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End faces, or dirty fiber connectors, can create various issues ranging from inconsistent performance to damaged equipment. Cleaning the end faces of fiber optic medical equipment is critical to ensuring their reliability and function.
FREMONT, CA: Fiber optics is becoming increasingly popular in the medical field. Healthcare providers are using fiber optic devices to improve patient diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment as the population continues to expand and age. The performance of fiber optic instruments, like that of many medical devices, is dependent on cleanliness. The equipment must function flawlessly. Contamination of the fiber optic termini is one of the most common reasons for fiber optic instrument failure.
Identify and Remove the Contaminant
One of the most challenging aspects of end-face contamination is that it is not visible to the human eye. Therefore, before connecting any fiber-optic equipment, it's best to inspect, clean, and inspect again. Repeat this step until the instrument end faces are entirely free of impurities.
Choose Materials Engineered for Fiber Cleaning
The materials utilized to clean the end faces must be spotless; else, contamination could worsen the situation. It may seem logical to wash the connector's end face with a gown or a cloth, but those products carry a wide range of impurities that could soil the connector under a conventional fiber optic inspection scope. Allowing connections to come into contact with the floor or merely touching the termini with a finger can considerably contaminate them with dust or skin oil. Use fiber optic cleaning products designed exclusively for this purpose to avoid further contamination.
Cleaning Wipes and Sticks
To clean fiber optic end faces properly, there are two options: a specialist wipe for plugs and a swab for sockets. The three primary forms of pollutants found on end faces are particulates, oils, and salts, each of which has its cleaning process.
High-Purity Cleaning Fluid
When cleaning the end faces of fibers, make sure you utilize fiber-cleaning fluids. Aqueous (water-based) cleaning products and pure isopropyl alcohol should be avoided (IPA). Aqueous products take a long time to dry, and moisture can be left on the end faces. Suppose the moisture is not completely removed before the fiber is joined in the sleeve. In that case, the laser-energized fiber can rapidly evaporate the residual liquid into a gas, resulting in an explosion due to the vapors' rapid expansion.
Wet to Dry Cleaning
Wipe and swab applications should both employ high-purity cleaning solutions. Prestaturated cleaning materials, on the other hand, should be avoided. This is because presaturated wipes and swabs frequently contain minute pollutants taken from the plastic container, which might migrate to the end face during the cleaning process, causing additional contamination issues.