By William Graham
We can splice fibers with fusion or mechanical methods. Fusion is the accepted way since it is reliable, fast and cheap. Once you own the Fusion splicer the only cost is for a protective sleeve for the fiber. The Fusion splicers I spliced with many years ago ( and don’t ask how many years) cost over $40,000.00 and needed calibration much more often than the new models.
Splicers similar to the one shown, with a cleaver, case, tools etc costs $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 and do great splices consistently, providing you treat them properly.
There are two basics types of splicer for single fibers:
Core Alignment which gives the lowest loss of generally 0.01 – 0.02 Db. This is generally the only acceptable method for Telco and Cable TV installations.
Cladding Alignment which is less accurate with losses of perhaps 0.03 – 0.05Db. Usually this method is acceptable for short distances such as Fiber To The Home Installations.
At one point there was a large price gap between the two types but this has narrowed to the point where there is very little cost difference between the two and I see more of a trend to Core Alignment for everything.
I am continually amazed as I watch splicers fusion splicing and complaining about the junk gear their boss gave them. They redo the splices several times, in some cases, and in the final outcome do not have splices of the quality the equipment and themselves are capable of achieving. The solution is simply a matter of taking a few minutes at the start of the day and cleaning their equipment. Treat the equipment with care and remember it is delicate. This short time investment will pay off big time through the day. Also it might put a smile on their supervisors face as a result of your increased production. Hey…. maybe even get you a raise.
Things to keep in mind when we are splicing if you want consistent good splices:
Read the instructions on both the splicer and the cleaver. Reading the instructions is not cheating and can save you and your supervisor some frustration.
Keep it in the case when not in use. The airborne dirt is your enemy.
Don’t expect good splices under adverse conditions of dirt, dampness and wind. You might have to create conditions of heat, cleanliness and light if you expect good splices.
Keep the dome and heater covers closed unless you are splicing or heating. It has a gasket and is almost air tight.
Clean your splicer before you start splicing even if you cleaned it the day before. It might look clean but it is not a beauty contest clean it before you start splicing. If you are splicing in a dirty environment you will clean it several times through the day.
Use an air bulb and fine brush for cleaning.
Do not used spray cans or the propellants might do damage and dirty the mirrors below the electrodes and in the dome.
If splicing gel filled cable ensure it is really clean so you don’t gum up the splicer.
Clean any gummed up grooves with a piece of sharp wood. Never use metal. A tooth pick works well for this
Charge the battery when you finish. The splicer shown will do over 200 splices and heats on a charge.
Have a stable and secure place for your splicer when splicing. If it drops on the floor it is probably garbage.
Keep your shrink splice sleeves in a sealed container (ziplock bag)
If you drop the shrink splice sleeve on the floor, leave it there. It is probably dirty.
Never clean the fiber with alcohol after you have cleaved it or you might cause reflections.
Have the splicer serviced (calibrated) when necessary. You will know when it is not working properly.
Clean the cleaver before you start with a fine brush and alcohol, especially if using gel filled cable. Clean the grooves with a piece of wood such as a tooth pick. The metal is soft and if you use metal to clean the grooves you will scratch them.
Close the cleaver between cleaves to keep out air-borne dirt.
If you are getting bad cleaves you probably need to advance the cleaver wheel to the next setting. You will probably get 400 to 700 cleaves on each setting depending on the cleaver.
And, finally, if you drop the cleaver on the floor its value will be drastically diminished.
Manage your fiber ends and empty the scrap container at the end of the day.
Following these rules will allow you to become the great splicer you were destined to be.