Splicing: How to Properly Fuse Together Fibre Optic Cables
Fiber Optic Splicing refers to the process which either joins or holds two fibers together. This fusion may be temporary or permanent in nature. In case a data center is looking forward to deploying a new network or expanding an existing fiber optic network, it is more than imperative to ensure that that the fibers are spliced appropriately. This will help avoid unwanted network disruptions.
Splicing is essentially undertaken for two reasons-
• Rejoining accidentally broken fiber cables
• Fusing two or more cables to form a longer cable
Methods of Splicing
When it comes to splicing Mechanical Splicing and Fusion Splicing are the most commonly used methods. Since a mechanical splice simply creates a temporary junction between two fires, it can be performed as quickly compared to a fusion splice. However, mechanical splicing is known to result in an increased insertion loss and often proves to be more expensive. It is for this very reason that mechanical splicing is only used in case when a quick restoration is required and not for permanent fixtures. Given the fact that fusion splicing is permanent in nature, and doesn’t involve any significant insertion loss, it is more popular than its counterpart. Moreover, it proves to be more cost-effective in spite of the high initial investment.
So, let us take a look at how to properly fuse fiber optic cables using fusion splicing.
Step 1 – Fiber Stripping
Optical fibers are usually coated with protective polymer. In order to begin the process of fusing, it is important to strip the fibers of this coating, which is carried out using a mechanical stripping device. Here, it is essential that the stripping device is through cleaned.
Step 2 – Fiber Cleaning
Once the fiber is stripped of the coating, it is necessary to clean the fiber, using 99.9% isopropyl alcohol (IPA). That being done, the fibers must be cleaned with lint-free wipes.
Step 3 – Fiber Cleaving
Cleaving of a fiber refers to the process of ensuring a clean break, such that the end-face of the fiber is perfectly flat, as well as perpendicular to the fiber’s axis.
Step 4 – Fiber Fusing
Once the cleaving of the fiber is taken care of, the ends of the fibers must be aligned with precision using the fusion splicer. That being done, the fibers must be melted using an electric arc, such that their ends will be permanently welded together.
Step 5 – Fiber Protection
Once the fibers are fused, they are then coated with a protective layer using a splice protector.
Now that all the steps are complete, it is highly advisable for you to test the fiber using an OTDR or optical time domain reflectometer. This is done to help verify the splice loss, and check if there are any faults in the spliced fiber!