Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (2022)

It’s no secret that fiber optic cabling has become a major product category for the AV installation industry, but oftentimes proper training and education are not readily available. To make things easier on small businesses and installers, here is a thorough guide to safely splicing fiber optic cables.

First, let us understand the meaning of the term “splice.” According toCambridge Dictionary, to splice means to “join the ends of something so that they become one piece.” So in essence, fiber optic splicing is a process used to join two separate fiber optic cables together.

There are numerous use cases for fiber optic splicing. Through splicing, fiber optic technicians can extend the length of the fiber to make it long enough for use in a required cable run. As fiber optic cables are generally only produced in lengths up to around 5km, so when lengthier connections are needed, splicing two cables together becomes necessary.

So when the cable runs are too long for a single length of the fiber, or if there’s a need to join two different types of fibers, such as a 48-fiber cable to four 12-fiber cables, splicing is the answer. Splicing is also used to repair severed fiber optic cables that are buried underground or to rejoin fiber optic cables when inadvertently broken.

While there’s another method of joining fibers known as termination or connectorization, splicing is usually the preferred way to join two fiber optic cables as it results in a lower light loss (attenuation) and back reflection than connectorization.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (1)

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Moreover, splicing renders a permanent or relatively permanent connection between two fiber optic cables. Some companies do offer fiber optic splices that can be disconnected at will, however, they are typically not meant for frequent connection and disconnection.

In an ideal world, a fiber optic installation would consist of long, continuous cable runs from one place to another. However, in reality, fiber optic splices are inherently necessary and always used when designing, installing, and maintaining a reliable communications network.

The Two Main Methods of Fiber Optic Splicing

With fiber-optic connections becoming increasingly mainstream, the ability to accurately perform fiber optic splicing is becoming more and more important. As of now, fiber optic splicing can be carried out using one of two methods: fusion splicing and mechanical splicing.

Before moving forward with a fiber optic installation, it is vital for integrators to have a fairly good understanding of both methods. This would help determine which technique will work best for your company’s long-term goals and fit your performance and budget requirements.

Method #1 – Mechanical Splicing

This fiber optic splicing technique involves the precise alignment of two fiber optic cables, held in place by a self-contained assembly rather than a permanent bond. A mechanical splice is designed to hold two fiber cables in a way that allows light to pass through seamlessly, with a typical loss of around 0.3 dB or 10%.

(Video) Fundamentals of Fiber Optic Cabling

In this process, the technician must use an alignment device along with an index matching gel. The gel must have a similar refractive index to enhance the light transmission across the joint, with minimal back reflection.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (2)

Mechanical splicing is usually used when splices need to be made quickly and easily, for instance, to temporarily connect cables during installation. That’s because mechanical splicing can be easily disconnected if the need arises and you don’t require costly apparatus to perform the splice.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (3)

Method #2 – Fusion Splicing

The other method to join two fiber optic cables together — and this time we’re talking a permanent connection — is fusion splicing.

In this technique, a machine or an electric arc is used to produce heat and fuse/weld glass ends that are precisely aligned together for continuous transmission of light. This translates to a much lower attenuation of around 0.1 dB.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (4)

Fusion splicing produces a reliable joint with low insertion loss and nearly zero back reflection when done correctly, and thus, is more widely used than mechanical splicing. For example, it’s used in long high data rate connection lines that, once installed, are unlikely to be modified.

Mechanical Splicing vs. Fusion Splicing

One major reason for choosing a particular method over the other is budget.

Mechanical splicing has a low initial investment but costs more per splice. Whereas the cost per splice for fusion splicing is lower but the initial investment is much higher, starting at ten times higher than mechanical splicing, based on performance requirements and features of the fusion splicing machine used.

Talking about performance, the decision comes down to the project you are working on. As outlined earlier, fusion splicing produces much lower loss and back reflection than mechanical splicing, so if you need a permanent joint with minimal attenuation, fusion splicing is the heftier investment you’re looking at.

