Splicing Fiber Optic Cable

Splicing Fiber Optic Cable

Splicing fiber optic cable is a new type of functional optical cable that joins two different optical cables together through mechanical or fusion splicing. This splicing fiber cable offers improved durability and minimal loss. Fiber splicing is often used when a fiber optic cable breaks unexpectedly or is extended. In addition, it can also join two different cable types, or attach a fiber pigtail. Through fiber splicing, fiber optic technicians can extend the length of the fiber to make it long enough for use in a required cable run. In addition, splicing is also used to repair severed fiber optic cables that are buried underground or to rejoin fiber optic cables when inadvertently broken.

Splicing Fiber Optic Cable

While the other method of joining fibers is called termination or connection, splicing is faster and more efficient. It is most commonly used in the field but has applications in cable assembly houses. In addition, it is used to restore fiber optic cables when a buried cable is accidentally severed. Splicing has lower light loss (attenuation) and back reflection than terminations or connections.

Methods of Splicing Fiber Optic Cable

The two most common methods of fiber splicing are mechanical and fusion. There are many factors to consider when choosing which type of fiber splicing to perform.

Mechanical Splicing

Mechanical splicing uses a small mechanical splice that precisely aligns two fiber optic cables and then secures them mechanically. After the two ends are secured, a snap-type or adhesive cover is used to fasten the splice permanently. The fibers are not permanently joined, just precisely held together so that light can pass from one to another. Splicing loss is typically 0.3 dB or 10%. Mechanical splicing is usually used when splices need to be made quickly and easily.

Fusion Splicing

Fusion splicing is the most used method of fiber optic splicing. It first uses a fusion splicer machine to align the two fiber ends. Then, an electric arc is used to “fuse” the glass ends together. Fusion splicing is more expensive but has a longer life than mechanical splicing. In addition, it can achieve very low-loss light optical transmission. The typical loss is 0.1 dB. Fusion splicing produces a reliable joint with low insertion loss and nearly zero back reflection, and thus, is more widely used than mechanical splicing.

Benefits of Splicing Fiber Optic Cables

1. Compared to using connectors, splicing not only provides a stronger and more reliable joint but also introduces much lower insertion loss.

2. Splicing can be used to mix several different types of fiber optic cables, for instance, connecting a 48-fiber cable to six 8-fiber cables.

Steps to Splice Fiber Optic Cables

1. Prepare the Tools and Materials

Before you begin splicing fiber optic cable, you’ll need to gather the tools and materials: fiber cable, fiber fusion splicer, protective sleeve, heat shrink tubing, stripping tool, cleaver, etc.

2. Prepare the Fiber Cable

The first step in splicing fiber optic cable is to prepare the fiber cable. Start by stripping the cable to reveal the bare fibers. Then, use a cleaver to cut the fiber to the correct length. Ensure that glass offcuts are safely disposed into an optical fiber sharps container. The offcuts can be a dangerous hazard if not properly discarded.

3. Clean the Fibers

Use an alcohol pad to clean the ends of the fibers. This removes any dirt, oil, or other contaminants. Make sure to clean the fibers thoroughly and allow them to dry completely.

4. Load the Fibers into the Fusion Splicer

Once the fibers are clean, they can be loaded into the fusion splicer.

5. Perform the Splice

Perform the splice. The fusion splicer uses a high-powered arc to fuse the fibers, creating a permanent and highly secure bond. Most fiber fusion splicers will automatically align the fibers and detect/signal once a splice has been correctly performed.

6. Protect the Splice

Once splicing is complete, it is important to protect the spliced joints to prevent any damage. Use a protective heat shrink sleeve to secure the splice.

7. Test the Splice

Finally, it’s important to test the splice. You can use an optical power meter and a visual fault locator to test the splice.

FAQ of Splicing Fiber Optic Cable

What are the methods of splicing fiber optic cables?

Mechanical splicing and fusion splicing.

Why use fiber optic splicing?

Fiber splices are typically employed for one of four reasons: to repair a damaged cable, extend the length of a cable, join two different cable types, or attach a pigtail.

Where are splicing fiber optic cable applications?

Splicing fiber optic cables exist across industries, such as Computer Networking, Telecommunications, Medical, etc.

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