Have You Chosen the Right Cable Jackets?

Have you noticed that patch cables are all wrapped in various jackets? These cable jackets are important to serve as the protection for inner cable parts. Different kinds of jackets can influence the applications as well. Knowing the differences in cable jackets will help you make better decisions when choosing cables. Lots of materials can be made as cable jackets to cope with different situations. This article will mainly introduce some common types and analyze their distinctions.



PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a common jacket type widely used for general patch cables. The low cost and easy manufacture contribute to its popularity around the world. You can find PVC jackets almost everywhere when patch cables are used. PVC material is highly moisture-resistant so that can be perfectly applied to humid environment. But it also has some defects that will limit the service lifespan. For example, PVC material often becomes fragile under direct sunlight and its flexibility is restricted when greater bending is required.


LSZH (low smoke zero halogen) is the material that gives off low toxic and corrosive gas under fire. It greatly ensures the high visibility and low respiratory damage when cables come across open fire or short circuit fault. LSZH cable jacket is typically applied to areas where smoke factor is considered to be the most important, such as aircraft, rail cars, ships, buildings and so on.


OFNP (optical fiber nonconductive plenum) is specified by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), which has no electrically conductive component inside optical cables. This type of cable jacket can effectively prevent fire and emit low smoke. OFNP cable is the highest fire rating fiber cable and has no replacement. Places including ducts, plenums, and other building airflow areas are suitable for installation.


PUR (polyurethane) cable jacket is the thermoplastic material that is usually used in harsh environment. It provides both mechanical resistance and chemical resistance. Thus, PUR cable can be installed for industrial applications where strong protective coating is demanded. Also, its flexibility makes itself a good material for retractile patch cables in continuously flexing applications. But it is more expensive than the common cable jackets.


PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) sheath is a synthetic fluoropolymer material suitable for extreme environment. It is very durable under both high and low temperatures and can not be affected by most oils, fuels and fluids. This kind of cable jacket is widely used in military, aerospace, coaxial, and appliance wiring applications.


Rubber jacket is a good option for portable power applications in outdoor or wet environment. It has better performance than plastic materials in flexibility, high temperature resistance and durability. Other applications like mining submersible pumps, control circuits, motor and associated machinery, construction equipment, etc. are also available.


Silicone is the synthetic rubber with greater flexibility and stronger resistance against extreme temperatures and chemicals. Of course, it does not operate as high temperatures as PTFE. But with the extremely supple characteristic, silicone cable sheath is perfect for applications where lots of wire bending are required. And when it encounters fire, only a small amount of smoke will be produced which is also environmental-friendly.


After reading this article, you may get a general idea about the current cable jacket types and where they should be used. And certainly, if you want to find the most suitable jacket for your project, knowing this information is not far enough. But I hope this article can let you understand the importance of choosing a right cable jacket in your future applications.

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Fiber Optic Connector Types, Market, & Installation

Cost Effective POF Fiber In General

Through glass fiber optic cable is more welcome in today’s telecommunication system, plastic optic fiber(POF) is another option as it can do something that fiber optic doesn’t do. Before the invention of the plastic optical fiber, the glass optical fiber had been invented but still it never met the standard set because it only managed medical imaging at a certain level. POF’s tight bend radius and low cost make it unique for Medical Imaging applications.

Since the modifications to enhance better POF Fiber have been on and we experience major improvements day by day. Most of the technology we use especially in communication and data transmitting is through the plastic optical fiber. One of the most exciting developments in polymer fibers has been the development of microstructured polymer optical fibers (mPOF), a type of photonic crystal fiber. Traditionally PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) is the core material of plastic optic fiber, and fluorinated polymers are the cladding material. Since the late 1990s however, much higher-performance POF based on perfluorinated polymers (mainly polyperfluorobutenylvinylether) has begun to appear in the marketplace. The latest state of POF, engineers now know the right types of plastics and manufacturing techniques to develop graded-index and low-NA plastic fiber with transmission rates of 3 Gb/sec in runs exceeding 100m.

POF in Simple:

  • PMMA and Polystyrene are used as fiber core, with refractive indices of 1.49 and 1.59 respectively.
  • Generally, fiber cladding is made of silicone resin (refractive index ~1.46).
  • High refractive index difference is maintained between core and cladding.
  • High numerical aperture.
  • Have high mechanical flexibility and low cost.
  • Attenuation loss is about 1 dB/m @ 650 nm.
  • Core/Cladding size 1 mm.
  • Bandwidth is ~5 MHz-km @ 650 nm.

Plastic optical fiber is commonly applied to consumer short-distance fiber for electronic appliances and motor vehicles. POF has been called the “consumer” optical fiber because the fiber and associated optical links, connectors, and installation are all inexpensive. Due to the attenuation and distortion characteristics of the traditional PMMA fibers are commonly used for low-speed, short-distance (up to 100 meters) applications in digital LANs, home appliances, home networks, industrial networks (PROFIBUS, PROFINET), and car networks (MOST). The perfluorinated polymer fibers arecommonly used for much higher-speed applications such as data center wiring and building LAN wiring.

