4.2 Testing Methods
Presently, any of a number of different tools are in use to remove buffers. They fall into three broad categories: shearing blades, these are similar to the conventional strippers used for fine wire stripping and are made by a number of different manufacturers. They are characterized by a shearing action caused by displaced parallel blades that rely on the materials lower yield to separate the small areas of buffer not captured by the right angle blades. The second type of tools use parallel blades that meet with a predrilled hole sized for the optical fiber coating size. They typically cut almost all the buffer material equally and leave no thicker areas of material to break off during the removal pull. One concern with these tools is blade wear can be rapid and significant making their repeatability poor. The third type of tools use some variant of both the shearing or guillotine styles and a thermal heater to soften the material and make it more compliant in removal. These type tools which make stripping easier are becoming more common in the field but differences in designs and coating materials make them an unlikely candidate for standardized testing.
It is worth noting that all three types are in widespread field and factory use. Many large users of optical fiber cables have standardized on one of these types. It is important that a repeatable test method be developed that all cable manufacturers and their customers can use to verify performance and allow multiple vendors of cable to compete with equal performance parameters. Below is a table showing the proposed categories and tool types for a proposed test methodology.
In order to provide a repeatable and reliable test method we need to provide a set of standard easily reproducible test methods. Selection of a tool(s) from one or more category should define tool condition (i.e. blade sharpness under magnification) as well as the environment and stripping conditions. Questions such as, do we use of the tool to push the buffer off the fiber or to use hand pressure to slide the buffer material by pulling the cut buffer need to be defined. (It is likely that depending on the categories such as length removed and whether there is gel present, different methods by category will be chosen.)
Interpretation of Test Results
In the past standard strip testing of tight buffer fibers has used two criteria as pass fail. These are related to the absolute strip force exerted on the optical fiber when in the act of stripping and secondly, the length of material that can be stripped in one action. As can be seen from the table above, there are several additional properties that must be taken into consideration. These include tool type, microscopic damage to the coating caused by the stripping action, temperature conditioning of the buffered fiber prior to testing, method of pushing or pulling the buffer off and clean ability of the coated and bare fiber post stripping operation.
Based upon the existing and expanded use of strippable tight buffers for a number of applications, specific tight buffer standards need to be developed to allow cable manufacturers to develop and test this family of cables to a common set of standards. Definition of these additional properties will allow uniform development of termination products that take advantage of these defined properties. Basically we need to classify a new cable category and allow both cable manufacturers and termination manufacturers the ability to use the design advantages of a common set of properties.
 TIA 455A Fiber Optic Test Procedures
 Telcordia GR-409-core Issue 2
 Telcordia GR-409-core Issue 4
 ITU 657.A 2009-11
 Verizon TPR 9430
 Gye-Tae Moon and Sun-Ae Shin, Development of Re-Usable Super-Innovated (Simple Access-SC) for Quick Installation, IWCS proceedings 2012
 Lawrence B. Ingram, Benefits of standards for Wire and Cable Products, IWCS Proceedings 2012
 Figure 1. diagram of local injection and Detection system: http://www.thefoa.org/tech/ref/termination/lid.jpg
 Figure 2. Fusion splicer equipped with LID: http://www.aurora-optics.com/images/altimax_3.jpg
 Figure 3. Splice tray: http://www.fibercommsolutions.com/fiber_optic_splice_trays
 Figure 4. Loose tube / Tight Buffer: https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/imagesq=tbn:ANd9GcRLSzWO4Zpiq5JQmMyFWydSKw2C_NtwMKDihFuqCKYCA4XrDDgqqA
 Figure 5. Shearing type stripping tool: http://www.techni-tool.com/680IE0677?gclid=CNH-q_6HoscCFdYSHwodJ6cJLw&ef_id=VPKENAAAAea00QWQ:20150811221944:s
 Figure 6. Guillotine type stripping tool: https://www.thorlabs.com/newgrouppage9.cfm?objectgroup_id=1388&pn=M44S67&gclid=COjI1tCIoscCFVMXHwod2RoKhQ
 Figure 7: Thermal stripper: http://www.signamax.com/optical-fiber-systems/475