Splicing is a technique in which two optical fiber cables are joined end to end. We generally use splicing instead of optical fiber connectors because it gives a join which is permanent or relative permanent.
So the question which instantly comes to our mind is that why we use splicing? The primary use of splicing is to link fibers together whether in underground or aerial outside plant fiber installations and the main reason for it is when the cable we need for a specific task is not long enough for the required run or when we need to restore cables that are broken. The splicing technique is necessary when any breakage occurs in a fiber, as we know that even the weight from a small section of fiber can be sufficient to cause a breakage. Fusion splicing offers life-lasting solution between fiber parts in a networking system.
There are two types of optic fiber splicing:
- Mechanical Splicing
- Fusion Splicing
In mechanical splicing two optic fibers are held end to end inside a sleeve using some mechanical mechanism. In this type of technique fibers aren’t joined permanently rather just accurately hold together, so that light can easily pass through from one end to another, while in fusion splicing two fibers are fused or wielded together using an electric arc, fusion splicing is most widely used technique because it provides a reliable join with lower insertions loss and practically no back reflection. Fusion splicing is generally applied on single mode fibers but in some special cases it can also be used for multi mode fibers.
In Fusion splicing, we use contained heat to melt the two ends of the fiber but first we need to prepare the fiber and thus preparatory process will initiate, which includes removing the coating from each fiber, accurate cleaving and thoroughly inspection of the fiber’s end, after all that the fibers are then placed into the fusion splicer, aligned and wielded together.
Advantages of Fusion Splicing
- Fusion splicing offers a lower variable cost per fusion splice.
- It offers lower insertion loss and provides better performance, typical insertion loss is < 0.1 dB, therefore, it has very low impact on overall link performance.
- It provides better, more secure environment, so that there are minimum cable failures and weak signals.
- It provides a solution that is very compact and neat.
- It provides the lowest back reflection.
- The join it produces is very strong and has the highest mechanical strength.
- When compared with other methods, the join it produces is permanent.
- Fusion splicing can survive extremely high varying temperatures.
- It blocks the path of dust and other contaminants from entering the optical path.
- It is a joining technique that is quick and worry-free.
- Fusion splicing is a best choice for single mode applications.
Disadvantages of Fusion Splicing
- The upfront cost of fusion splicing is very high mainly because of expensive fusion splicing device.
- Fusion splicing requires a constant power supply and some special tools.
- There are some situations where fusion splicing is not practical or we can say it is impossible, so as an alternative, we have to use mechanical splicing.
- Fusion splicing is a time consuming process and can’t be used for temporary connections.
- Fusion splicers need periodic maintenance which involves regular cleaning, electrode alignment and occasional replacement.
- Fusion splicing is mainly used with single mode fiber unlike mechanical splicing which works for single mode fiber, as well as, multi mode fiber
Now You Know the Ins and Outs
In this article, we studied various ins and outs of fusion splicing and found out that fusion splicing has more advantages than disadvantages; where the main benefit we gain from fusion splicing is lower splicing loss and less back reflection. These two factors distinguishes it from other methods. Also if we get into a job with significantly higher fiber counts, fusion splicing could save time over installing connectors. However, organizations that don’t have splicing experience may want to consider whether to invest money in a fusion splicer and the cost and time that would be needed to train their staff.
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