Also, fusion splices are generally used with single-mode fiber while mechanical splices work with both single and multi-mode fiber. (Learn more about types of fiber optic cables and other fiber optic essentialshere.)

All things considered, mechanical splicing works well only for quick restoration and temporary connections where a somewhat notable loss is acceptable. Fusion splicing, though costlier, is far more popular as it provides the lowest insertion loss, back reflection, and the strongest joint between the fibers.

(Video) Fiber Optic Splicing Guide & Demo

How to Perform Mechanical Splicing

Now that you’re aware of what mechanical splicing is, let’s take a look at the basic steps involved in mechanical splicing.

Step #1 – Prepare the fibers

The first step is to neatly strip the fibers of its protective coatings, jackets, tubes, strength members, etc, leaving nothing but the bare fiber cores.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (5)

You’ll know if it’s done right when you see the bare fiber in the section where the cable was stripped. Also, make sure the cables are clean.

Step #2 – Cleave the fibers

After stripping your fiber optic cables, the next step is to break your cables using a fiber cleaver. Use the cleaver carefully to create a small, clean cut on the cables with ends perpendicular to the fiber axis.

Step #3 – Join the fibers mechanically

Unlike fusion splicing, you don’t need to use heat to join the fibers.

In essence, you just have to precisely position the fiber ends together in the mechanical splice unit. The index matching gel inside the equipment will do the heavy lifting for you, linking the light in the ends of your cables. If you’re using an older unit, you may have to use epoxy instead of an index matching gel to align the fibers properly.

Step #4 – Secure the united fiber

Once you’re done with these three steps, place the fibers in a splice tray and then inside a splice closure.

As such, the completed mechanical splice renders its own protection for the splice. But make sure to seal the cables carefully, as this will prevent your cables from experiencing moisture damage.

How to Perform Fusion Splicing

Fusion splicing is similar to mechanical splicing in some regards, but with one major difference — you need to use a high-tech tool known as fusion splicer. This tool is responsible for perfectly matching the fiber ends by melting and fusing them together.

Here are the steps involved in fusion splicing.

Step #1 – Strip the fibers

Before you strip fibers, add a protective sleeve to the fiber.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (6)
(Video) Free 2 Hour Fiber Optic Training

Then, as with mechanical splicing, strip the protective polymer coating around the optical fiber using a mechanical fiber stripper, until you reach the bare fiber cores. Don’t forget to clean your stripping tools before you start the process.

Step #2 – Clean and cleave the fibers

Using 99.9% isopropyl alcohol (IPA) wipe, clean the bare fiber. Do it twice, using a different part of the wipe for the second round of cleaning.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (7)

Once cleaned, avoid touching or putting the fiber into contact with any potentially contaminated surfaces or materials.

Next, use a fiber cleaver to render a clean, mirror-smooth break on the cables with ends perpendicular to the fiber axis. Using a good fiber cleaver is vital to an effective fusion splice.

Step #3 – Fuse the fibers

You are now ready to fuse the fibers together using the fusion splicer. This step involves the alignment of the fibers followed by heating to melt the fiber ends and fuse them.

Alignment can be manual or automatic depending on the type of fusion splicer you use. Once the end faces of the fiber are perfectly aligned and centered on the electrodes, the splicer unit uses an electric arc to melt the two fiber ends and permanently fuse them together.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (8)

If the fusion splicer stops the process, it may be because of any of the following issues:

  • Poor alignment of the wires on their guides.
  • The fibers are not cleaved at a perfect 90-degree angle.
  • There is some residual plastic cover or dirt on the end of the fiber.

If the fusion is successful, the splicer will estimate and report the attenuation in dB.

Step #4 – Protect the fiber

A typical fusion splice has a tensile strength between 0.5 and 1.5 lbs and will not break during normal handling. Even so, it’s a good idea to provide protection from bending and pulling forces and ensure the fiber doesn’t break during routine use.

