Fusion splicer is a device that is used to join two optic fibers together. 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. It is also highly recommended that a fusion splicer should be cleaned before and after each use. This article will give you a quick overview on how to use your fusion splicer devices properly.
Components of an optic fusion splicer
The splicing of two optic fiber cables is a very delicate process as any error (no matter how little) can cause major problems. The fiber optic fusion splicers are small but complex devices which are specifically designed to carry out this process. Some fiber optic fusion splicers may have more than 1,000 tools or parts incorporated in them. The following are some of the main components present in a fiber optic fusion splicers:
As the name suggests, fiber strippers are used for the removal of the protective coating of the fiber optic cable. These are usually designed to be compatible with multiple types of protective coverings and jackets. No-Nik stripper, Micro-strip stripper and Miller stripper are some of the most common strippers used in fiber optic fusion splicers. Fiber strippers must be cleaned after every use.
LED light source:
Fiber optic fusion splicers come with LED light sources that help with illumination of fiber optic cables during the image processing.
Every fiber optic fusion splicer comes with an installed PAS software. This software helps in estimating any energy or material losses during the splicing process. Thus, PAS software can be used to ensure minimum loss of energy.
We know that Fiber optic fusion splicers use an electric arc which melts the two fibers at their ends and fuses them into a single long fiber. The discharge electrode is used for the generation of this electric arc during the splicing process.
Optical core alignment system:
This helps in the perfect alignment of the two cores of the fiber optical cables which are to be spliced. Any defects in this system can result in faulty alignment and poor splicing of the cables.
These clamps aid in the correct calibration and fixing of the discharge electrode.
These clamps hold and fix the fibers to be spliced in the correct position in V-groove of fiber optic fusion splicers.
It protects the splicing process in case of abnormal discharge created by wind energy.
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How to use Fiber optic fusion splicers?
Before using a Fiber optic fusion splicer for the splicing process, there are certain precautions which should be considered. Make sure that the process is carried out in a clean environment. Microscopic dust particles can adversely affect the splicing process as well as the performance of the spliced optic fiber cables. Always clean a splicer after every use. Also make sure that the room temperature is moderate (15-28oC) and not way too high or low. Also make sure to wear any protective equipment if possible. Let’s begin;
Before we move to the actual splicing process, we need to prepare the fibers that are going to be spliced. This will include:
- Remove the protective jacket from the fiber cables that are to be spliced. Usually 2-3m of jacket is removed for this purpose.
- Use a fiber stripper to strip the fibers. Make sure to clean the fibers before doing so as any dust particles will interfere with the splicing process.
- After exposing the now naked fibers, clean again to remove any removing impurities.
- Place the exposed fibers in the appropriate positions with the help of fiber clampers.
After the necessary preparations are made, it is now time to splice the fibers. This will include:
- Select the required program for the fibers being used.
- Evaluate the fiber ends on the video screen to see if they are properly cleaved.
- Start the pre-fuse cycle which will heat the fibers for splicing. It will also remove any dirt present on fiber ends.
- The cores of the two fibers will be aligned by the alignment system.
- The discharge electrode will generate an electric arc which will then fuse the fiber ends.
- The joined fiber ends will then be removed and a protective covering will be added to the now spliced ends.
After a splice is complete, the Fiber optic fusion splicer will run an inspection to see if the splice was done correctly. If not, it will tell the user to redo the splice. The user can also inspect the splice using both X and Y views. Some minor faults are acceptable as they don’t have any major effects on performance. Faults like bulges and bubbles require a redone.
After the splicing process is completed, it’s now time to cover the newly spliced portion of the fiber. In most cases, mechanical protectors are used that ensure that the splice doesn’t break by bending or extensive handling. In addition to this, silica gel and heat shrinkable tubes are also used for protection purposes.
A Fiber optic fusion splicer can be used as stated in the steps above. Fiber optic fusion splicing is more effective than mechanical splicing but takes more time to complete. Fusion splicing is a delicate process and, therefore, it is recommended that the process should be performed by a trained professional to ensure minimum energy losses.