Cleerline Fiber FAQ


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Cleerline SSF™ Basics

Fiber Preparation

Cleaver Questions

Testing Connection


Fiber Type and Installation


Cleerline SSF™ Basics

Is Cleerline SSF™ fiber actually glass?

Yes. Cleerline SSF™ fiber utilizes a glass core surrounded by a glass cladding. Our optical fibers are made in a similar fashion to all traditional and bend insensitive fiber optic glass on the market. However, Cleerline fibers incorporate an additional polymer coating at the glass level.  This provides additional protective benefits. Cleerline SSF™ fibers are Stronger, Safer, and Faster to terminate than traditional optical fibers.

How is the glass protected on a Cleerline SSF™ fiber?

SSF™ integral proprietary polymeric coating, included within the 125 µm diameter of the optical fiber, protects the glass.  This coating is very hard, like glass, but more durable.  It eliminates the need for a typical plastic “buffer” (common to traditional fiber), which must be removed before termination. SSF™ polymer coating also provides additional benefits:

  • Protects the glass fiber – the polymer prevents the glass from being directly exposed to the elements.
  • Provides increased bend insensitivity.
  • Increased safety factor when working with/terminating the fiber – polymer prevents glass shards
  • Provides increased speed and efficiency in termination.

Are Cleerline SSF™ fibers compatible with the system I’m installing?

Yes. SSF™ fibers meet or exceed the standard industry performance requirements and specifications of traditional glass fibers within their particular types/categories. Cleerline fibers exceed bend tolerance, durability, tensile strength, and many other specifications when compared to traditional glass fibers.

The system I’m installing today does not utilize fiber. Should I install fiber anyway?

Yes. Fiber is not just the next horizon for connectivity.  The switch to fiber is happening right now. With the demand for data, communication, and video content transmission increasing exponentially, all systems will soon require fiber.

How long does it take to terminate Cleerline fiber?

It is possible to terminate Cleerline SSF™ in less than one minute with SSF™ mechanical splice connectors!  Depending on the connector system in use, times may vary. At Cleerline, we are constantly refining the process to minimize the time and expertise required.

What are the key advantages of SSF™ fiber for my installers?

Stronger— Cleerline SSF™ fibers are stronger and more durable than traditional glass fibers. With up to 10,000 times the bend capability and up to 200 times the pull strength of traditional fibers, Cleerline fibers provide reliability and ease-of-use.

Safer— Cleerline’s unique design makes the fiber more flexible and very difficult to break. The fiber’s coating prevents glass shards, making Cleerline fiber a safer, friendlier product to handle for the technician.

Faster— With Cleerline SSF™, the termination process is greatly simplified. The reduced steps result in up to 80% labor savings and reduced tooling costs. Cleerline fibers simplify the process of fiber optic termination.

Can I use Cleerline SSF™ fiber to build Toslink cables?

No. Toslink cables are a Toshiba optical audio cable and send signal via an LED light source. The cables, and optical audio cables in general, are composed of a plastic optical fiber, which is much larger than a 50/125 µm glass fiber.  As a result, these cables can only be cut in a larger factory. Looking for an optical audio cable? Cleerline Technology Group’s Planet Waves CI brand also supplies optical audio cables.

Fiber Preparation

Can I polish SSF™ fiber?

Cleerline SSF™ can be polished if required.  However, as Cleerline’s integral polymer is part of the glass fiber, the fiber preparation process requires additional steps. Please contact us for more information. In most cases, we recommend the use of SSF™ in applications that take advantage of the benefits of the polymer coating.

How do I remove the colored SSF™ “Soft Peel” coating?

The colored SSF™ 250 micron soft peel coating can be easily removed with your fingertips/fingernails. Do not use fiber optic strippers. Lightly scraping on the coating with your fingers/fingernails will easily remove the soft peel. Ensure the removal is complete by running your fingers down all sides of the fiber. Keep in mind that even with the soft peel removed, the glass is still protected and encased by the integral Cleerline SSF™ polymer.

