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How to Choose the Correct Fiber Optic Connector


You got a fiber cable installation job on hand, great!

Now you have to choose the parts for the job, from fiber cable, splice and patch enclosure, to innerduct and everything else.

But wait, what type of connector should you use? Should you choose a quick termination connector such as 3M Hot Melt, or the traditional epoxy and polish connector, or the brand new splice-on connectors as those from AFL and Sumitomo?

The selection of appropriate "assembly style" fiber connector can directly affect your installation quality and cost.

Now let’s look at your options.

1) Traditional Epoxy and Polish Connectors:

These old fashioned tried and proved connectors have the highest reliability and best proven record. Each connector’s overall cost is the least among all types of connectors.

The typical installation time is about 2 minutes each connector and involves epoxy injection, epoxy curing with a heat oven, connector crimping and polishing.

The majority of connectors today use this approach enjoying improvements that apply to better epoxy and polishing procedures. The tensile strength meets EIA/TIA standards of 20lbs and the installer can polish the ferrule to the desired satisfaction. This connector takes longer to install but costs less.


  • Lowest per connector cost
  • Highest quality and reliability


  • Whole set of tools
  • Assembly time is longer (2 minutes)
  • The technician doing the job needs to have good training and experience

This type of connector is suitable for large volume connector installation (to save cost) and production floor. Or if your job requires definitely the highest reliability.

2) Quick Termination Connector – No-Epoxy, Pre-Polished

This type of connector has a pre-polished fiber stub inside the connector body, all you need to do is strip your fiber, cleave it, insert the cleaved fiber into the connector body and then crimp. Your fiber is essentially mechanical spliced with pre-polished fiber stub.

Corning Unicam connectors, 3M No-Polish connectors, 3M Crimplok connectors, AMP Lightcrimp Plus connectors all belong to this category connector.

Since it is pre-polished, each connector costs at least three times more than the standard epoxy connector.

Since no epoxy is used, the tensile strength is half of what is called for in the EIA/TIA standards. Probably the biggest concern with this quick termination style connector is that in a mated pair of connectors you have two splices and a connection point within 3 inches, making failure and loss three times more likely.


  • Quick termination – less than 1 minute per each connector
  • Less skill needed – Any technician with little training can do it


  • Connector cost is high – each connector costs from 7~12 dollars depending on the model
  • Special assembly tools needed – each manufacturer has its own design

This type of connector is suitable for low volume, low training installation. Such as emergency repair, low fiber counts job.

3) Quick Termination Connector – Pre-Loaded with Epoxy

3M Hot Melt connectors are this type of special quick termination connector. The connector comes with epoxy (hot melt epoxy) loaded in the body.

There is no epoxy injection step needed as standard epoxy and polish connector. The steps include fiber stripping, epoxy heating (so it melts and you can insert the stripped fiber), inserting fiber into the connector, connector cooling and polishing.

This product is marketed as a quick termination solution and typically takes less than 1 minute to terminate. The epoxy holds the fiber in place inside the ferrule much like the traditional connectors, therefore the fiber is less prone to breaking due to vibration or abnormal temperature conditions.


  • Quick Termination – less than 1 minute if the technician is good trained
  • High reliability as standard epoxy and polish connectors


  • Whole set of tools needed
  • Higher connector cost

Suitable for quick and high reliability job. Very popular in military applications.

4) Splice-On Fiber Connectors

Recently several manufacturers have been marketing a brand new type of connector – splice-on connectors. This includes FITEL Fusion Splice-On connectors, Sumitomo Lynx Splice-On Connectors and AFL FUSECONNECT Splice-On connectors.

The connector has a pre-polished ferrule and an extra pre-cleaved fiber length (not a fiber stub inside the connector body). All you need to do is to strip your fiber and fuse it with the connector, protect the fusion splice with a heat shrink sleeve and then assemble the whole connector together.

There is no epoxy, no polishing and no mechanical splice involved at all. The steps are pretty easy and any technician with a little training can do a very good job.

Each connector typically takes about 1 minute to terminate.


  • High reliability as standard epoxy and polish connectors
  • Quick termination compared to standard epoxy and polish connector
  • Only a few tools are need (fiber stripper, fiber cleaver, fusion splicing machine)
  • Little skill is needed, any fairly good trained technician can do a very good job
  • Low tool investment if you rent the fusion splicer machine


  • Higher per connector cost
  • Expensive fusion splice machine needed (although you can always rent one)

This type of connectors is suitable for low fiber count, quick but high reliability jobs. If you are doing a large volume job, you’d better stick with the epoxy and polish connectors.

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