What is fiber optic pigtail?

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Fiber optic pigtail provides a fast way to make communication devices in the field. It is designed, manufactured and tested according to protocol and performance dictated by industrial standards, which will meet your most stringent mechanical and performance specifications. This article provides some basic but important knowledge of fiber optic pigtails.

1. What is fiber optic pigtail?

Fiber pigtail is a single, short, usually tight-buffered fiber optic cable with a factory-installed connector on one end, and un-terminated fiber on the other end. A fiber optic pigtail is used to splice each fiber in the trunk and “break out” the multi-fiber cable into its component fibers for connection to the end equipment. It usually appears in the fiber optic terminal box and is connected to other fiber optic cable cores by fusion splicing, which can simplify the installation and maintenance of the cable system.

stapc pigtail

2. How do fiber pigtails work?

One end with a fiber optic connector is used to connect equipment, and the fiber optic cable core’s stub is spliced with other fiber optic cable core stubs to achieve minimum insertion loss.
Cut patch cord from the middle, then it forms two pigtails. Pigtails have a variety of different connectors, common pigtails are usually installed in the ODF unit.

  • Characteristics of fiber pigtail
  • Insertion loss≤0.2dB
  • Return loss: PC/UPC>35dB; APC>60dB
  • Working temperature: -40~+55℃
  • Diameter: 0.9mm, 2.0mm, 3.0mm

3. What are the types of fiber optic pigtails?

3.1 Fiber connector

Fiber optic pigtail connector types are LC, sc, ST, FC, MT-RJ, MU, E2000, etc.
LC fiber optic pigtail: Uses the LC connector developed by Lucent Company and the 1.25mm ceramic ferrule.
SC fiber optic pigtail: SC pigtail connector is a non-optical disconnect connector with a 2.5mm pre- -radiused zirconia or stainless alloy ferrule.
ST fiber optic pigtail: ST pigtail connector has a long 2.5mm diameter ferrule made of ceramic (zirconia), stainless alloy, or plastic.
FC fiber optic pigtail: FC fiber pigtail has the metallic body of FC connectors, featuring the screw type structure and high precision ceramic ferrules.
MTRJ fiber optic pigtail is made of a duplex precision molded MT ferrule connector.
MU fiber optic pigtail is a push-pull style small form connector with 1.25 outer diameter ferrules.
E2000 fiber optic pigtail has a secure transmission of high bit- -rate protocols, zirconia ceramic ferrule fully protected by the spring-loaded shutter, a push-pull locking mechanism for easy installation, and color-coded release levers.

The connectors of fiber pigtails mainly include five types: LC, SC, FC, ST and MTRJ. The following table lists 5 common fiber optic pigtails and illustrated their applications, models, shapes and descriptions.

Types Common applications Connector model Description
LC Generally used in optical transmission modules LC/UPC  Lucent connector
SC Most used on routers and switches SC/UPC Subscriber connector
FC Most used on patch panels FC/UPC Ferrule connector
ST Generally used in fiber optic transceivers ST/UPC Straight tip connector
MTRJ Particularly suitable for fiber-to-the-desk applications MTRJ Mechanical Transfer Registered Jack

Note: Fiber pigtails have female and male fiber optic connectors. Female fiber optic connectors can be connected in fiber distribution boxes and fiber adapter panels, and male fiber optic connectors can be directly inserted into optical modules.


3.2 Fiber type

Pigtails are generally divided into single-mode pigtails and multi-mode pigtails. The single-mode pigtail has a wavelength of 1310nm and 1550nm, and the transmission distance is 10km and 40km respectively; the multi-mode pigtail has a wavelength of 850nm and a transmission distance of 500m, which is used for short-distance interconnection.

Single-mode fiber pigtail: The core diameter of the single-mode fiber pigtail is 9/125 μm, and the color of the outer sheath is usually yellow. One end of it is usually connected to optical modules, optical fiber adapters and other equipment, and the other end is spliced with optical fibers. SM fiber pigtail is available in OS1 and OS2 types.

Multimode fiber pigtail: The core diameter of the multimode fiber pigtail is 62.5/125μm or 50/125μm, which is the same as the single-mode fiber pigtail structure. According to the ISO/IEC 11801 standard, multimode fiber pigtails can also be divided into OM1, OM2, OM3 and OM4 fiber pigtails. The outer sheath color of OM1 and OM2 multimode fiber pigtails is usually orange, and the outer sheath color of OM3 and OM4 multimode fiber pigtails are generally aquae.

3.3 Fiber cores

According to the number of fiber cores, fiber pigtails can be divided into 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24 or 48 core pigtails. Regardless of the number of fiber cores of fiber pigtails, they all use the structure of “N*1 fibers + N*1 connectors”. For example, single fiber pigtails consist of one fiber and one optical fiber connector, and the duplex fiber pigtail consists of two optical fibers and two optical fiber connectors.

3.4 Grinding and polishing of the connector

In the label indicating the pigtail connector, we often see “FC/PC”, “SC/PC”, etc., the meanings are as follows:

The front part of “/” indicates the connector type of the pigtail, such as “SC”, “LC”, “FC”, etc.
The part after “/”indicates the cross-section process of the optical fiber connector, that is, the grinding method, such as PC, UPC and APC, etc.
“PC” is most widely used in telecom operators’ equipment, and its connector section is flat. The attenuation of “UPC” is smaller than that of “PC”.


