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. Just like other devices, fusion splicers also require regular cleaning and maintenance. Just like with optic fiber cables and connectors, most of the problems in the proper working of splicers comes from microscopic dust particles that degrade the overall effectiveness of the device. 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 you can clean your fusion splicer devices properly.
Cleaning a fusion splicer:
The most common contaminants that affect the splicers performance are dust and dirt particles. To ensure their complete removal, mostly a solvent is used. The most common liquid used is alcohol which is applied with the help of cotton swabs. Before you start the cleaning process, make sure that the splicer has been turned off for a while. After this start cleaning each component of the fusion splicer one by one carefully and gently. The breakdown of the cleaning process for each component is as follows:
Cleaning of V-grooves:
V-grooves are important components of fiber fusion splicers as they help in proper alignment of optical fibers which are to be spliced together. Optical fibers are very small and sensitive and any dust or dirt particle (no matter how small) can cause the fiber to be completely offset. Take a new cotton swab and dip it in alcohol. Take this swab and gently brush the surface of the V-grooves starting from one end to the other. Be gentle to avoid any damage to the apparatus.
Cleaning of LEDs and mirror protection glass:
The Led light serves as an illumination source that helps in the whole image processing step. Same thing goes with the mirror protection glass. A dirty glass would make an image hard to see so cleaning is a necessary evil. The general cleaning process is going to be the same. Take a cotton swab, dip it in alcohol and gently swipe it across the LED surface. Don’t use any excessive force while cleaning the glass as it can get damaged. Always make sure to use alcohol in small amount. Excessive alcohol is not recommended as it can leave stains that may be hard to clean. In some cases, the stains are irremovable resulting in glass replacement. Also avoid using canned air for cleaning at all costs.
Cleaning of bare fiber pads:
Bare fiber pads help in the users in fixing the optical fiber in V-grooves. Any dirt particles or other contaminants can result in fiber offset disturbing the whole splicing process. Take the cotton swab, moisten it with alcohol and start the cleaning process as mentioned in above sections. Use dry cotton swab to remove any excess alcohol after cleaning is done. Be gentle as too much force can damage the fiber pads.
Cleaning of microscopes:
Microscopes, along with LEDs and the mirror protection glass, help you with the image processing step. Your microscope (and its objective lenses) is going to be your primary source of visualization. Any contaminant covering the lens will make it difficult to see. Before you clean the lens, make sure to remove the installed electrodes. These should be handles with care as they are very sharp. After that, you can continue with the cleaning process with an alcohol moistened cotton swab. Wipe the lens in a circular motion for better results. Dry the alcohol with dry cotton and reinstall the electrodes.
Cleaning of heat shrink oven:
Dust and dirt are easily piled up in the heat shrink oven as compared to other parts. First use a dry cotton swab to clean the heating plate. This will get rid of any large particles. Follow this an alcohol moistened cotton swab. Remove the excess alcohol if necessary.
Cleaning of fiber holders:
Last but not the least are the fiber holders which can be cleaned in the exact same manner as above. Just use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to get the job done.
It is necessary that fusion splicers be cleaned regularly to ensure better performance. Maintenance checks should be carried out at regular intervals.