Can I use fiber optic strippers to remove “Soft Peel?”

The use of fiber optic strippers is not needed, nor is it recommended to remove the colored Soft Peel coating.  The 250 micron soft peel coating can be easily removed with your fingertips/nails.  Utilizing fiber strippers can be detrimental to the SSF™ polymer coating, which remains present on the glass.

How much “Soft Peel” do I remove?

Cleerline’s colored “Soft Peel” 250 micron coating can be used for measurement purposes (much like traditional fiber’s 900 micron buffer) in place of a 250 µm hard acrylate buffer. Soft Peel can also be removed if it is not needed. The amount of soft peel to remove is typically determined by the connection system you are installing (just like with traditional fiber). Even with the Soft Peel coating removed, SSF™ polymer remains present at the glass level.

Cleerline has simplified the termination process by evaluating the pre-polished connector systems on the market.  We provide simplified instructions for terminating some of the most common connectors available.

Do I need to clean Cleerline SSF™ fibers with alcohol?

If desired, Cleerline fiber can be prepped with alcohol, but this is not necessary for termination with mechanical splice connectors.  Cleerline SSF™ polymer coating remains present at the glass level, protecting the glass.

Cleaning with alcohol is required for traditional fiber termination.  The buffer coating on traditional fiber must be stripped and removed to expose the bare glass fiber. In doing so, typically a residue remains from the buffer.  Since the glass is exposed to the elements, this residue and any contaminates must be removed to protect the fiber from long term defects.  With Cleerline SSF™ optical fibers, the polymer coating protects the glass from external contamination.

Cleaver Questions

How do I cleave Cleerline SSF™ fiber?

You can cleave Cleerline SSF™ fiber like any other glass fiber.  We recommend the use of a precision wheel cleaver.  Due to the increased strength, bend, and durability of Cleerline fiber you might find that your cleaver needs to be adjusted to cleave or “score” the Cleerline fiber correctly.  A wheel height adjustment may be required and is a simple 5–10 minute one-time process.

Cleavers included in Cleerline SSF™ termination kits are factory-adjusted to properly cleave Cleerline SSF™ fibers.  Please contact us prior to making any blade height adjustments to cleavers included with SSF™ fiber termination kits.

What does a cleaver do?

Fiber optic cleavers “score” the glass and break the fiber at a pre-determined angle. As with all glass, this process is not 100% precise and can cause fractures. Fiber optic cleavers are designed to reduce fracturing in the glass strand and to produce fiber end faces that allow for proper signal transfer.

Many varieties of cleavers are on the market today. Precision wheel cleavers typically produce a higher quality and more consistent cleaves.

What cleaver should I use?

We recommend precision wheel cleavers, such as the ones included with our fiber termination kits. Cleavers include within SSF™ termination kits are factory-adjusted for use with SSF™ fiber.

There are many different methods of cleaving. The most sophisticated cleavers use precise tension to stabilize the glass during the process or include laser cutting devices.

Higher quality cleavers, like precision wheel cleavers, typically utilize a carbide-coated blade to “score” the glass during the cleaving process.  These types of cleavers typically cleave at a high service rate, producing a consistent fiber end-face. Other cleaver types include “score and snap.” While often very inexpensive, “score and snap” cleavers are less precise. “Score and snap” cleavers use a carbide “tooth” and tension provided by the user pulling on the glass to break it or “cleave.”

If purchasing a cleaver separately for use with SSF™ fiber, ensure the cleaver is an adjustable precision wheel model.  Some cleavers require a blade height adjustment to properly “score” and cleave SSF™ glass fiber with its integral polymer coating. Blade height adjustments can also be performed in the field and typically take approximately 5–10 minutes to perform.

Please contact us prior to making any blade height adjustments to cleavers included with SSF™ fiber termination kits.

How do I verify cleave quality?

