Aluminum Interlocking Armor (AIA) vs Stainless-Steel Micro-Armor

March 2022

Ever since the introduction of fiber cables within the market, there were only two methods for protection of the sensitive cables. Those options were Aluminum Interlocking Armor (AIA) or building a physical conduit for the fiber cable to go through. Both have proven to be costly, labor intensive, and inefficient forms of protection considering how much protection is needed when developing infrastructures and data networks. This was until the development of the patented stainless steel Micro-Armor by TiniFiber. This form of protection solved all of the issues surrounding AIA armor and building conduits. This article will provide a breakdown between the two armor types to help you better understand the differences between them.

Aluminum Interlocking Armor (AIA)

AIA armor offers protection that could be described as a metal garden hose that would protect the fiber cable within it. In practice it was a genuine option for protection of fiber, however, it came with many issues such as heavy weight, bulky size, and limited protection from things such as crush proof, severe weather, and rodent bites. Simply put, this armor has a specific interlocking construction to endure harsher treatment than standard non-armored fiber cable. The design eliminates the need for a hard conduit to be built surrounding the wire which meets building requirements for fiber cable installation can still be met when using Aluminum Interlocking Armor. In general, this cable is a better alternative to building a conduit, but doesn’t solve the problem of offering protection from most of the things a fiber cable needs protection from.

What about installation? As previously mentioned, Aluminum Interlocking Armor (AIA) is bulky, heavy, and extremely labor intensive to handle. What is spent in equipment and labor costs for AIA cable installation is sometimes a make or break when it comes to the cost for using the armor. To put it into perspective, a 3,000 ft roll of AIA cable requires a 4 wheel forklift to lift and move. When you add in the actual handling of workers on a job site, the amount of time it takes to work with the armor becomes a whole other factor in the cost for the job to get done. Not to mention the risk of injury in handling the armor as it’s weight and size is enough to seriously hurt someone.

What’s the verdict? Aluminum Interlocking Armor (AIA) were a major step forward in fiber cable protection from building conduits. However, they come with what may arguably be more issues than benefits when it comes to the handling, cost, and lack of protection they offer.

Stainless Steel Micro-Armor

Seeing the need for a better solution to fiber cable protection, TiniFiber, a manufacturer based in Long Island, NY developed and patented the world’s smallest, strongest, and light weight armor for fiber cables. This innovation utilizing woven stainless steel as opposed to aluminum, allowed for a thin armored cable that offered more protection than AIA. The key values of the Micro-Armor are that they solve everything that was missing from AIA cables while offering more benefits. When it comes to protection, the stainless steel Micro-Armor is crush, rodent, and severe weather proof as well as chemical resistant and water resistant. In terms of benefits, stainless steel Micro-Armor is 65% smaller and 75% lighter than AIA cables. To put it into perspective, a 3,000 ft roll of stainless steel Micro-Armor is able to be carried by a single person with one hand whereas the same length of AIA cable requires a 4-wheel forklift to be carried and handled.

What about installation? The key value point with stainless steel Micro-Armor for installation is it’s size and weight. It is nearly comparable to handling fiber cable as it is without any armor. With the lightweight and size, this armor is easily able to be installed, bent, handled, and carried along a job site without breaking a sweat or needing heavy machinery. This allows a significant drop in labor costs, injuries, and turn around time to getting an installation done.

What’s the verdict? TiniFiber’s Stainless Steel Micro-Armor is hands down the superior choice in protection, handling, and cost when it comes to armored fiber cables. Even as a newer innovation, the industry has already recognized the armor for its ingenuity and capabilities offering more reassurance when it comes to choosing it for your next job or network.

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