Sticklers® MicroCare Corporation

Sticklers® Fiber Optic Cleaners

MicroCare, a global leader in the world of precision cleaning, invented and manufactures the Sticklers® fiber optic cleaning products. Sticklers® fiber optic cleaners deliver perfectly clean ports, jumpers and splices.

This family of fiber cleaning products eliminate expensive repair calls and costly warranty claims, delivering fast, reliable fiber networks at the lowest cost:

  • Sticklers® fiber cleaning fluid cleans better and faster than old-style IPA alcohol.
  • Sticklers® CleanStixx™ swabs scrub the entire end-face of a port, not just the contact area, eliminating an important source of contamination.
  • Sticklers® CleanWipes™ out-perform older paper wipes and cartridge cleaners, saving money.
  • Sticklers® family of push-to-clean tools offer the best value and highest quality
  • Most Sticklers® products are non-hazardous, and can be shipped by air without hazmat fees

Sticklers® cleaners can clean any connector or port, any size, any configuration.

Connectors cleaned with Sticklers® products include: SC, FC, ST, LC, MU, ASC, AFC, UPC/APC, E2000, connectors with exposed termini such as MIL-DTL-38999 connectors (even with the Glenair adapter in position), expanded beam connectors, MPO/MTP® connectors with guide pins (male) and trunk (female) assemblies; duplex and unmated jumper assemblies and many more.  MicroCare is ISO registered.

FAQs on Cleaning can be found in AskFOC.

Just search Sticklers in our Content Search:

   Cleaning Questions and Answers

 

Why is it important to clean both ends of the connector pair?

ANSWER:

If an operator forgets to and only cleans one end of a mated connector pair, the clean connector will become cross contaminated.

Residue based contamination will transfer from the contaminated end face to the clean end face.

You can tell when this happens because you will usually see a coffee ring stain on both connector end faces.

Dust based contamination will also transfer from the contaminated end face to the clean end face.  When this happens, the dust particles will start to break apart and spread across both ferrule end faces.  Another common problem that happens with dust contamination creates pits and scratches on both ferrule end faces.

 

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team August 8, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

What happens if there are dust particles on one of the connector end faces during the connector mating process?
ANSWER:

Mating connectors with dust will embed the debris into the ferrule end face causing permanent scratches and pits. The way to calculate contact pressure (P) is to divide the normal force divided by the surface area or simply P=F/A.

If we assume a connector has mating force of 3kg (6.6 lbs) and that the contact area of the two mated connectors is 200µm (0.00787 inches), the contact force between of the mated connector pair in the contact zone is 147N/m2 (21 psi). This is enough pressure between the two mated ferrules to embed the dust particles into the ferrule end faces creating scratches and pit marks in the glass of the fibre as well as on the surfaces of the zirconia ceramic of a single fiber ferrule and polymer composite materials used for MT ferrules. Scratches and pits located in the contact will have a negative impact of the signal performance and spike the inspection losses and disrupt back reflectance for angles polished connectors.

 

 

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team July 18, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

How dust based contamination cause signal loss between a mated connector pair?
ANSWER:

Dust particles that are not removed will interfere with the signal’s path as the light passes between the two mated fibers. The light from the outgoing ferrule could be absorbed or reflected back into the fiber as the signal comes into contact with dust particles.

There are also times when the dust particles can interfere in the mating process causing small air gaps. That slight gap can causing a diffuse reflection effect where the signal is reflected in multiple angles which spikes the insertion loss.

 

 

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team July 2, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

Why is it a bad idea to dip the cleaning tip of a mechanical click cleaner directly into the cleaning fluid when doing a wet to dry cleaning process?
ANSWER:

All of the mechanical click cleaners currently on the market use a synthetic woven fabric cleaning strand or cleaning ribbon. The cleaning strands or cleaning ribbons will flow across a tip on in a single direction. This motion effectively wipes away the contamination from the ferrule end face.