So, after the fibers have been successfully fused together, it’s time to protect the fused fiber by either re-applying a coating or by using a splice protector.

You can use heat shrink plastic, silicone gel, or mechanical crimp protectors to secure the splice from external damage and breakage.

(Video) Fiber Optic Splicing OSP cable prep step by step

Good Splices vs. Bad Splices

To ensure quality splicing, you must visually inspect the splices you made. You’ll likely find some flaws in the splices but as long as it does not affect the optical transmission of your cables, it’s all good.

Here’s how good splices look like:

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (9)

That being said, not all splicing flaws are acceptable. If there are black spots, lines, bubbles, bulges, or shadows, rework may be required. To ensure optimal quality of transmission, never rework the splice more than twice.

Here’s how bad splices look like:

Step-by-Step Guide to Fiber Optic Cable Splicing for Integrators (10)

Best Practices to Perform Better Fiber Optic Splicing

As with anything, practice makes perfect. And knowing some fiber optic splicing best practices can go a long way in completing better splices with minimum back reflection and maximum transmission efficiency.

Here are three easy yet effective ways to perform better splicing:

#1 – Ensure Your Splicing Tools are Clean

Considering the microscopic nature of fiber optics, know that particles not visible to the naked eye could cause huge problems in terms of cable performance.

There’s no such thing as “excessive cleaning” of your fiber optic tools, and investing some effort in keeping your splicing tools immaculate will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

#2 – Use and Maintain Your Cleaver Correctly

The cleaver is the most valuable tool you need to complete effective fiber optic splicing.

For mechanical splicing, you must ensure the proper angle of end faces, otherwise, there’ll be excessive light escaping into the air gaps between the two fibers. Sure, an index matching gel will help minimize light escape, but the importance of a high-quality cleaver cannot be overlooked.

For fusion splicing, your cleaver plays an even more important role to achieve the incredible low attenuation of less than 0.1 dB.

Simply put, if you don’t maintain your cleaver, the fiber ends may not fuse together properly, resulting in high attenuation and back reflection.

The best way to clean and maintain your cleaver’s quality is to simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

(Video) Splicing a fiber drop

#3 – Set Your Fusion Parameters in a Systematic Way

Don’t start altering the fusion parameters on the splicer whenever there is a hint of a problem, as you might lose your desired setting.

Broadly speaking, fusion time and fusion current are the two main parameters whose variables can be varied to produce strong splice results. Change only one variable at a time in a methodical way until you find the right fusion parameters for your fiber type.

This story is a contribution courtesy of those at the VChung fiber optic cable company.

FAQs

How do you prepare fiber optic cable for splicing? ›

Strip fiber cable jacket.

Cut off the excess jacket. Clean off all cable gel with cable gel remover. Separate the fiber loose tubes and buffers by carefully cutting away any yarn or sheath. Leave enough of the strength member to properly secure the cable in the splice enclose.

What are the steps to making a fiber optic cable? ›

Dr. Amirthanathan Prashanthan
  1. Step 1: Create preform using Vapour-Phase Axial Deposition (VAD) method. ...
  2. Step 2: Sintering – Create purified glass perform. ...
  3. Step 3: Elongation – lengthen a glass perform. ...
  4. Step 4 – Manufacturing Cladding soot - Jacketing by Vapour-Phase Deposition Method. ...
  5. Step 5 – Drawing into Optical fiber.
15 Nov 2017

What are the 2 types of cable splicing? ›

Types of Splicing

There are 2 methods of splicing, mechanical or fusion. Both methods provide much lower insertion loss compared to fiber connectors.

What are the techniques used in splicing? ›

There are two techniques in splicing of optical fibers depending on the insertion loss, cost, and performance characteristics. They are fusion splicing and mechanical splicing. The mechanical splicing is again divided into two types such as V-grooved splicing and elastic-tube splicing.

