Whenever we need to join two optic fibers together, we use a device called fiber optic fusion splicer. The device uses an electric arc which melts the two fibers at their ends and fuses them into a single long fiber. This allows light to pass through the now single fiber with relative ease and with less data loss. Fusion splicers are commonly used for the process of joining optic fiber cables. Fusion splicing is the most common method used for joining two fiber optic cables. It is preferred over mechanical splicing as it prevents back reflection and minimizes insertion loss. Thus, fusion splicing is used for majority of the splicing operations while mechanical splicing is limited to emergency repairs.
To make sure the whole splicing process is carried out smoothly, we have to make use of another device. Regardless of what splicing process is used, we have to make sure that the end faces of both the optic fibers are cut in a smooth manner. If there are any defects with the cleaved end faces like lipping or chipping, then the fibers can’t be spliced perfectly. This is where fiber optic cleavers come into play. These are devices which are used to cut the end faces of optic fibers in a good way so that splicing can be carried out without a hitch. This article will act as a guide of things you have to consider before selecting an optic fiber cleaver for your needs.
How do fiber optic cleavers work?
Fiber optic cleavers allow us to cleave optic fibers in a clean way by inducing a fracture in a controlled manner. The device has a compartment for holding the fiber that requires to be cleaved. The fiber is placed inside this compartment and is held with tensile stress to avoid any damage. The device uses a scribing tool the purpose of which is to scratch the fiber to be cleaved. The scribing tool is very hard and is usually made of diamond (other materials can also be used). Scratching with the scribing tool creates a large crack in the optic fiber. This induced crack is then expanded across the fiber in a controlled manner at the speed of sound. And finally the whole optic fiber is cleaved producing two smooth fiber tips. The required cleave angle can be achieved by using different methods or kinds of fiber cleavers.
Types of cleavers
Depending upon the kind of cleaving work you are doing, you may require a specific type of cleaver. Fiber optic cleavers come in various shapes and forms and some types are used for special purposes. The following are the basic types of cleavers:
Handheld pocket cleavers
These are also called score and snap cleavers. These cleavers come in form of staplers. They are small and lightweight and can easily fit in your pocket. This is the reason they are a perfect choice to use during field work. They are most commonly used in multimode applications for campus and premise installations. All of this installations don’t require any precise cleaving, thus making such cleavers very easy to use. The cleaving blade is made of ceramic but other materials can also be used.
Pen shaped fiber scribes
These scribes come in the shape of ballpoint pens and have wedges made of diamond. The tip used to scratch the fiber is usually made of diamond (or other materials like carbide). These are used for scoring the fiber before polishing. This method removes the excess fibers from end of a connector before polishing. This, however, is the least used cleaver by field workers or lab technicians because of its inaccuracies. If used by a skilled operative, this cleaver can greatly reduce repairing and installation costs.
Precision desktop cleavers
These are the most commonly used cleavers throughout the world. A diamond or tungsten blade is present which is used to scratch and cleave the optic fiber. Precision cleavers are popular because of their accuracy, efficiency and speed. By setting the blade and wheel at the desired configuration, a person can produce similar results even in the thousandth cleave. Add in the ability to cleave multiple fibers at once and get some of the best optic fiber cleavers present in the market these days. These cleavers tend to be more expensive than their relative counterparts.
Specialized application cleavers
Some cleavers are specialized to carry out specific types of cleaving. Example of such cleavers include Angled optical fiber cleavers that are specialized for cleaving at certain angles. Similarly, cladding cleavers are used for cleaving silica optic fibers.
Things to consider before buying a fiber cleaver
You will find various types of cleavers made by different companies in the marketplace. Before making your purchase, there are certain things you need to consider before getting your fiber cleaver. These include:
First you need to ask yourself, what do you need the cleaver for? If you want to connect fibers using mechanical connectors, then you will be needing a cleaver that can produce cleaves of less than three degree angles. Similarly, cleaves for fusion splicing should be below an angle of one degree. So do your research before making your choice.
Look for latest automation features
If you are going to spend your hard earned money on a fiber cleaver, then it is best to purchase one which comes with the latest features installed. New features like automatic blade rotation and automated scoring mechanism have been added with time, so buy the latest device to make your life easier and save your valuable time.
Avoid splicer with built in cleavers
All fiber optic devices require regular maintenance to carry out their tasks efficiently. In case either of the components require maintenance, you will lose both of your tools for some time delaying any job you have to do for the time being.
Buy from a reputable manufacturer
Always purchase your fiber cleaver from a reputable manufacturer and distributor. This will come with the added benefit of warranties and customer support like repairs and device maintenance. Beware of knock offs that replicate the look of prominent brands but come with cheap parts that are not efficient or long lasting.
Fiber optic cleavers are used for cleaving the optic fibers in a smooth and clean manner. The type of cleaver you buy is going to depend upon your needs and job requirements. Always purchase your fiber cleavers from a reputable source.