3.5 Application environment 

In order to cope with the extremely harsh application environment, people have designed and developed bundle fiber pigtails, ribbon fiber optic pigtails, armored fiber pigtails and waterproof fiber pigtails.

A bundle fiber optic pigtail: It is a multi-core pigtail and has a connector at one end and a broken end of the fiber at the other end. It is connected to the core of other fiber optic cables by fusion.

The ribbon fiber optic pigtail: It is a multi-core pigtail and contains 12-core fiber. One end is used for fusion splicing and the other end is equipped with a connector.

Armored fiber pigtail: The outer sheath of the armored fiber pigtail is made of stainless steel tube, which is strong and durable. It provides additional protection for the fiber, and at the same time improves the reliability of the network, and can effectively avoid rodent bites, construction operations, and other unnecessary damage, etc.

Waterproof fiber optic pigtails: Waterproof fiber optic pigtails with a strong outer jacket and waterproof sealed header connectors are ideal for harsh environments such as communication towers, cable TV, and the military. It has low insertion loss, high return loss, good interchangeability and repeatable push-pull performance, and is very convenient to use.

fiber pigtail type

3.6 Sheath material

Optical fiber pigtails are also the same as conventional optical fiber patch cords. They are divided into three types: PVC, LSZH and OFNP optical fiber pigtails due to different materials. PVC optical fiber pigtail is the most common type on the market, with average fire resistance and relatively low price; LSZH optical fiber pigtail has better flame retardant performance and is more expensive; OFNP optical fiber pigtail has the best flame retardant performance and the most expensive price, ideal for data center applications.

4. Features and benefits
Fiber optic pigtail provides high reliability, high adaptability, good repeatability, high density, high return loss, high-temperature stability, low insertion loss, lower labor costs, and ease of installation.

5. Application

Fiber pigtails provide interconnection and cross-connection applications in the network connection of access equipment and are widely used in the following scenarios:

  • fiber optic communication systems
  • fiber optic access network
  • fiber optic data transmission
  • fiber CATV
  • local area network (LAN)
  • test equipment
  • fiber optic sensor
  • serial server
  • telecommunications network

application pigtail

6. Precautions for the use of fiber optic pigtail

  • The pigtail should avoid looping as much as possible during use, which can reduce the attenuation of optical signals during transmission.
  • The optical module connected by the pigtail must match the pigtail. The short-wave optical module must be connected to a multi-mode pigtail, and the long-wave optical module must be connected to a single-mode jumper, so as to ensure the accuracy of data transmission.
  • The connector of the pigtail should be kept clean, and the connector should be protected with a protective cover after use to prevent oil, dust and mechanical damage.
  • Before use, the pigtail ceramic ferrule and the end face of the ferrule must be wiped clean with alcohol dipped in absorbent cotton.
  • When the pigtail is damaged due to man-made or other factors, the damaged patch cord should be replaced in time.

7. How is the fiber pigtail spliced with the fiber?

what is a pigtail connection? The optical fiber fusion splicing technology mainly uses a fiber fusion machine to connect the optical fiber to the optical fiber or the optical fiber to the optical fiber pigtail, and fuse the bare fiber and the optical fiber pigtail in the optical cable together into a whole, while a separate fiber head of the fiber pigtail is connected to the fiber optic transceiver to connect the optical fiber and the twisted pair to the information socket.

The main tools used in the optical fiber fusion process are optical terminal box, optical fiber transceiver, optical fiber pigtail, coupler, special wire stripper, optical fiber cutting knife, etc.

  • Mechanical splicing: Strip the laying optical fiber and pigtail fiber, cut it, clean it, and insert it into the splice matching disc to align, tangent and lock.
  • Fusion splicing: Use auxiliary tools to strip the laying optical fiber and pigtail fiber, cut it, clean it, and then use an optical fiber fusion splicer under the protection of a fusion splicer to “melt” into one.

fiber pigtail splicing

7. Fiber patch cords VS Fiber optic pigtails

As connecting devices for optical network transmission, optical fiber patch cords and optical fiber pigtails have many similarities, which often make us confused. fiber-pigtail-vs-fiber-optic-patch-cord


All in all, the biggest difference between the fiber pigtail and the fiber patch cord is the difference in appearance. The fiber patch cord has connectors on both sides, while the fiber pigtail has only one connector and the other end is bare fiber. Simply put, the fiber patch cord can be used as a fiber pigtail by dividing it into two. You can click to learn more about fiber pigtail VS the fiber patch cord.

8. Summary

The above is a detailed intro to fiber pigtails. The application of fiber pigtails can be seen everywhere, but the most common application is the combination of other optical components. It is widely used in telecom equipment rooms and data centers and can meet the connection requirements of Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and high-speed fiber channel networks. Please contact us if you need fiber pigtails.

Echo Huang

Echo Huang is an expert wordsmith and marketing professional at Bonelinks with more than 8 years of experience in high technology businesses – fiber optics, IoT, and telecommunication. She is very glad to share industry knowledge and communicate with others.

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