Which method of splicing is better? ›

To summarize, fusion splicing is the preferred splicing method in today's fiber optic networks, due to the significantly improved splice performance over mechanical splicing.

When splicing fiber what is used to help make the splice stronger? ›

The two methods are fusion and mechanical splicing. Fusion splicing uses an electric arc to melt the ends of the glass fibers and fuse them together. This method is reputed to produce a mechanically stronger splice that outperforms the mechanical splice in terms of transmission loss.

How long does it take to splice a fiber optic cable? ›

A general rule of thumb is that a single splice takes about four minutes, and a 12-fiber mass fusion splice takes about eight minutes per splice, respectively. Splicing a 1728-fiber count cable (144 mass splices) would take about 19 hours of steady splicing for a ribbon cable.

What is splicing in fibre optics? ›

Simply put, fiber optic splicing involves joining two fiber optic cables together. The other, more common, method of joining fibers is called termination or connectorization.

What is fiber splicing machine? ›

OFC splicing machine is a core-to-core alignment model, used to carry out process of fusion splicing, a process of fusing or welding two fibers together usually by an electric arc.

What is splicing machine used for? ›

A fiber optic fusion splicer is a device that uses an electric arc to melt two optical fibers together at their end faces, to form a single long fiber.

What is the best tools to use when splicing wires? ›

Tools. Splice kits can include many different tools to ensure a safe joint between cables. These tools include a wire cutter, needle nose pliers, wire strippers, and electrical tape.

What are the three types of splicing tools? ›

Types of Splicing Tools
  • Fids. A fid is a mechanical tool made mainly from wood, plastic, or bone and used for creating splice in ropes. ...
  • Wire Fid. Wire fid is one of the most useful and versatile splicing tools that should be in your rope climbing gear. ...
  • Swedish Fid. ...
  • Tubular Fids. ...
  • Toss Splicing Wand. ...
  • Marline Spike.
20 May 2020

How do you clean fiber while splicing? ›

Learn How to Clean V-Grooves in a Fiber Optic Fusion Splicer - YouTube

How many types of fiber splicing are there? ›

There are two types of fiber splicing – mechanical splicing and fusion splicing.

How many types of splicing are there? ›

Two different modes of splicing have been defined, that is, constitutive splicing and alternative splicing.

What are the different types of splices? ›

There are four main types of splice joints: half lap, bevel lap, tabled, and tapered finger.

What are the two broad methods that are used in fiber splicing? ›

There are two further categories of splicing- mechanical splicing and fusion splicing. Mechanical splicing is utilized for multimode fibers, however, fusion splicing is the process that can be used for all types of fiber optic cables.

What are the three most important considerations in fiber optic installation? ›

Top 7 Considerations for Fiber Optic Cable Installation
  • Minimum Bend Radius. ...
  • Maximum Tensile Rating. ...
  • Maximum Vertical Rise. ...
  • Cable Protection. ...
  • Duct Utilization. ...
  • Preconnectorized Fiber Cable Assemblies. ...
  • Fiber Optic Cable Slack.

What type of joining technique is used for fiber optic cable? ›

Classification of Techniques Used for Optical Fiber Connection/Splicing. Optical fibers are joined either by fusion/mechanical splice, which is a permanent joint, or by connectors, which can be disengaged repeatedly.

Which heating source is most widely used in the splicing process? ›

The most widely used heating source is an electric arc. Thus, gas burner is not used in fusion splicing.

Which splice is used to connect two separate lines together? ›

A back splice is used to permanently connect two lines together.

What are the requirements of a good connector? ›

Some principal requirements of good connector design are as follows:
  • Coupling loss. The connector assembly must maintain stringent alignment tolerances to ensure low mating losses. ...
  • Interchangeability. ...
  • Ease of assembly. ...
  • Low environmental sensitivity. ...
  • Low cost and reliable construction. ...
  • Ease of connection.

