Network Communications News (NCN) September 2016 - Page 26

F E AT U R E fibre cleaning Clean up operation Despite warnings that IPA is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ when it comes to cleaning optical fibre, the outdated cleaner is still often used on highly sensitive fibre equipment. Edward Forrest, an expert on the fibre optic industry, looks at the many problems that IPA can cause. I n the world of fibre optics, there only are two truly critical precision cleaning operations. The first is ‘prep’ before fusion splice. The other is ‘end-face cleaning’. Both are essential to deployment of reliable, high capacity networks. But as new and advanced as modern fibre networks might be, most technicians still are cleaning them with the same fluid used in the 1960s: isopropyl alcohol, also called IPA. So here’s the headline: to get the most from an investment in advanced fibre equipment, companies must update their cleaning processes and stop using IPA. Over the last 20 years, the precision cleaning industry has developed high performance products that cost less, are safer to use and perform better than traditional alcohol cleaners. Let’s take a look. Why clean? The basic answer is as simple as a stain on your shirt. In fibre optics, this is not merely a cosmetic issue. Stains and debris on an optical surface will degrade the transmission of the signal. ‘Clean’ directly equates to more reliable transmissions and mechanically stronger splices. Optical fibre must be pristine to transmit reliably and to splice properly. 26 26-28 Cleaning Fibre – Sticklers.indd 26 30/08/2016 10:15