Fiber optic splicing is when two fiber optic cables are joined together. The application of splicing is common in cable assembly houses. It’s a fast and more efficient method of restoring the fiber optic cables in case of damage. If you are using Cox free Internet, which is provided via cable lines, your provider might have used Fiber optic splicing plenty of times to fix their cables.
New to the concept of Fiber optic splicing? Follow along to learn all about this technique.
Fiber Optic Splicing Explained
Splicing establishes a permanent connection between two fiber cables. A fiber optic fusion splicer (a tool) melts the fiber cables from their ends to form a long single cable. It’s like adding a Wi-Fi Extender 101 to receive more signals around the house/premises. Once the two fiberglass ends join, light signals can now pass from one fiber to another with very minimal loss.
These days, fiber optic splicing has become a part of networking projects, LAN, and telecommunication. Probably your Wi-Fi protected setup which is installed by a fiber optic provider at the backend has also relied on fiber optic splicing to some extent. Splicing happens in two ways: fusion splicing and mechanical splicing.
Types of Splicing
Let’s look into fusion splicing and mechanical splicing in details:
It’s an expensive type of fiber optic splicing however, it is more durable than mechanical splicing. A special device “fusion splicer” is used for aligning the ends of two fibers. After this, glass ends are welded together by using an electric arc. As a result, a non-reflective connection takes place between the fibers.
Fusion splicing consists of the following steps:
- Prepare the Fiber
To prepare the fiber, the expert starts by removing its protective coating and leaves it bare.
The expert then uses fiber cleaver to smooth the fiber axis and achieve an accurate splice. The idea is not to cut the fiber but to nick the fiber and pull it for a clean break. This produces a cleaved end to match the perpendicular perfectly.
- Fuse the Fiber
This step involves aligning and heating. This alignment could be automatic or manual. Quality equipment can help achieve more precision. Once the fibers are aligned, the fusion splicer produces an electric arch to melt the fiber and weld the ends together permanently.
- Protect the Fiber
After joining the ends, it’s time to protect the fiber to make sure it doesn’t break. Usually, normal handling does not cause damage. However, it’s best to have protection in case the cable bends later on. Here, a silicone gel, crimp protection, or a heat shrink tube is used for protecting the elements from damage.
This technique of joining two cables together does not involve the fusion splicer. It is the process of joining optical fibers by holding the fiber in alignment using index matching fluid. Experts use a mechanical splice of 6 cm in length and 1 cm in diameter for joining two optical fiber. They align the bare fibers precisely and secure them mechanically.
Then, they apply an adhesive or snap cover on the area to secure the splice permanently. Keep in mind, the fibers are not joined, they are only held together to make sure light can pass from one end to the other. This method provides a high reflection as compared to fusion splicing.
The splices used in this method are small and handy. They work best for quick repairs and permanent installation. They are available for multimode and single fibers. Here are the steps in mechanical splicing:
- Prepare the Fiber
Here also, the expert prepares the ends of cables which need joining. This involves stripping the protective coating, tube, and jacket so much that the bare fiber starts showing.
- Cleave the Fiber
Now comes the task of cleaving the fiber. However, precision does not matter here.
- Join the Fiber
Heating is not a part of the process. The expert aligns the fiber ends and places them inside the mechanical splice unit. The expert uses an index matching gel to couple the light from one end of the fiber to another.
- Protect the Fiber
In the end, the expert wraps a cover around the area to protect the fiber.
Which Method is Best?
This depends on economics and one’s preference. The decision also depends on your industry. Fusion splicing works best with single-mode fiber whereas mechanical splicing works best with single and multi-mode fiber.
Telecommunication companies prefer fusion splicing for long haul networks while mechanical splicing for shorter networks
For splicing, if you partner with a qualified expert, you will ensure the optimal performance of your cables. They normally recommend fusion splicing because its tensile strength falls between 0.5 and 1.5 pounds. Also, it does not damage or break in normal handling. It’s convenient like the Cox bill pay method that allows you to make your Internet payments anytime.