Evaluate cleave quality with a cleave inspection microscope. This allows the user to view the quality of the cleave prior to insertion into the connector.  When using high quality precision wheel cleavers, this step is typically not necessary as the quality of cleave is highly repeatable. Cleavers that utilize a “score and snap” approach can produce consistent cleaves, but having an inspection microscope can be beneficial for these types of cleavers.

My cleaver is not working/not cleaving Cleerline fiber.

Please contact us for assistance with cleavers included in Cleerline SSF™ termination kits.  Cleavers included with SSF™ fiber termination kits have been factory adjusted to cleave SSF™ fiber correctly.

Cleerline SSF™ polymer coating is as hard as glass and has a number of different properties that strengthen the glass fiber.  Some cleavers that cleave standard 125 µm fiber without an issue may need to be adjusted for use with the stronger, more durable Cleerline fiber.

The fix is relatively simple for most wheel type cleavers. With precision wheel cleavers, it is an easy blade height adjustment procedure. Please refer to the instructions provided with your cleaver, refer to the instructional video, or contact Cleerline Technology Group for more information. For most precision wheel cleavers, adjustment is a simple 5–10 minute process.

Testing Connection

How do I verify my connection?

The easiest and simplest way to verify your connection is by using a Visual Fault Locator or VFL.  All Cleerline SSF™ fiber termination kits include a VFL.

Note that a VFL may show light in situations where signal loss is too high for functional transmission. Troubleshooting at this point will require testing equipment. Certifying a network to industry standards also requires fiber optic testing equipment.

A light source and power meter are the most common form of verification for measuring insertion loss. For longer connections/higher volume installations, test equipment such as an OTDR may be used.

The type of installation and the equipment installed dictate testing requirements.

What type of tester or verification equipment can I use?

As with all traditional optic equipment, test Cleerline fibers per industry standards utilizing optical light sources, power meters, and OTDR’s. In most cases a VFL can verify that a connection has been successfully made.

Dependent on the installation, the link budget (or loss budget, determined by measuring the total loss of all connectors, cable, and installed patch cables) may be such that additional tools and testers may be required.  Cleerline offers two models of optical testing kits for additional measurement.

What is the industry standard for acceptable mechanical splice connector loss in decibels (dB)?

According to the EIA/TIA 568 standard for mechanical splice connectors, the acceptable loss is 0.75 dB per connector.

How do I use the SSF-TKITP-400 or SSF-TKITE-100 testing kit?

Please refer to the instructional materials available on the SSF-TKITP-400 or SSF-TKITE-100 product pages.


What type of connector should I use?

Cleerline SSF™ fibers are compatible with all common “quick connect” mechanical splice connectors, referred to as “no polish” type. Cleerline SSF™ mechanical splice connectors are available in LC and SC styles. 

SSF™ fibers are compatible with all common connector systems for 50/125 µm multimode of 9/125 µm single mode fibers. Multimode fibers require multimode connectors. Single mode fibers require single mode connectors.

Instructions for terminating SSF™ fiber with other common connector brands are available in our Resources section.

Do I need LC or SC connectors?  What style of connector do I need?

The electronics in use determine connector type.  Most SFP modules, for example, accept 2 LC connectors. 

Single mode fiber requires single mode connectors.  Multimode fiber requires multimode connectors.

For more information, refer to our article on choosing fiber optic connectors.

Can I install Cleerline SSF™ connectors on non-Cleerline (traditional) fibers?

Yes.  Traditional fibers require additional preparation steps in order to remove any acrylate and/or buffer coatings.  Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the fiber you are terminating. 

For instructions, refer to our instructional documents.

What is an index matching gel connector (mechanical splice-type connector)?

A mechanical splice connector joins two fibers via a sleeve filled with index-matching gel and an optical ferrule.  A plastic or metal connector houses these components. The gel fills the gap between the optical ferrule and the cleaved fiber inserted for termination.

The “joining” of the fiber and the ferrule completes the connection or termination.  Gelled mechanical splices are cost-effective and easy to install.  In severe environments, the mechanical pliability and sealant qualities of a gel help ensure reliable long-life service.

