In today’s hyperconnected world, where data transfer and communication are integral to our daily lives, the demand for high-speed, reliable, and efficient data transmission is greater than ever. Fiber optics technology plays a pivotal role in meeting this demand, and one essential component of fiber optics systems is the fiber optic patch cord.
In this article, we will explore the concept of fiber optic patch cords, their functions, applications, and their significance in modern telecommunications.
The Function of the Fiber Optic Patch Cord
Fiber optic patch cord (also known as fiber optic connectors) refer to optical cables with connector plugs installed on both ends to achieve active connection of the optical path; a plug installed on one end is called a pigtail.
Fiber optic patch cords transmit optical signals, which are typically in the form of light. These optical signals can carry various types of data, including: digital data signals, voice signals, video signals, analog signals, control signals, medical signals, sensor data, midi signals, test and measurement signals etc.
Fiber optic patch cords are also used for the connection between fiber optic distribution frames or fiber optic information sockets and switches, between switches, between switches and computers, and between fiber optic information sockets and computers. It can be applied to the management subsystem, equipment room subsystem, and workspace subsystem.
Common Application of Fiber Optic Patch Cord
Fiber optic patch cords are mainly used in the following fields:
Ensuring high-speed data connections in data centers and enterprise networks.
Linking routers to other network equipment or internet service provider’s optical networks.
Fiber Optic Transceivers
Connecting transceivers to networking gear via patch cords.
Organizing and creating connections between network components.
Servers and Storage Devices
Enabling high-speed data access in data centers.
Distributing optical signals in passive optical networks.
Fiber Optic Transmitters and Receivers
Accurate signal transmission for video and audio applications.
Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Equipment
used in FTTH installations to connect optical network terminals (ONTs) in subscribers’ homes to the optical line terminal (OLT) in the service provider’s central office.
Fiber Optic Testing Equipment
Essential for network maintenance and troubleshooting.
Utilized in various telecom devices like multiplexers and optical amplifiers.
Fiber optic patch cords are the linchpin for seamless optical connectivity in these diverse fields.
The Components of a Fiber Optic Patch Cord
A fiber optic patch cord comprises a fiber optic cable at its core, designed for single-mode or multimode transmission, with connectors (commonly SC, LC, ST, or MTP/MPO) affixed at both ends for easy and secure connections.
The cable is encased in a protective jacket (typically PVC, LSZH, or plenum-rated material) shielding against environmental hazards, while strain relief components and boots reinforce the connector ends, preventing damage from bending and enhancing insertion and removal processes. These integral components collaborate to ensure efficient and dependable optical signal transmission.
Optical fiber in fiber optic patch cord
The Fiber Optic Cable in a fiber optic patch cord consists of several components, each with its corresponding function:
- Core: The core is the central part of the fiber optic cable through which light signals travel. It is typically made of glass or plastic and is responsible for carrying the optical signals from one end of the cable to the other.
- Cladding: Surrounding the core, the cladding is a layer of material with a lower refractive index. It helps to confine the light within the core by reflecting it back into the core whenever it attempts to escape, enabling efficient signal transmission.
- Buffer coating: The buffer coating provides a protective layer around the cladding, safeguarding the delicate core from physical damage, moisture, and other environmental factors. It also helps maintain the cable’s flexibility.
- Strength members: Strength members, often made of materials like aramid fibers (e.g., Kevlar), enhance the cable’s tensile strength and protect it from stretching or breaking during installation and use.
- Outer jacket: The outer jacket is the final layer of the fiber optic cable, serving as an additional protective barrier. It shields the cable from external elements, such as abrasion, chemicals, and UV radiation. The jacket’s composition can vary to suit specific environmental requirements, including materials like PVC, LSZH (Low Smoke Zero Halogen), or plenum-rated materials.
Fiber optic patch cord connectors
Fiber optic patch cords have connectors on both ends, which distinguishes them from pigtails that only have connectors on one end. Fiber optic patch cord connectors are essential elements in fiber optic communication systems. Their primary function is to establish secure and efficient connections between optical devices.
Fiber optic patch cord connectors consist of several components, each with its specific function:
- Connector housing: The main body that holds the ferrule and enables connection to other components or adapters. It is usually made of plastic (or metal in some cases).
- Ferrule: This crucial part secures and aligns the optic fiber. It can be made of various materials like plastic, ceramic, metal, or glass and is cylindrical with a center hole.
- Flange (Optional): It holds the ferrule in place, although not all ferrules require this component.
- Crimp sleeve: Made of lightweight metal, it is compressed using a crimping tool to secure the cable’s strength members to the connector. This provides tensile strength, pullout strength, and strain relief. Some connectors have a built-in crimp sleeve.
- Strain relief boot: Also known as the bend relief boot, it controls side pulls and prevents the fiber from bending too much or twisting. Every connector has this component attached to the backshell to reduce mechanical stresses.
- Spring: Almost all connectors are spring-loaded, ensuring secure pressure against the mated connector.
- Backshell: It allows the fiber to pass through the rear of the connector and provides a platform for the crimp sleeve. In some cases, it is integrated with the flange.
Types of fiber optical cord connectors
Fiber optic cord connectors come in various types, depending on different factors:
- Types of Optical Signals: They can be single-mode or multi-mode connectors for silicon-based optical fibers, or connectors designed for optical fibers that use plastic as the transmission medium.
- Connector Type: Connector types include SC (Subscriber Connector), LC (Lucent Connector), ST (Straight Tip), and MTP/MPO (Multi-Fiber Push-On). ST connectors are typically used on wiring equipment, while SC and MT connectors are commonly used on network equipment.
- Plishing Type: Connectors vary based on the polishing type, such as UPC, PC and APC.
These variations allow for flexibility and compatibility in different network and optical setups. If you want to know more about types of fiber optic patch cord, you can click here.
In addition, it is worth noting that the connectors at both ends of the fiber optic patch cord can be the same or different. For example, common ones are: LC to LC Type, SC to SC Type, LC to SC Type, LC to ST Type, LC to FC Type, FC to FC Type.
This flexibility allows you to connect devices or ports with dissimilar connector types, ensuring seamless data transmission in a wide range of applications. For example, in a data center, you need to connect a network switch with LC connectors to a storage device with SC connectors. To make this connection, you use a fiber optic patch cord with an LC connector at one end and an SC connector at the other end, allowing for seamless compatibility.
LC to SC
Fiber optic patch cords are underpinning high-speed data transmission across diverse applications. With their robust construction, precise engineering, and compatibility with various connector types, they stand as indispensable components of modern fiber optic networks. These cords ensure the seamless flow of information and connectivity that drives our interconnected world.