What is the difference between a loose buffer tube and tight buffered cable design?

February 4, 2020

Outside plant cables have traditionally utilized loose tube cable designs. In this cable design, the fibers are placed inside plastic buffer tubes having a diameter several times larger than the fiber. Because the fibers are “loose” in the buffer tubes, they can move freely and are protected from the effects of mechanical forces and temperature fluctuations. Also, to protect the fibers from sticking together and to prevent water from causing fiber stress, a gel filling compound is placed inside the buffer tubes. Tight buffer designs, on the other hand, are most prevalent in indoor applications. In this design, the plastic buffer is applied directly over the coating on the fiber to a diameter of 900 microns. Consequently, fibers in tight buffer cables cannot move freely and are not protected as well from the stresses of temperature variations. However, this cable is used for indoor applications where the temperature variations are not extreme. Also, because the fiber in tight buffer cables stretch with the cable, tight buffer cables exhibit great flexibility and ruggedness for frequent handling which is ideal for indoor cables.

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