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Some problems that you may encounter that will cause
reduction or loss of an optical signal:


Dirt- contamination from dust in the air, contact with benchtop, clothing, etc, and cross-contamination from the mating connector.

Oils- from fingers, wipes, air, and cross-contamination from the mating connector.

Spotting- from allowing an alcohol- cleaned (or other solvent) fiber or connector to air dry, allowing humidity to absorb into the solvent during evaporation and causing the spotting.


Scratches- due to contact with other surfaces, improper or incomplete cleaning, and cross-contamination from the mating connector.

Pitting- damage to the end face of the connector due to particle contamination and laser burn. Particles will become trapped between mating connectors and create an air space btween the mating cores. Also, hot plugging optical connectors can cause the laser burn pitting. Pitting is most often with higher power lasers (over 30mW, seen more often with 90mW and higher).

Chips- due to contact with other surfaces or contamination. If the connector is not protected when unplugged or stored, it may come in contact with other hard surfaces, causing a chip. Because connectors and fiber are fragile, it does not take a large impact to cause chips. Chips will also occur because of contamination between mating fiber connectors.


There has to be a compromise or trade-off sometimes when it comes to selcting a product. Quality and cost are important factors in this selection. But "you get what you pay for" is the phrase to remember. Cost reduction is negotiated through quantity purchases where higher quality is necessary. Quality problems will be seen in many areas:

Materials used... connector (metal, plastic, keys, tolerances), adhesive, fiber.

Connectors' manufacture quality- The materials used may be of good quality but the manufacturing process puts out inferior product, with flaws in the surface finishing and dimensional tolerances such as diameters, widths, and centering.

Fiber and core ecentricity- The core of the fiber chosen may not be centered or is incnsistently centered over the lengths of the fiber. This will cause a mismatch of the cores when connectorized.

Assembly- Problems can occur because of poor assembly, assembly materials, and procedures. The stripping and cleaning of the fiber may not have been done well. The wrong adhesive may be used or the injection of the adhesive was done wrong. Curing of the adhesive may be done improperly. And improper polishing could result in a bad finish. Any step done wrong in the termination process can result in a lower quality connector and fiber jumper which will be bad or fail prematurely.

Bad or poor quality splice- Also in the assembly process, problems may be due to improper splicing procedures, splice characterization, or a combination of any contamination present during splicing.

Improperly selected components- Even selecting higher quality components may cause a problem if the proper type was not designed in or chosen. Wrong size keying and wrong connector types are two such problems. Research before selection to get the best performance for your application. Ask: What type connector- SC, FC, LC, etc.? Do you need flat or angled connectors? What material is used for the adapter sleeve? Should you choose plastic or metal housing? What width keying? Does the key width of the connectors match with the adapters? These are just some of the many factors that come in to play when selecting components.