What is OTDR in networking? ›

Network Cabling Contractors and Installers. An Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) is a device that tests the integrity of a fiber cable and is used for the building, certifying, maintaining, and troubleshooting fiber optic systems.

How much does a fiber splicer cost? ›

A good fusion splicer will range from $15,000 to $40,000. Nevertheless, fusion splices are cheap and typically range between $0.50 and $1.50 apiece. Mechanical splicing uses inexpensive equipment. However, the splice hardware is costly at $5 to $30 per mechanical splice.

How do they repair a fiber optic cable? ›

Fiber optic cables are repaired in the same way that they are spliced. Unlike conventional copper wire, a cut fiber cable cannot simply be twisted or crimped back together. If the fiber isn't cut but damaged, then the bad section is removed and the remaining fiber must be carefully spliced.

Why splicing is important in optical fiber? ›

Fiber optic splicing is an important method of joining two fiber optic cables together. It is a preferred solution when an available fiber cable is not sufficiently long for the required run. Besides, fiber optic splicing is designed to restore fiber optic cables. In case they are accidentally broken.

How many cores does fiber optic cable have? ›

There are three common core sizes: 9/125, 50/125, and 62.5/125. Each of those numbers stands for a measurement, and that measurement is in microns. I quickly drew a cross-section of a fiber cable to help explain all this. The red represents the core, and that's where you see your three measurements.

Can you connect two Fibre cables together? ›

Fiber optic splicing is generally the way to connect two fiber optic cables. This is for new terminations or extending and joining cables. Splicing is also designed to restore fiber optic cables when they accidentally break. In this instance, the broken cable is “spliced” back together.

What is an acceptable splice loss? ›

When it comes to mating of two splices on connectors, the acceptable fiber splicing loss is calculated to be around 0.7 to 1.5 dB per connector. In fusion splicing, the acceptable loss is reduced to around 0.1 to 0.5 dB per splice.

What is meant by splicing explain in detail? ›

Splicing is a biological process where a newly synthesized pre-mRNA is transformed into a mature mRNA. It occurs during protein synthesis. It involves the removal of non-coding sequences known as introns and then, joining the coding regions known as exons.

What is the difference between dB and dBm? ›

dB quantifies the ratio between two values, whereas dBm expresses the absolute power level. dBm is an absolute unit, whereas dB is a dimensionless unit. dBm is always relative to 1mW, while dB is expressed in watts and can be relative to other powers.

What are the 2 types of fiber optic cable? ›

There are two types of fibre optic cables – multimode and single-mode. Multimode optical fibre or OFC is capable of carrying multiple light rays (modes) at the same time as it has varying optical properties at the core. Single-mode fibre has a much smaller core size (9 microns).

What is the working principle of OTDR? ›

The predictable nature of Rayleigh scattering has been leveraged as a fundamental working principle in OTDR technology. The volume of source light energy backscattered to the detector provides a reliable indication of attenuation and signal (or optical) loss in the optical fiber link.

Is fiber optic splicing a good career? ›

As a Fiber Optic Splicer, you will assemble, splice, and polish fiber optic terminators while adhering to productivity standards. You can earn an annual average salary of $51,183 as a Fiber Optic Splicer. There is also a job growth rate of 4%, which is a good start.

How do you cut fiber optics? ›

Cutting the fiber optic filament or cable is not as hard as it might seem. It's possible to cut the thinner diameter fibers (0.25 mm – 1.00 mm) and cable with a sharp scissors. The medium diameter filaments (1.50 mm – 3.00mm ) and the fiber optic cables can be cut with a good wire or jewelers snip.

Where does splicing occur? ›

Splicing occurs in the nucleus before the RNA migrates to the cytoplasm. Once splicing is complete, the mature mRNA (containing uninterrupted coding information), is transported to the cytoplasm where ribosomes translate the mRNA into protein.

