Fiber optic cables have quickly taken over the world of high-speed internet. They offer incredible benefits and superior performance over typical copper Ethernet cables, including faster data transmissions, better security, increased bandwidth, and zero interference (EMI).
No wonder homes and businesses everywhere are shifting to fiber optics. Of course, suppose you plan on deploying or shifting to a fiber-optic network for your business. In that case, you should always consult expert professionals like those at Communications Solutions Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida.
If you are already in the market for fiber optic cables, you may have encountered armored fiber optic cables. If these sound confusing, you are not alone. Many people are unaware of such cables, and today we will explain them in some detail.
What Is an Armored Fiber Optic Cable?
As you can probably tell by the name, armored fiber optic cables are fiber optic cables with more protection than a typical fiber optic cable. While added protection makes cables stiffer, armored fiber optic cables are surprisingly flexible.
In fact, there is little to no difference between the flexibility and functionality of an armored fiber optic cable and its unarmored counterpart. The main advantage of an armored fiber optic cable is that it is less prone to damages like moisture, rodents, etc.
In terms of applications, armored fiber optic cables are highly beneficial for the structured cabling of educational institutes, hospitals, data centers, and businesses, among other organizations. They add protection and promote the reliability of the network.
These cables are tougher than typical Fiber optics or Ethernet cables, which allows them to withstand pressure, pinching, crushing, moisture, and rodent bites. At the same time, they are flexible enough for use in tight spaces and durable enough for use in harsh environments.
Armored Vs. Unarmored Fiber Optic Cables
If you compare an armored fiber optic cable with an unarmored one, the key difference is in the outer protective layer of these cables. The material used for armored cables can be metal, polyethylene, Kevlar, glass yarn, fiber yarn, or other tough and protective materials.
The added outer protective layer made from such materials makes armored cables tougher and more durable. While normal, unarmored fiber optic cables are used for typical control systems, armored cables can be used in places exposed to damaging environments.
In addition to the outer protective layer, armored fiber optic cables have several other layers that protect the fiber optics inside. So while an unarmored cable may only have a simple outer jacket and typical inner protective layers, an armored cable may have several protective layers.
The tough outer layer protects from abrasions, twists, and rodents. Next, the Kevlar underneath protects from pressures, pinches, and other tough crushing factors. Underneath the Kevlar, there is a light steel tubing that further helps protect the optical fibers at the core.
The light steel tubing has a helix form or shape that allows it to remain flexible while providing immense protection to the fiber optics at the core of the entire cable. However, this is just an example of a typical armored cable compared to a normal fiber optic cable, and there are various other types of armored cables.
Types of Armored Fiber Optic Cables
The many types of fiber optic cables can be defined by their metal tube type, installation method, or application. Below, we have classified various armored fiber optic cables by these individual factors.
● By Metal Tubes
Two types of armored fiber optic cables are classified by their metal tubes. They can be corrugated armored fiber optic cables or interlock armored fiber optic cables.
Corrugated types are protected by an outer, longitudinal, folded steel tape coating. This protection is typically used for outdoor fiber optic applications, providing superior rodent and mechanical protection.
On the other hand, interlocking armor fiber optic cables have a helical aluminum wrapping under the outer jacket. These cables provide improved crush resistance and ruggedness for indoor and outdoor applications.
While they have separate specialties, both these cables are suitable for installation in high-risk areas, where there may be excessive moisture, gas, dust, oil, or rodent infestation.
● By Installation Methods
We mentioned that armored fiber optic cables have light steel tubing around the fiber optics at the core. Unlike typical unarmored cables, this metal tube makes it difficult to terminate armored fiber optic cables. Hence, there are two types of armored cables by installation methods available in the markets, field-terminated and pre-terminated armored fiber optic cables.
Typically, the former is preferred for outdoor use, and the latter is preferred for indoor use. Field-terminated armored cables are terminated at will, whereas pre-terminated ones are already terminated for direct use.
Moreover, pre-terminated variants offered in the market are usually patch cables or trunk cables. Patch cables connect devices, whereas trunk cables have several legs terminated by connectors at each end.
● By Applications
As you may have guessed, armored fiber optic cables can also be classified by indoor or outdoor applications. Depending on the installation environment, you may use loose-buffered armored cables for outdoor applications and tight-buffered cables for indoor applications.
However, both these types of cables can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications.
Tight-buffered and loose-buffered armored cables for indoor applications provide inner jacket protection via a surrounded spiral-wrapped interlocking metal tap armor. On the other hand, most outdoor applications require a loose-buffered armored cable for operational safety.
There are two types of armor for these outdoor cables: light armor and heavy armor. Light armor offers a protective plastic outer jacket that has the durability and endurance of a stainless steel cable. It is much lighter in weight, making it ideal for semi-harsh environments.
Heavy armored cables are wrapped in a circular wire that prevents fibers from gnawing rodents in burial installations. These are more armored and ideal for harsh environments like burial installations on ocean floors or riverbeds.
Hopefully, you now have a comprehensive understanding of armored fiber optic cables and their types. Of course, the type of armored fiber optic cable you use will depend on your individual business requirements.
Hence, we always recommend you to consult expert professionals like Communications Solutions Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida, for all your business network, structured cabling, and fiber optic needs. They know exactly what you’ll need to meet your business requirements and how to install and maintain it properly.
Most importantly, they can tell you the exact armored cable that will suit your business environment or guide you on unarmored fiber optic cables if your business network doesn’t require armored cabling.
Contact Us today to learn more about armored fiber optic cables, structured cabling solutions, or the best business network and fiber optic solutions in Florida.