without
using too much pressure, moving the
puck to the dry part of the film.

Place two drops of distilled water on the 1m film, gently put the
connector on it and lightly applying
pressure.

Remove the connector from the


polishing puck and clean it using a
lint-free wipe soaked with isopropyl
alcohol. Use the microscope to check
if the fiber is leveled with the tip of
the ferrule and if it has any scores. If
it is the case, repeat Step 6 and Step
7.

About 10 to 15 figures eight should be


made to get a proper polish.

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Start polishing the fiber in a figure 8


pattern, moving the puck to the dry
part of the film. About 10 to 15 figures
eight should be made to get a proper
polish. Check the ferrule with a 200X
magnification microscope.

According to the Fiber Optic


Association a properly polished fiber requires from four to five figures
eight.

You need to check that:


* The ferrule endface is free of epoxy.
* The fiber is a the same level with
the end of the ferrule.
* The fiber core has no heavy
scracthes on it.
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Recommendations:
* If you are doing terminations in the
field, be sure that your workspace is
as clean as possible and practically
dust free.
* Dont apply excessive of pressure
when air-polishing and polishing
because it could break the fiber.
* Be extremely careful when cleaving the optical fiber with the scribe.
A bad cleave could shatter the fiber.
* Make sure your lapping films arent
worn out. Excessively used lapping
films could damage the entire polishing process.

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Editor: Marialmi Rodrguez


Co-Editor: Johann Toirac
Photography and design: Nichott Len
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