Tip of the Week – 29 July 2013

Tip of the Week – The Mechanical Splice

Often overlooked but can be very helpful is the simple mechanical splice. It is a small device that mechanically secures two optical fibers together. It has low insertion loss (IL), typically less than 0.2 dB, and is available for both single mode and multimode fibers.

The main advantage of this technology is that you do not need to use an expensive and complex fusion splicer to splice two fibers together. A mechanical splice can be completed quickly by almost anyone with a limited amount of training/practice. It is ideal for quick and temporary cable repairs when the fusion splice team cannot attend a cable cut immediately. It can also be used for permanent splices at locations where optical budgets are not a significant concern, such as with short fiber links and multimode fiber links. The 0.2 dB added insertion loss per splice (2 splices normally required to repair a cut cable), may not significantly affect the operating budget of short spans.

The mechanical splicing procedure is simple. Strip both ends of the both fiber cables as per mechanical splice instructions to expose the individual fibers. You then need to expose a short length of bare fiber (without the coating), typically a few inches, of both cables. Cleave the fiber ends. Use a good quality cleaver it can make a big difference with insertion loss. Then insert each cleaved fiber end into the mechanical splice. The mechanical splice is typically permanent, once you insert the fiber ends you cannot remove them. However reusable mechanical splices are available, but they may have worst insertion loss.

Additional Notes
Fusion splice insertion loss should never be above 0.1 dB and typically are below 0.05 dB.
Mechanical splices may not fit into fusion splice trays. Likely will need mechanical splice tray to hold splices.
A number of companies sell this product including a great Minnesota company called 3M with product called Fibrlok, also Corning with CamSplice, here are the URLs
http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/NA_Communication_Technologies/home/Products/?N=7569748&rt=r3

http://catalog2.corning.com/CorningCableSystems/en-GB/catalog/MasterProduct.aspx?cid=mechanical_splices_web&pid=17929

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