The synthetic woven micro strand has excellent absorbency for wiping away common residue based contaminates like skin oil, humidity, or alcohol residue. If an operator inserts the cleaner’s cleaning trip directly into the cleaning fluid, he will have a problem. The cleaning fluid will absorbed up onto both sides of the cleaning strand. You will not be able to control how much cleaning fluid is being wicked up onto the strand. The cleaning strand will become over-saturated with the cleaning fluid on both sides. When this happens, the operator is going to have to engage the cleaner multiple times to get to a dry section of the cleaning strand.

This is mechanical click cleaner’s tip with the outer barrel removed:

If you have put the cleaning tip directly into the cleaning fluid, your best option is to stop using the cleaner for a few minutes and let the cleaning fluid evaporate off. You can tell when the fluid is gone by touching the tip periodically until it feels dry. You don’t need to worry about cross contamination touching the cleaning strand to see if I feels dry. When you engage the cleaner, the part of the strand that has your skin oil be move away in the engagement process.  The next step is to engage the cleaner five or six times in a row to make sure all of the over-saturated section of the cleaning strand has passed.

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team June 4, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

How does dust contamination negatively impact a mated connector pair and where does it come from?
ANSWER:

Dust is the most common contaminate that negatively impacts optical connectors.  The dust particulates that are in the contact of a mated connector pair interferes with the signal path. Smaller particles in contact will obstruct signal path which creates a loss. Larger particles of dust may interfere with the mating process.

 

 

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team April 12, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

We are looking for a replacement of isopropyl alcohol as a fiber optic cleaning fluid (specifically the isopropyl alcohol that is used to clean the stripped fiber before gluing the connector). Our goal is to get rid of any alcohol used in the connector assembly process.

FULL QUESTION:

We are looking for a replacement of isopropyl alcohol as a fiber optic cleaning fluid (specifically the isopropyl alcohol that is used to clean the stripped fiber before gluing the connector).  Our goal is to get rid of any alcohol used in the connector assembly process.

Can you tell us a little more about Microcare Sticklers MCC-POC03M and MCL Eco-Clean cleaning fluids on your website or alternative fluids?

Also, we are using Schleuniger equipment for fiber stripping. The fiber is very clean.  Can we proceed directly to connector assembly without cleaning fluid?  Is static charge a problem?

 

ANSWER:

Short Answer:  

If optimum health / safety is the target, the Stickler fluid will be an improvement over IPA, and should also clean fibers well.  I have not used the MCL fluid in production, but the published marketing advantages seem to be similar to Stickers, so I’m assuming they have similar performance.  ==> I’d recommend always cleaning after stripping.

Very Long Answer:

Cleaning fluids:

Sticklers fluid:  I’ve only used 99%+ IPA for this cleaning in manufacturing environment.  I’ve used Stickler fluid for low-volume cleaning (doing demo’s of equipment, where I need to clean a few connectors here and there—-the little bottle is very easy for carrying for field use.).   It’s always worked well, though I have never done any real experiment specifically to quantify / compare the cleaning effectiveness.   I think the Stickler fluid is certainly a good option, performance-wise.   And it’s non-flammable, “non-hazardous”, etc.  Certainly smells like IPA, but doesn’t support a flame for more than a second or two.

MCL Fluid:   I’ve zero experience with it, can’t really comment.  I would have to guess the chemical makeup would be similar enough to Stickler fluid—–the marketing bullet-points seem similar.

Cleaning process:

There are a few risks associated with not cleaning after stripping:

