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Introduction to Fiber Optic Inspection, Cleaning and Testing

As fiber optics are the mainstream of the modern data communication network, the inspection, cleaning and testing of fiber optics are becoming significant for the precision of signal transmission. This article will focus on the fiber optic inspection, cleaning and testing.

Fiber Optic Inspection

With the increasing higher data rates and decreasing small loss budgets, the fiber optic inspection and cleaning are becoming more and more important. Proper inspection and cleaning is the only way to decrease the overall light loss. Contamination and damage are the two types of problems that will cause loss when doing the fiber optic connection with the adapters.

Contamination comes in many forms which can be dust, oils or even the buffer gel. Oil comes from bodies when making a touching with the fiber’s end face. Dust and the small static-charged particles flying in the air can land on the fiber’s exposed termination. Buffer gel and pulling lube can easily find its way onto an end-face during the new installations. Scratching, chipping, pitting or cracking of the fiber optic cable will cause the end-face surface defects which as a result of poor termination or mated contamination.

Portable microscope is used to inspect the fiber optic end-face. Optical and video microscopes can be found in the market today. Optical microscopes incorporate and objective lens and an eyepiece lens which allow you to view the end face directly. Video microscopes, however, have both an optical probe and a display for viewing. The display screens will show the expanded images of the contaminants and damages.

Fiber Optic Cleaning

The most traditional and suboptimal way to clean the fiber optic end-face is blasting the fiber cables with canned air, or using IPA. Fiber optic specialist today have developed series special solvent and cleaning tools which can be found in the fiber optic leaning kits. The special fiber solvent are perfect for dissolving virtually any contaminant on the fiber end-face and have tailored evaporation rates that give them time to work yet disappear before mating. One-push cleaner is one of the most popular cleaning tool for fiber optic connector (see the picture below).

One-push cleaner

Fiber Optic Testing

After the inspection and cleaning of the fiber optics, the next step is to implement the fiber optic testing, which includes the certification and verification of the optical fibers. Fiber optic certification has experienced a development form Tier 1 to Tier 2, which are based on the certification of new cabling per IEEE, TIA, or ISO/IEC standards.

Tier 1 is the basic test regiment which is performed with a power meter and light source or optical loss test set to measure the absolute loss of the link and compare it to the limits of the standards. Tier 2 is the extended Tier 1 testing which bring the application of OTDR testing. By the use of OTDR, it will allow to trace each fiber link. OTDR trace will enable people to certify the quality of the fiber optic splicing, connection, and installation.


Fiber optic inspection, cleaning and testing are essential for accurate data transmission. Using the high-quality fiber testers and tools would be helpful to achieve the purpose. Fiberstore has various fiber optic testers and tools, including the one-push cleaner (pend cleaner), fiber optic microscope, and optical power meter, OTDR, etc. All of these items are of great quality and competitive price. If you are looking for fiber optic testers and tools, Fiberstore would be an excellent option.