The selection of fiber optic connectors and FO cable termination strategy depends on the application, cost considerations and your own personal preferences. The following connector comparisons can make the decision easier if you really want to go for best option.
Epoxy & Polish Style Fiber Optic Connectors
Epoxy & polish style connectors were the original fiber optic connectors. They still represent the largest segment of connectors, in both quantity used and variety available. Practically every style of connector is available including ST, SC, FC, LC, D4, SMA, MU, and MTRJ. Advantages of epoxy and polish style connectors include:
- This connector style is based on tried and true technology, and can withstand the greatest environmental and mechanical stress when compared to the other connector technologies.
- This style of connector accepts the widest assortment of cable jacket diameters. Most connectors of this group have versions to fit onto 900um buffered fiber, and up to 3.0mm jacketed fiber.
- Versions are. available that hold from 1 to 24 fibers in a single connector.
There is an initial setup time for the field technician who must prepare a workstation with polishing equipment and an epoxy-curing oven. The termination time for one connector is about 25 minutes due to the time needed to heat cure the epoxy. Average time per connector in a large batch can be as low as 5 or 6 minutes. Faster curing epoxies such as anaerobic epoxy can reduce the installation time, but fast cure epoxies are not suitable for all FO connectors.
These type of fiber optic connectors, while not difficult to install, do require the most supervised skills training, especially for polishing. They are best suited for the high-volume installer or assembly house with a trained and stable work force.
Least expensive connectors to purchase, in many cases being 30 to 50 percent cheaper than other termination style connectors. However, economic factor increases due to the cost of epoxy curing and ferrule polishing equipment, and their associated consumables.
Pre-Loaded Epoxy or No-Epoxy & Polish Connectors
There are two main categories of no-epoxy & polish connectors. The first are fiber optic connectors that are pre-loaded with a measured amount of epoxy. These connectors reduce the skill level needed to install a connector but they don’t significantly reduce the time or equipment needed.
The second category of connectors uses no epoxy at all. Usually they use an internal crimp mechanism to stabilize the fiber. These connectors reduce both the skill level needed and installation time. ST, SC, and FC connector styles are available.
Advantages of pre-loaded epoxy fiber connectors include:
• Epoxy injection is not required.
• No scraped connectors due to epoxy over-fill.
• Reduced equipment requirements for some versions.
Both versions have short setup time, with pre-loaded epoxy fiber optic connectors having a slightly longer setup. Due to curing time, the pre-loaded epoxy connectors require the same amount of installation time as standard connectors, 25 minutes for 1 connector, 5-6 minutes average for a batch. Connectors that use the internal crimp method install in 2 minutes or less.
Skill requirements are reduced because the crimp mechanism is easier to master than using epoxy. They provide maximum flexibility with one technology and a balance between skill and cost.
Moderately more expensive to purchase than a standard connector. Equipment cost is equal to or less than that of standard connectors. Consumable cost is reduced to polish film and cleaning supplies. Cost benefits derive from reduced training requirements and fast installation time.
No-Epoxy & No-Polish Fiber Optic Connectors
Easiest and fastest connectors to install; well suited for contractors who cannot cost-justify the training and supervision required for standard connectors. Good solution for fast field restorations. ST, SC, FC, LC, and MTRJ connector styles are available. Advantages include:
• No setup time required.
• Lowest installation time per connector.
• Limited training required.
• Little or no consumables costs.
Installation Time: Almost zero. Its less than 1 minute regardless of number of fiber optic connectors.
Skill level: Requires minimal training, making this type of connector ideal for FO installation companies with a high turnover rate of installers and/or that do limited amounts of optical-fiber terminations.
Lower Labor Costs: Generally the most expensive style connector to purchase, since some of the labor (polishing) is done in the factory. Also, one or two fairly expensive installation tools may be required. However, it may still be less expensive on a cost-per-installed-connector basis due to lower labor cost.