The refractive index of an optical gel is engineered to match the refractive index of the fiber (or other transparent materials in electro-optical devices), virtually eliminating the large differential optical impedance between the air in the gap and the signal-carrying light. Signal reflection is minimized.

Over their 25 to 30 years in existence, mechanical splice connectors have improved dramatically. The connectors, gels, and ferrules utilized have all been refined. Misconceptions exist today regarding their reliability and performance. The use of mechanical splice connectors in the USA lags behind that of other countries that have deployed fiber optic cabling at a substantially higher rate. In Japan and South Korea, mechanical splice connectors have been deployed extensively in telecom and data centers. This trend is continuing around the world.

Can I re-use my connectors?

Cleerline SSF™ mechanical splice connectors may be re-used between 3-5 times.  For best operation, we recommend minimal reuse.

Epoxy-style crimp-on fittings are not reusable.

Will Cleerline SSF™ fiber work with my connectors?

Cleerline SSF™ fibers are compatible with all common connector systems for 50/125 µm multimode of 9/125 µm single mode fibers.  Multimode fibers (50/125 µm) are only compatible with multimode connectors.  Single mode fibers (9/125 µm) are only compatible with single mode connectors.

Cleerline does not supply any connectors compatible with OM1 fiber (62.5/125 µm).

Are Cleerline connectors and fiber compatible with SFP modules?

Yes, Cleerline connectors are compatible with SFP (small form-factor pluggable) modules. Most frequently, SFP modules require 2 strands of fiber with LC connectors.

Fiber Type

What is the difference between multimode and single mode fiber?

Multimode fiber (50/125 µm) has a core size of 50 microns within a cladding of 125µm.  Single mode fiber (9/125 µm) has a 9 µm core within a 125 µm cladding. 

In most situations, distance requirements determine fiber type.  Multimode fiber, due to modal dispersion, is suitable for shorter distance transmissions (up to about 1000 ft/300 meters for OM3).  The larger core means that multimode fiber offers a greater margin of error when terminating the fiber.

Single mode is suitable for long distance transmission (above 1000 ft) and can also be installed for shorter distances.  As single mode fiber has a very small core, there is a higher margin of error when terminating this fiber type.

In general, we recommend multimode OM3 for installations up to 1000 ft in distance.  Above this distance, use single mode (barring installation-specific requirements).  However, always verify the requirements of your installation. 

For further information, refer to our article on selecting fiber type.

How far can I run multimode?

Multimode optical fiber (multimode fiber or MM fiber or fibre) is a type of optical cable mostly used for communication over short distances, such as within a building, building to building, or on a campus.  Multimode is available in 4 different grades: OM1 (62.5/125 µm, considered a legacy format) and OM2, OM3, and OM4 (50/125 µm). 

Distances capabilities vary according to multimode grade and data requirements.  OM3 multimode, which is our recommendation for most multimode applications, supports 10 Gb ethernet up to 300 m/1000ft, or 40 Gb up to 100 meters / 330 feet. 

For further information, refer to our article on selecting fiber type.

How does Cleerline fiber compare to traditional fiber?

Cleerline SSF™ fibers meet or exceed the standard performance requirements of traditional fiber types within their specific categories. In almost all cases, Cleerline fiber not only meets but exceeds these specifications, some exponentially—bend strength and durability being just a few examples.

What is the difference between distribution cable construction and Micro Distribution cable construction?

Micro Distribution cable does not utilize a 900 µm tight buffer within the construction.

How do I pull fiber through conduit?

When pulling cable through conduit or installing under high tension, be sure to attach the pull string to the aramid/Kevlar® yarns (strength members) within the cable. This will prevent damage to the glass fibers and prevent distortion of the outer jacket.

What do 850 nm, 1300 nm, 1310 nm, and 1550 nm mean?  Which wavelengths correspond to my fiber type?

These values in nanometers (nm) correspond to different wavelengths of light. 850 nm and 1300 nm wavelengths correspond to multimode fiber. 1310 nm and 1550 nm correspond to single mode fiber.