Fiber Connectors, there are many types – but what do they do, and what are they for?
Many fiber to fiber connections are permanent and connected together by fusion splicing. Fusion splicing is the practise of precisely aligning two fibers, then heating the end of the glass fibers to about 1600 degrees C and pushing the two fibers together to form a fused joint. This process is carried out using a fusion splicer – a piece of kit that can quickly, automatically, and easily fuse one pair of fibers, or 12 pairs at the same time.
Splicing fibers together in this way, means creating a permanent link which ensures the highest possible network performance. This practice is well suited to long-haul telecommunication networks, where long cable runs, and minimal network losses are essential. However, a permanent link limits the flexibility of a network.
In comparison, fiber connectors are used to terminate the end of an optical fiber. They allow optical fibers to be connected and disconnected quickly and safely, but most importantly, they align fiber cores for light to pass from one optical fiber to the other. Using connectors also allows you to introduce local maintenance and testing, and the possibility of easily reconfiguring, connecting, and disconnecting your network, and also give you the advantage of:
- Easy installation: Connectors can connect and disconnect without special equipment
- Low cost: Fiber connectors are generally made of plastic, metal and ceramic, and no fusion splicing or cleaving equipment required
- Reliability: Connectors can be used, and re-used a number of times, and are often used in assemblies that form part of the 25 year network warranties
- Easy to use: Inspect before you connect, clean if necessary, with image capture video inspection tools and click cleaning equipment
- Low Insertion Loss: Insertion Loss (IL) is the measure of the amount of light that is lost between two fixed points of a cable link or across a connection
- Low Return Loss: Return loss is the amount of light signal that is reflected (or returned) in the direction it was transmitted from and therefore lost from the transmitted light. Using angled physical contact (APC) connectors provides lower return loss compared to physical contact (PC) connectors.
Different fiber connectors have different mechanical and performance properties – let’s look back at some of the connectors that have graced the market over the years:,