What is Armored Fiber Optic Cable?

April 2022

Armored fiber optic cable provides a significant amount of protection for fiber optic cable without sacrificing flexibility or performance inside fiber networks. This means being resilient and reliable when exposed to rodents, moisture, and other potentially damaging conditions. Armored fiber cable has become the backbone of educational campuses, corporate and retail buildings, and small to large scale data centers. This article will teach you all you need to know about armored fiber cables.

Basics of an Armored Fiber Cable

Common fiber optic cables are not suited to handle any form of crushing, weathering, or rodent damage, however, armored fiber optic cables are significantly stronger and tougher. When utilized in difficult situations or with little pathway space, they have a lot of flexibility and durability.

Armored fiber optic cable is made up of numerous layers to keep it safe. Rodents, abrasion, and twist are all protected by the plastic outer jacket. Then, between the optic fibers and the outer jacket, a light steel tube provides better protection for the fibers in the center. The steel tube is covered with Kevlar, which is inserted inside the outer jacket. The illustration below depicts the fundamental structure of armored cable, which may vary depending on the application.

Metal Armor Types

According to the metal tube, armored fiber optic cable may be split into two types: Aluminum interlock armored (AIA) fiber cable and stainless steel micro-armor cable. Interlocking armor is a helically coiled aluminum armor utilized in both indoor and outdoor cables that provides protection against weather but is not crush-proof or rodent proof making it a risk to use on job sites with heavy equipment and machinery as well as congested ceilings. Stainless Steel Micro-armor is a coated stainless steel strip that is wrapped longitudinally around the cable and provides added mechanical, crush resistance, weather-proofing, and rodent protection.

Classification According to the Method of Installation

As previously stated, the armored fiber cable contains a solid metal armored tube. As a result, terminating armored fiber optic cables is no more challenging than terminating regular fiber optic cables. Many installers choose pre-terminated armored fiber cables for indoor applications due to ease of installation and time savings. Field-terminated armored fiber cables perform better in some outdoor applications.

The market primarily offers armored fiber patch cable and armored fiber trunk cable: the former is stronger and more flexible than regular fiber patch cable, whereas the latter is a length of armored fiber cable with many legs on each end finished with fiber optic connectors.

Armored fiber cable can be utilized for both indoor and outdoor plant (OSP) applications, according to the application. Tight-buffered armored cable and loose-buffered armored cable are commonly used in different installation environments: Both loose-buffered and tight-buffered armored fiber cable can be used indoors and outdoors, however, loose-buffered armored fiber cable is more commonly utilized outside.

Installation Guide for Armored Fiber Cable

Armored fiber optic cable is designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the outdoors while also being able to be routed within. Despite the multiple advantages of armored fiber cable, bonding and grounding the wire is inconvenient. Perform the following procedures wisely to address any problems that may arise during the installation.

  • Bend the armored wire about 10 inches from its end and squeeze it with your hand until the armor coils separate. If you can’t accomplish it by hand, use pliers or another means of cutting.
  • Twist the armored cable on each side of the cut, twisting until the split-apart armor coil pops out and away from the wires. If you can’t do it by hand, use two pairs of pliers.
  • Cut Exposed Coil—Cut the exposed coil of sheathing with side cutters. To open and make the cut, you may need to grip the coil with the side cutters and work it back and forth.
  • Cut the Wires—Slide back the sheathing and cut through the wires if you’re trimming a piece to length. Otherwise, remove the waste piece and discard it.
  • Cut off any sharp points of sheathing with side cutters to remove any excess. Remove any paper or thin plastic pieces from the package.

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