Fiber optic cables are a first-rate option for transmitting data, being much faster than traditional copper Ethernet lines. Fiber cable can also run for much greater distances, giving it another leg up on copper cables. However, a potential weakness of fiber is fragility. Compared to copper cables, fiber is easier to break since it contains glass. That is where armored fiber optic cables come in.
Armored fiber optic cable can do everything standard fiber can do while also carrying additional protection. Underneath the jacket, there is a metal tube protecting the delicate fibers at the core of the cable. This metal tube does not hamper performance and provides protection from heavy objects, curious rodents, and other hazards. At the same time, the metal remains flexible enough to allow the cable to bend normally.
ADVANTAGES OF ARMORED FIBER
All the options available to normal fiber (number of fibers, PVC or plenum jackets, single-mode or multimode, etc.) are also available with armored fiber. The armor allows the cable to withstand 7x the force of conventional fiber, providing a substantially larger safety margin if a heavy object is set on the cable or falls on top of it. The protection offered by armor also increases pull tension, making fiber installations easier to manage.
The extra protection provided by armored fiber means it most commonly sees use in industrial environments. Areas with heavy equipment, moving machinery, chemical or moisture exposure, and other potential hazards have a tendency to break standard fiber fairly easily. As industries start to shift towards the faster data speeds provided by fiber, cables built for any environment will transition from convenient to necessary as fiber continues to become more widespread.
TYPES OF ARMORED FIBER
There are two main types of armored fiber: interlocking and corrugated. Interlocking armored fiber uses an aluminum sheath wrapped around the fiber strands in a helix shape. This type of armor offers the best crushing resistance and is most commonly used on indoor/outdoor fiber. Typically, interlocking armor sees use in areas where the fiber cable could find itself underneath large machinery or other sources of extreme weight.
Corrugated armor is made using coated steel tape and folded around the inner portions of the cable during fabrication. This type of armor offers the best protection against rodents that like to chew on cables. As a result, it is most commonly seen on fiber cables that will be left outdoors, in-between walls, or in other rodent-prone areas like basements.
While both interlocking and corrugated fiber have their specialties, that is simply the area of protection each type of armor excels in. Interlocking can be used in areas with rodents and corrugated can be used in areas with heavy machinery. And both types of armor are equally impressive at blocking damage from dust, moisture, oil, gas, and other hazards from outdoor and/or industrial environments. If users expect crushing weight or rodents to be a major problem, then using interlocking vs. corrugated can make a difference. Otherwise, the two are fairly similar.