An amazing new product called TiniFiber could be the missing link in the adoption of fiber-optic cabling for high-bandwidth, long-distance applications such as 4K video distribution.
Wrapped tightly in patented “Micro Armor” stainless steel coils, with a layer of Kevlar for good measure, TiniFiber holds up to tight bends, hungry rodents, violent hailstorms and generally careless handling … not by CE Pro readers, of course.
“We did an installation where a half-million people stepped on it,” TiniFiber inventor and COO Barry Skolnick tells CE Pro. “It didn’t lose integrity.”
We all know that fiber optic cable is one of the most powerful media for distributing high-bandwidth video and big streams of other data over long distances. But it’s rarely used, especially in residential venues, because it’s so darn fragile (among other things).
One tiny little snag in a wiring run can damn an entire installation.
“We did an installation where a half-million people stepped on it. It didn’t lose integrity.”
TiniFiber Inventor and COO
Integrators typically mitigate such damage by running fiber through conduit, but the piping is big and inflexible and fails to protect the fiber while it’s still on the spool or being fished through a wall.
For a more fail-proof option, some installers opt for fiber-optic cables pre-wrapped in Aluminum Interlocked Armor (AIA). That stuff is rock-solid for protection, but it’s thick, heavy and unwieldy, requiring a small army of installers to unfurl.
Expect to pay a tidy sum for shipping, storage and extra labor.
If only all that stainless-steel protection could be shrink-wrapped around the fiber, maintaining the small diameter and flexibility of the cable, while preserving the integrity of the jacket.
That scenario describes TiniFiber’s Micro Armor Fiber, which is 65 percent smaller and 75 percent lighter than traditional armored fiber. It is scarcely thicker or heavier than unarmored fiber, meaning it fits through tight spaces where IAI fiber can’t.
“Especially in a lot of retrofits, you can’t get back in there with big Corning wraps,” says Skolnick, referring to a popular brand of chunky AIA-shielded fiber.
TiniFiber Micro Armor vs. Aluminum Interlocked Armor
TiniFiber’s patented process involves proprietary “Micro Armor Machinery,” designed to tightly wind the stainless steel tubular coil around the fiber strands.
“This in turn provides the smallest Outer Diameter (OD) of any armored fiber cable on the market as well as the same OD for current non-armored fiber cables,” Skolnick says.
Other than that, “in 25 years nothing has changed in glass fiber,” according to Skolnick.
TiniFiber received a patent on its Micro Armor Fiber in November 2015, just a few months before ISC West 2016, the big security conference where TiniFiber debuted in the PowerHouse Alliance booth. PowerHouse, a vast network of distributors, is the exclusive distributor of the Micro Armor products.
Dennis Holzer, executive director of PowerHouse, tells CE Pro that TiniFiber is a big coup for the distributor, which serves dealers in the residential A/V, commercial integration and security channels.
Comparing just the armored fiber, pricing for TiniFiber is slightly less than Aluminum Interlocked Armor products – roughly 3% or 4%. But the real savings come in freight cost and labor.
TiniFiber says delivery charges for traditional AIA fiber is about four times that of Micro Armor.
Because of its heft, AIA fiber can take 25% more time to install than lightweight Micro Armor.
View specs, sample pricing and more features in this PPT presentation.
Is this the magic bullet for fiber? Integrators, please weigh in below.