  1. Oils or other film / residue on the fiber prevents good bonding of the epoxy to the fiber.   This can / will result in reduction in long-term performance / reliability.   On a “PFMEA” analysis, this would be a high “Severity”  of 7, 8 or 9.   But what’s worse is that the effects of this are nearly impossible to detect in the short-term, so , again in a PFMEA analysis, the “Detection” rating would be huge—-9 or 10.
  2. Gross contamination may clog the ferrule hole, making insertion of fiber difficult (leading to increased mfg costs, including likely increased scrap).  This is less of a worry about customer satisfaction, and more a question of keeping your manufacturing costs / throughput on-target.
  3. Cleaning with a moistened cleaning tissue usually provides an additional service:  By “squeaky cleaning” (cleaning with moist tissue until you hear the fiber “squeaking”), the “squeak” comes from the fiber vibrating very quickly.   This vibration serves as one test of fiber integrity——if there are nicks, scratches, or other defects in the stripped fiber, the hope is that this vibration may cause the defect to propogate due to the vibration, and fail now (rather than after the customer receives the product).   I’ve been trained that this is true, and it seems sensible, but have never objectively measured if this is a real benefit or not.

Thus: after stripping, I’d highly recommend additional cleaning of the fibers regardless, UNLESS the following conditions are met:

  • You can determine that
    • the fiber is indeed perfectly clean after stripping—-cleaner than you can get with using IPA or some other fluid / cleaning method,
    • and there is very low risk of the stripping process resulting in unclean fibers.
  • The fiber is immediately inserted into a connector, without ever putting the stripped fiber down or transporting it in the production line to next step, where there is some risk of fibers contacting a contaminated surface.
  • ALL fiber types / manufacturers in your production line strip with the same cleanliness.   (I’d not like to have a variety of strip / clean procedures and have to depend on the production line controls to ensure proper stripping / cleaning procedures are used, based on the fiber manufacturer or type of buffer material, etc).

 

Static Charge:

I do believe static charge can certainly create several issues, mostly in terms of attracting loose dust particles from the room air—a relatively minor problem (easy to re-clean—it’s not attracting residue or oils, etc).    Efforts to reduce static charge should be implemented if cost-effective to do so.   I’m not well-versed in where the static charges are usually created and best way to avoid, but I *think* the stripper process itself can generate static.   Cleaning with lab-wipe and IPQ certainly can / does create static charge.

If the Stickler or MCL fluid does indeed reduce static charge (as claimed), I’d say this is a “moderate” advantage in connectorization.   I have seen situations where engineers introduced an ionized air “wash” at the stripping  / cleaning stations to remove static charge on the fibers during cleaning (an ionized air line at the bench—I don’t know any other details on the ionizing of the air), seemed cheap and effective solution—–but again, if you achieve the same with a special cleaning fluid instead of IPA, then even better.

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team March 16, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

Where does dust based end face contamination come from?
 

ANSWER:

There are two basic sources of dust based contamination.

  1. Wear Debris

The most common source is wear debris caused by the contact friction of inserting a connector into the adapter.  Connectors like the SC and MPO have sliding housing that are held in place by latches in the adapter.  Other connector systems like the ST, FC, and many of the hardened connector systems have metal housings that are threaded and use orientation keys that generate wear debris. Other sources of wear debris are the protective end caps. Removing the end caps from a connector that was perfectly clean during the last inspection at factory will cause the end face to become contaminated when the end cap is removed by the installer.

  1. Environmental Dust

The other common contributors for dust based contamination is our environment.  The common sources of dust in the air that contribute to dust based contamination include:

  • Dead skin, hair, and clothing lint
  • Foam based swabs and paper based wipes
  • Zinc whiskers from electroplated surfaces
  • Cardboard packaging
  • Plant pollen and molds
  • Aerial blown dirt and sands
  • Concrete and carpet dust
  • Electricity generation & vehicle emissions

 

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team August 16, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

How residue based contamination cause signal loss between a mated connector pair?
ANSWER:

Residues that enter the signal path are changing the transmission medium the light signal travels through.

The residue will have different refractive index than the glass core of the fibre and will cause some of the signal’s wavelengths to disperse.

The signal will experience a chromatic aberration effect happens because the residues will have different refractive indices.

 

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team August 2, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

Why do I need to clean my fiber optic connectors before mating?
ANSWER:

It is critical to clean both end of the connector pair to prevent damage during the mating process and get the optimal optical performance. Contamination that is not removed will cause an unnecessary signal loss in a best case scenario and can also cause permanent damage the surface of both connector end faces. The IEC 61300-3-35, IPC 8497-1, and IEC 62627-01 list the same process for visually inspection and cleaning both connector end faces before mating.

