Some Basic Knowledge of Plastic Fiber Cables

Plastic fiber cables have the highest attenuation over short distances, but thet come at the lowest cost. A plastic fiber optic cable has a plastic core and plastic cladding. It is also quite thick, with typical core/cladding diameters of 480/500, 735/750, and 980/1000 u. The core generally consists of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) coated with a fluropolymer. Plastic fiber optic cables are used in small optical devices, lighting applciations, automobiles, music systems, and other electronic systems. The cables are also used in communication systems where high bandwidth or low loss are not a concern. The increased interest in plastic optic fiber is due to two reasons: (1) the higher attenuation relative to glass, which may not be a serious obstacle with the short cable runs often required in premise networks; and (2) the cost advantage, which appeals to network architects faced with budget decisions. Plastic Optical Fiber Cable do, however, have a problem with flammability. Because of this, they are run through a plenum. Otherwise, plastic fiber is considered extremely rugged, with a tight bend radius and the ability to withstand mechanical stress.

Plastic clad silica (PCS) fiber optic cable has an attenuation-and cost-that lie between those of glass and plastic. Plastic clad silica (PCS) has a glass core that is often made of vitreous silica; the cladding is often plastic, ususally a silicone elastomer with a lower refractive index. In 1984, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC´╝ëstandardized PCS fiber optic cable to have the following dimensions: a core of 200 u, a silicone elastomer cladding 380 of microns, and a jacket of 600 u.

Plastic fiber cables are fabricated using the same principles as glass fiber cables. A core with a higher index of refraction is surrounded by a cladding with a lower index of refraction. The cladding is then coated with a coloured jacket for coding purpsoes; glass and plastic cables are similary colour coded. POF cables are available in single- and multi-step index, as well as graded index.

Recent developments in the polymer industry have led to improvements in plastic fiber optic cables, Plastic fiber cables will envetually replace glass fiber cables because of their many advantages, including their ease in connection using epoxy as well as their lower price, durability, lower weight, and smaller bending radii.

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