Your clients or bosses have tasked you with fusion splicing fiber optic cable. Or the job in hand involves splicing and terminating various types of fiber optic connectors. But your project specifications demand the use of fusion splicing to join or terminate the fibers while minimizing loss and reflectance. What kind of splicer machine are you going to use to obtain a high quality splice?

Let's briefly introduce fusion splicing before assessing the various options available to you as a fiber optic technician: It's an automated process that relies on an electric arc or heat to weld (or fuse) two optical fibers, facilitating the continuous transmission of light over long or short distances. The technique also comes in handy for:

• The restoration of accidentally severed underground fiber optic cables
• The fusion of connectorized pigtails
• Fiber termination with splice on connectors

But why does choosing the right fusion splicer matter?

Fusion splicing machines have a built-in integrated system of internal processors, motors, and microprocessors that dictate the correct alignment of fibers. But these machines differ in the way they align fibers during fusion - a difference that can impact alignment precision and splicing performance.

If you don't get a correct alignment, you're going to have fiber optic losses. In other words, there'll be an impediment to data transmission at the point of the fusion splice. But your clients don't want that.

So you have to pick the right splicer to fuse any two fibers so precisely that light travels through the medium with near zero loss.

Selecting a Splicer Based on Alignment Method

Here are your options:

Shop the Fitel S179 Core Alignment Splicer

Core Alignment Splicer

Use a core alignment splicer to get the best precision levels, especially when working with singlemode fiber, considering it has a very small core diameter. The average splice loss for this technique is 0.02 dB, which is comparatively low.

You'll find it tricky to get an ideal core-to-core alignment when splicing a new fiber optic cable to an older one. That's usually because of the legacy fiber's irregular core geometry and concentricity. You may encounter a similar problem when splicing any two fibers from different manufacturers.

The good thing is that a core alignment splicer delivers a high precision alignment in most scenarios involving inconsistent fiber core geometries. Likewise, this alignment technique is appropriate for splicing multimode fiber, especially to optimize performance.

Typically, a core alignment splicer employs optical technology (including cameras) to help minimize splice loss during the fiber fusion process. After capturing digital images of the two fibers, a computer program measures and tracks positions of both cores. The system then aligns the cores along the X, Y, and Z axes. The splicer’s automated system controls core positioning to enhance splicing performance.

Shop the AFL Fujikura 41s Fusion Splicer

Cladding Alignment Splicer

Also known as fixed-groove splicing, the technique involves aligning the fiber cores along a single axis (inward and outward). The splicer has embedded cameras to guide the automated fusion process.

A core alignment splicer directly moves the core of the optical fiber strands to achieve a perfect alignment during splicing. But with the cladding alignment splicer, you're counting on the manufacturer of the fiber to have made the fiber with the core perfectly concentric in the strand. Any incorrect pre-alignment of the outer surfaces lends itself to poor splicing performance and higher splice losses.

This method is less expensive, and it's ideal for ribbon splicing applications and shorter fiber links. The average splice loss for cladding alignment is 0.05 dB.

Shop the Sumitomo Type Q101VS Active Clad Alignment Splicer

Active Groove Splicer

These are types of cladding alignment splicers that have a moving V groove. The technique lets you join optical fibers with a more precise cladding to cladding alignment. This method results in lower splice losses than possible using a fixed-groove splicer.

You can use an active-groove splicer in most fiber to the home (FTTH) applications, including singlemode splicing, thanks to the device's high alignment accuracy. The technique is also ideal for fusion splicing in the manufacture of optical parts.

Compatibility with Splice on Connectors (SOCs)

Compatibility is an important consideration when you're using a fusion splicer to terminate fiber with Splice on Connectors. It guarantees a low loss and reliable, steady connection.

The right fusion SOC offers you the following perks during Fiber To The x (FTTx) or termination application:

Simplicity: It can eliminate the need to bring a lot of expensive splice management accessories to your field termination work. No splice trays or enclosures are necessary here. Also, the automated process doesn't involve the use of crimpers, adhesives, or polish. It's simplified field installation in its entirety.

Improved installation performance: Automation means no crimping or other mechanical termination operations that increase the chances of installer error occurring. High quality termination results in low return loss when transmitting data over optical networks.

Be sure to check with the manufacturer of any fusion splicer you're considering buying to determine whether it's compatible with your preferred splice on connector.

Considering the Fiber Count Factor

There are two main types of fusion splicers in the market today: single fiber and mass (ribbon) splicers. Take your specific splicing needs into consideration when choosing what to buy.

So make a choice based on the fiber count in question.

Single Fiber Fusion Splicer

Shop the AFL 70s Fusion Splicer

Choose this machine if you're splicing one fiber at a time. Here, you'll be stripping, cleaning, cleaving, and then inserting a single fiber into a holder in the top of the splicer before beginning the fusion process.

With some of the latest single splicer models in the market, the splicing process takes only several seconds. The equipment may also provide an attenuation estimate, although only an optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) can give an accurate value.

Ribbon Fusion Splicing

This machine splices fiber optic cables one ribbon (with up to 12 fibers) at a time. It's a very efficient fusion splicing system, especially if you're working with a high fiber count cable. Typically, you may require specialized tools to strip the ribbon (such as by heating) before cleaving all fibers in it at once.


Fusion splicing is the most reliable and low loss approach to permanently joining two optical fibers. But you have to pick the right splicer for your specific needs to optimize splicing performance. So consider these main factors before buying equipment for the job in hand:

• Fiber alignment technique (active groove, cladding, and core alignment splicing machines)
• Compatibility with splice on connectors for fiber termination
• Fiber count

Are you looking to buy a high performance fiber optic fusion splicer? At Fiber Instrument Sales, we offer an extensive inventory of fiber optic equipment. Visit our website to take a splicer "product tour" right away!

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