Unlike the fiber cables used in long distance communication systems that require precise cutting, polishing, and alignment or the connector terminations on CAT5/CAT6 cable that require special equipment like fusion splicer, fujikura electrodes, fiber cleavers, optical fiber aligners, LAN Network Tester, cable crimping tool and so on. POF Fiber can be installed by anyone using a simple cutting tool. POF Fiber can be easily installed under baseboards and along carpet edges or around door moldings. It can be pulled under carpets, fit through small holes, or run inside the wall cavity and attic as is done with traditional wiring practices.

Plastic Optical Fiber System

There are numbers of services providing large-volume information content, such as high-definition movies, continues to increase rapidly. Single-mode glass optical fiber has been widely deployed in data trunk lines and pipelines to connect large cities and nations. It has already become indispensable as an information transmission medium. However, SM GOF is mechanically weak and lacks sufficient bending ability. Moreover, as the core diameter is very small, just 10 um, extremely precise techniques and expensive devices are required to connect fibers to signals receiving devices.

Because of this, SM GOF is rearly used for very short reach networks, such as local area networks in buildings. Facing this “last hundred meters” problem in optical fiber infrastructure, plastic optical fiber has obvious advantage over it:

POF fiber is made out of a plastic such as acrylic (PMMA) as the core material and fluorinated or perfluorinated polymers as the cladding materials. It carries optical signals along a core made from plastic, instead of the more traditional silica, the price of which is much cheaper. It can cost approximately one fifth as much as comparable glass fiber. Which puts it within reach of more consumers. Customers who want to connect to the silica fiber optical network maintained by a telecommunications company usually cannot afford traditional optical fiber for internal wiring, but the plastic optical fiber can help to make the connection.

Plastic optical fiber (POF) systems offer the promise for low cost applications in communications, data transmission, illumination, lighting, imaging, sensing and light transmission. Plastic fiber optic systems provide the same advantages of glass optical fiber (GOF) but at lower cost and easier use. Glass optical fiber systems have received more attention than POF, mainly due to their rapid acceptance in telecommunications as data rates up to 100 Mbps and distance up to 100 meters.

Plastic fiber optic cable systems are also finding increased applications for sensors and lighting. The technology is also moving rapidly as evidenced by recent papers on multimode and single mode POF, high temperature fiber, integrated POF circuits, laminated lightguides, discrete components both active and passive, optical switching, and other developments too numerous to mention.

However, POF has two important weaknesses: it has significantly lower bandwidth than GOF, and its attenuation is far higher. Recent developments conquering both of these issues now mean that POF is regarded as the strongest candidate at present for optical data transmission over the last hundred meters.

Affordable Plastic Optic Fiber

Plastic optical fiber, Polymer optical fiber or POF is an optical fiber which is made out of plastic. Similar to the traditional glass fiber, plastic fiber transmits light (or data) through the core of the fiber.

Traditionally PMMA (acrylic) is the core material, and fluorinated polymers are the cladding material. Since the late 1990s however, much higher-performance POF based on perfluorinated polymers (mainly polyperfluorobutenylvinylether) has begun to appear in the marketplace. The perfluorinated polymer fibers are commonly used for much higher-speed applications such as data center wiring and building LAN wiring.

Advantages of POF

  • Plastic fiber is an inexpensive type of fiber and generally lower quality than glass optical fiber. Attenuation is generally higher with plastic fiber. Unlike glass, plastic fiber can easily be cut and bent to fit in hard-to-reach places and the larger core also allows for slightly damaged fiber to work. PoF is much larger in diameter which results in lower data rates making it most suitable for high bandwidth signal transmission over short distances. POF products are most commonly used in medical, automotive, home networks, as well as digital audio and video interfaces.
  • One of the most exciting developments in polymer fibers has been the development of microstructured polymer optical fibers (mPOF), a type of photonic crystal fiber. POF fiber also has applications in sensing. It is possible to write Fiber Bragg grating in single mode and multimode POF.
  • Plastic fiber attenuation over short distances is not a major problem and therefore is becoming popular in more popular especially where there are budget concerns.
  • Plastic fiber is extremely durable and is able to be bent much more than glass fiber, however it is flammable, so care must be taken in deciding whether plastic fiber is correct for particular applications.
  • POF sustains a data transfer speed of 2.5GB/s, which isn’t as fast as glass optical fiber, but is much faster than traditional copper wire.

Although the actual fiber optic cable cost per foot is similar to the plastic fiber, their installed cost is much higher due to the special handling and installation techniques required.  POF offers promise for desktop LAN connections, can be installed in minutes with minimal tools and training. POF cost approximately one fifth as much as comparable bulk fiber optic cable, which puts it within reach of more consumers.  Bandwidth exceeds anyones estimates for the next decade. Prices are competitive with copper. Standards groups are now looking at options for POF. POF could prove the next viable desktop connection.