Fiber Polishing Supplies
For Ceramic Ferrules
Thorlabs offers a family of products to assist customers who would like to connectorize their bare fiber, including fiber polishing film for use with ceramic or stainless steel ferrules, polishing films, polishing pucks, polishing plates, and connectorization kits. We also offer instructions on how to polish a connector, including how to glue and cleave the fiber. A color manual can be purchased below, or it can be downloaded here for free. The components sold here are also available in kits, sold at the bottom of the page.
Calibrating the D50-SMA
Included with the D50-SMA is the D50-A calibration pin. To use this calibration pin, you will need an arbor press and a flat surface as a reference. Using the arbor press, press the calibration pin into the center hole of the puck. This will press the threaded part of the polishing puck into the flat disc until the end of the calibration pin is level with the bottom surface of the puck. This will ensure that the fiber is polished to the correct height in the SMA ferrule.
Thorlabs offers lapping (polishing) sheets to polish a connector after the fiber has been epoxied into the ceramic ferrule. Polishing or Lapping Film is composed of tiny particles glued to a substrate. By moving the connector over the polishing film, excess material is removed and the fiber end is polished. Different grades of polishing film are used in successive polishing cycles. Each polishing cycle uses a finer grit paper.
Our diamond sheets have tiny diamond particles glued to a substrate of polyester with resin. We highly recommend a five step polishing process: the first four steps using diamond sheets in four different grit sizes of 30, 6, 3, and 1 µm, and the fifth using our final polishing sheets. To use, drop distilled water on to the sheet and polish in a figure-eight motion using an appropriate polishing puck (sold below).
Our Final Polishing Sheets (LFCF), which eliminate the need for slurry, are designed to be used as the last step in the fiber polishing process. These sheets are made by coating polyester film with precision-grade silicon dioxide. These sheets produce an excellent surface finish with minimal scratches and offer no binder contamination on the optical fiber during polishing.
We recommend using these sheets over the less expensive aluminum oxide/silicon carbide sheets when polishing ceramic or zirconia ferrules because they do not cause undercutting when polishing the connector like silicon carbide can. Undercutting occurs when the fiber material is removed more quickly than the ferrule material creating a dip just above the fiber. When the connector is mated to another connector, instead of obtaining a glass-to-glass interface, the air gap created by the undercutting causes a glass-air-glass interface and excess loss, which is undesirable.
Despite the higher upfront cost per sheet, each area of the sheet can be used up to 20 times instead of once, compared to the aluminum oxide/silicon carbide sheets featured below. This greatly increases its value. These 6” x 6” sheets should be used with our glass polishing plates and rubber mats (see below).
Note: The diamond and final polishing films are sold in packages of 5.
Thorlabs offers Aluminum Oxide and Silicon Carbide lapping / polishing sheets to polish a connector after the fiber has been epoxied into the ferrule. Lapping sheets are like sandpaper for optical connectors. Tiny aluminum oxide or silicon carbide particles are glued to a substrate of polyester with resin. Since we highly recommend a four step polishing process when using aluminum oxide or silicon carbide sheets, we offer our sheets in four different grit sizes: 3, 1, and 0.3 µm grits using Aluminum Oxide and 5 µm grit using Silicon Carbide.
Typically, each area of each sheet can only be used once to polish a single connector. Also, care should be taken when polishing your connector as these sheets can cause undercutting especially with ceramic or zirconia ferrules. Undercutting occurs when the fiber material is removed quicker than the ferrule material creating a dip just above the fiber. When the connector is mated to another connector, instead of getting a good glass-to-glass interface, the air gap created by the undercutting causes a glass-air-glass interface and undesirable excess loss.
These 13” x 9” sheets should be used with our glass polishing plates and rubber mats (see below).
Note: Aluminum oxide and silicon carbide sheets are sold in packages of 10.
In order to hold the fiber connector securely and to maintain the proper angle, a Manual Fiber Polishing Puck is used. The puck makes it easier to hold the connector against the polishing film and ensures an even polish. We offer polishing discs for six different connector types. Please note that discs are specific to the type of connector; they are not interchangeable.
FC/PC and SC/PC Connector Polishing Disc
FC/APC Connector Polishing Disc
SMA Connector Polishing Disc
ST/PC or LC/PC Connector Polishing Disc
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D50-F Polishing Puck in Jig with Secured Ferrule
Thorlabs’ bare ferrule polishing pucks provide a convenient and secure platform to evenly polish bare ferrules. Each puck includes a jig that is used to set the depth of the ferrule and a setscrew that firmly holds the ferrule in the puck. To use, simply place the puck on the jig, drop the ferrule into place, and tighten down the setscrew with the included 0.050" hex key (see image to the right). The puck will ensure that the ferrule is held perpendicular to the polishing surface while allowing the user to polish by holding the puck instead of the ferrule. During the polishing process, it may be necessary to return the puck to the jig in order to reset the proper depth. This simple yet practical device alleviates concerns of damaging or breaking the fiber while polishing the ferrule.
We offer the D50-F polishing puck for FC/PC and SC/PC ferrules and the D50-L for LC/PC ferrules.
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Polishing Pad on Glass Polishing Plate
Glass Polishing Plate
Guide to Connectorization and Polishing of Optical Fibers
Thorlabs' Fiber Optic Termination / Connectorization Kits contain all of the materials for your connectorization needs with the exceptions of the single mode or multimode connectors and the optical fiber, which need to be purchased separately. The CK01 is an SMA Connectorization Tool Kit, the CK03 is an FC/PC Connectorization Tool Kit, and the CK05 is an FC/APC Connectorization Tool Kit. The CK03 and CK05 kits include a Rubber Polishing Pad (50 Durometer) that is used to produce PC (radiused) polishes.
We recommend our fiber optic disposal unit (FTDU, sold separately) to properly dispose of all cleaved fiber scraps, epoxy, and syringes.
To view the MSDS documents for the F112 epoxy included in these kits, click on the red Docs icons below.
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The TUK05's Carrying Case
has Removable Foam Inserts Secured by Hook & Loop Tabs
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We Recommend Using the FS200 Fiber Inspection Scope with the TUK05 Kit
A fiber optic connector end face is an optical-quality surface that needs to be free of dirt and scratches for optimal performance. When cleaning the end face is not effective, Thorlabs' TUK05 Touch-Up Polishing Kit allows worn fiber connector end faces to be repaired by polishing out the scratches.
The kit includes polishing supplies and complete repair instructions, all housed in a convenient carrying case. The kit has components compatible with FC/PC and FC/APC ceramic ferrule connectors and has enough polishing film to repair approximately 20 connector end faces.
Connectors can generally be repolished 10 times before reconnectorization is necessary. For replacement of worn or marred connectors, contact Thorlabs' tech support for assistance.
Kit Expansion Options
The carrying case has extra storage slots for the FS200 microscope, two extra polishing pucks, and one extra dropper bottle as well as space for additional lapping film. The case has removable foam inserts (see photo to the left) for reuse or storage of other components.