What type of joining technique is used for fiber optic cables? ›

Classification of Techniques Used for Optical Fiber Connection/Splicing. Optical fibers are joined either by fusion/mechanical splice, which is a permanent joint, or by connectors, which can be disengaged repeatedly.

What are the three most important considerations in fiber optic installation? ›

Top 7 Considerations for Fiber Optic Cable Installation
  • Minimum Bend Radius. ...
  • Maximum Tensile Rating. ...
  • Maximum Vertical Rise. ...
  • Cable Protection. ...
  • Duct Utilization. ...
  • Preconnectorized Fiber Cable Assemblies. ...
  • Fiber Optic Cable Slack.

How do you splice Internet cable? ›

How To Splice an Ethernet Cable By Twisting The Wires Together

How do you put the ends on a fiber optic cable? ›

Terminating Fiber Optic Cable - YouTube

How many types of fiber splicing are there? ›

There are two types of fiber splicing – mechanical splicing and fusion splicing.

How many types of splicing are there? ›

Two different modes of splicing have been defined, that is, constitutive splicing and alternative splicing.

What is the meaning of OTDR? ›

An Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) is a device that tests the integrity of a fiber cable and is used for the building, certifying, maintaining, and troubleshooting fiber optic systems.

What are the best practices when working with Fibre optic? ›

Here are some of the best practices for handling fiber optic cables.
  • Leave Cable in a Safe Space. Leave your cable boxes in a safe place until your team is ready to use them. ...
  • Keep the Ends Protected. ...
  • Don't Pinch the Fiber.
19 Apr 2018

What are two critical factors for a successful installation of fiber optic cable? ›

What are two critical factors for a successful installation of fiber-optic cable? Cable pulling tension and bend radius. What is required of mechanical splices used for acceptance testing? A mechanical splice used for acceptance testing should be simple to use and reusable.

How do I prepare for Fibre optic installation? ›

If your ISP doesn't require a technician to set up your connection, these are the steps to self-install fiber internet:
  1. Locate your fiber network terminal.
  2. Connect the fiber terminal to the network box.
  3. Plug in your network box.
  4. Connect your device to the network box.
  5. Set up your home Wi-Fi network.
24 Jan 2022

How do I connect a network cable? ›

It's really easy to connect an Ethernet cable and set up an Ethernet connection between your computer and your hub. Simply plug one end of your Ethernet cable into your computer and the other into one of your hub's Ethernet ports. That's it, you can now enjoy fast, reliable internet.

How do I connect Internet wires? ›

To connect it to your computer, plug one end of an Ethernet cable into the Ethernet or LAN port on the back of your modem, then plug the other end into the Ethernet port on the back of your computer. Your modem should come with an Ethernet cable, but any old Ethernet cable will do.

How do you splice RJ45? ›

How to Crimp Cat5 / Cat6 Network Patch Cables (RJ45 plugs) - YouTube

How are Fibre optic cables spliced and terminated? ›

Fusion splicing achieves fiber optic termination with heat generated by an electric arc, which is also called arc fusion. Different from mechanical splicing, fusion splicing requires a fusion splicer, indicating it's more expensive.

What are two types of optical fiber terminations? ›

There are two types of fiber terminations: connector and splicing.

How do you test a fiber optic cable? ›

Send a light signal into the cable. While you're doing this, watch the other end of the cable closely. If light is detectable in the fiber core, this means there are no breaks in the fiber, and that your cable is fit for use.

Videos

1. The Installation of Aerial ADSS and Overlashed Fiber Optic Cable
(MWC1951)
2. AWESOME, WATCH THESE PRO TECHNICIANS PREPARE TO LAY FIBER OPTIC CABLES UNDERGROUND
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3. Fiber optic cables: How they work
(engineerguy)
4. Cleerline SSF - Fiber Optics Basics for A/V Integrators July 27th, 2021
(Audio Video Export)
5. Pat gives an Introduction to Fiber Optic Technology
(AFL)
6. Optical fiber cables, how do they work? | ICT #3
(Lesics)

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