 

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team June 24, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

What is the best way for doing a wet to dry cleaning process using a mechanical click cleaner and cleaning fluid? We purchased Stickler MicroCare from you.
ANSWER:

The best way to do a wet to dry cleaning is to use a minimal amount of the cleaning fluid. A small amount of cleaning fluid is all you need to effectively breakup and loosen any end face contamination from the ferrule end face. That same small amount of cleaning fluid is also all you need to increase the local humidity levels for totally eliminating an electrostatic charge.

You will want to start by applying a small amount of the cleaning fluid to an optical grade clean wipe. Be careful not to over-saturate the wipe.  The next step is to take the tip of the mechanical click cleaner and touch it to the wet part of the wipe. You want to apply a small amount of the cleaning fluid onto the cleaning strand. The wet the section of the cleaning strand is what will make the initial contact with the ferrule end face. The final step is to insert the cleaner into the adapter if you are cleaning an in bulkheads connector.

After you clean the in bulkhead connector, you need to inspect and clean the connector on the cable assembly to prevent cross contamination. You will want to repeat the step of touching the cleaner’s tip into the wet part of the wipe. This will reapply a small amount of cleaning fluid to next section of the cleaning strand. The final step is to attach the end cap onto the barrel of the cleaner, insert the connector into the end cap, and engage the cleaner.

 

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team May 4, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

When should I use stick cleaner and what are some limitations to using these types of cleaners?
ANSWER:

Mechanical click cleaners are good for cleaning light to medium levels of end face contamination when you have many connector pairs that need to be cleaned. The basic mechanical action of the click cleaners is to have the cleaning tip rotate 180° which the cleaning strand flows across the tip. The effect is a sweep and lifting motion for wiping away contamination off the ferrule end face. Most mechanical cleaners have a spring loaded cleaning tip for controlling the contact force. If the ferrule end face has lot of residues or has a high to severe level of contamination, the mechanical click cleaners may not be able to wipe away enough of the contamination from the ferrule end face. Higher levels of end face contamination are usually encountered in outside plant networks and legacy networks that have not been properly maintained over many years.

Most mechanical click cleaners have barrels and end caps that are designed to ensure the cleaner’s cleaning tip is wiping away end face contamination from the contact zone on the ferrule. The self-alignment feature eliminates the need for the good technique by the operator which means consistency with the mechanical click cleaner’s cleaning performance. Mechanical click cleaners usually offer a lower cost per clean when compared to other cleaning options like cassette based cleaners and stick cleaners.  The way to determine cost per clean is to take the price of the cleaner and divide it by the number of uses.

There are some limitation with mechanical click cleaners. The cleaning region of mechanical click cleaners will never be able to completely clean a ferrule end face. The cleaning tip has to be able to fit inside and rotate unobstructed through the adapter sleeve.  If your application is experiencing issues with particle migration, the better option may be to use a stick cleaner.  The mechanical click cleaners will not be able to remove any dust contamination on the adapter sleeve.

  Answered by AskFOC Technical Team WITH the Sticklers MicroCare Corporation Team March 28, 2017

Have a technical question for Fiber Optic Center?

Please email your question to AskFOC@focenter.com and we will respond ASAP.

In addition to replying, we will post your question and our answer here on the AskFOC page.  Everyone remains anonymous when we post so feel comfortable asking your questions.  You can also search to see if your question has already been answered in the FAQs section below.

AskFOC@focenter.com

 VIEW PRODUCTS

 

[products skus=”36652, 36007, 17690, 37868, 37863, 37864, 37865, 37866, 37867, 12789, 17273, 17274, 17275, 37000, 17450, 16870, 13837, 17765, 35832, 36653, 17695, 17816 ” columns=”4″]

23 Centre Street
New Bedford, MA 02740 USA