Fusion splicing is the process of joining two optical fibers end-to-end, using heat to bond them. The goal is to fuse the two fibers together in such a manner that the light passing through the fibers is not scattered or reflected. The resulting fiber is almost as strong as the individual pieces. The heat source is usually an electric arc, though the heat source can also be a laser, gas flame, or a tungsten filament through which the current is passed. Due to the sensitive nature of fiber optic cable, it is best to have quality tools to prepare and terminate fiber.
Fusion Splicing Process (The Four Steps)
The process of fusion splicing normally involves using localized heat to melt or fuse the ends of two optical fibers together. The splicing process begins by preparing each fiber end for fusion.
Stripping the Fiber
Stripping is the act of removing the protective polymer coating around optical fiber in preparation of fusion splicing. The splicing process begins by preparing both fiber ends for fusion, which requires that all protective coating is removed or stripped from the ends of each fiber. Fiber optical stripping can be carried out by a special thermal fiber stripper tool that uses hot sulfuric acid or a controlled flow of hot air to remove the coating. There are also mechanical fiber strippers used for stripping fiber, which are similar to copper wire strippers. Fiber optical stripping and preparation equipment used in fusion splicing is commercially available through a small number of specialized companies, which generally design machines used for fiber optical re-coating.
Cleaning the Fiber
The bare fibers are then easily cleaned using alcohol and wipes.
Cleaving the Fiber
A Fiber Cleaver is then used to cleave the fiber utilizing the score-and-break method so that the endface is perfectly flat and perpendicular to the axis of the fiber. The quality of each fiber end is inspected using a microscope. In fusion splicing, splice loss is a direct function of the angles and quality, belonging to the two fiber endfaces. The closer to 90 degrees the cleave angle is, the lower optical loss the splice will yield.
Splicing the Fibers
Current Fusion Splicers are either of core or cladding alignment. Using one of these methods, the two cleaved fibers are automatically aligned by the Fusion Splicer in the x, y, z plane, then fused together. Prior to removing the spliced fiber from the Fusion Splicer, a proof-test performed to ensure that the splice is strong enough to survive handling, packaging and extended use. The bare fiber area is protected either by recoating or with a splice protector. A splice protector is a heat shrinkable tube with a strength membrane.
The Fujikura/AFL 31S Fusion Splicer Kit is one of the worlds’ smallest and lightest portable fusion splicers on the market, today. This unit is unmatched in its performance amidst the most challenging of work environments. This Fusion Splicer is built for shock, moisture, and dust resistance. The transit case expedites mobility and serves as a portable workstation, while the battery lasts for up to 100 splices and has extended life electrodes. Moreover, measuring at just 4.76”W x 6.38”D x 2.24”H, this Fiber Optic Fusion Splicer uses a dual camera and fixed V-groove alignment technology. The 4.5” monitor provides a crystal-clear image even under sunlight, furthering the overall capabilities of this splicer.
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