Fibre encapsulated in stainless steel tube or short “Fibre In Metal Tube (FIMT)” is a hermetically sealed rugged construction for very long lengths of optical fibres. Furthermore, it is particularly effective in protecting against the hydrostatic pressures, high temperature effects and corrosive environments.
The inside of the FIMT metallic tube may lined with gel to ensure that the sensor cable remains permanently water-proof. This viscous gel protects the fibres from many environmental concerns, prevents damage from microbending conditions and helps to minimize the forces applied during spooling and deployment.
An important parameter to consider with FIMT is the Excess Fibre Length. It is defined by the percentage of excess fibre loaded into the metal tube during processing to relieve induced stresses directly related to the differing thermal coefficient of expansions of each material contained in the construction. FIMT is exposed to drastic and often rapid changes in temperature and pressure, so the Excess Fibre Length must be considered to ensure continuous, robust performance across all operational conditions.
FIMT constructions contain individual or multiple fibres (single mode or multi mode) and are available in sizes ranging from 1 mm to 3 mm outer diameter, variations in effective wall thickness are possible as well. FIMT serves as the core for various fibre optic sensor cable constructions or may be integrated into high voltage cable designs directly.
The FIMT is manufactured from a special stainless steel strip. During the manufacturing process this strip is formed to a tube and welded along its length. The stainless steel tubes must be hermetically sealed for all applications. For this reason the complete weld seam is subjected to a leak proof test by means of eddy current. By means of a drawing process the desired final diameter is attained on the one hand and an increase in strength through cold conversion on the other. During the manufacturing process the optical fibres are inserted into the tube. They are clearly differentiated by means of a specific colour code. At the end of the production process the tubes are subjected to a complete optical attenuation measurement and then documented for back-tracing. Additionally, each length produced is subjected to a weld penetration test, each weld seam undergoes a leak test, and the Excess Fibre Length is checked.
LIOS offers a variety of FIMT constructions perfectly suitable for distributed temperature sensing applications along power cable transmission systems.