Sunday, November 04, 2012

Cladding vs Core Alignment fusion splicers

For seven years we've been using Tritec Fase II fusion splicers; we have two kits composing the splicers themselves (camera or microscope inspection), clevers and finishing ovens for the splice-protectors. If you're in the business of bespoke fibre then fusion splicing really is the only way to go as you get superior performance in termination and you can base infrastructure entirely on loose-tube multi-core cable (tight-buffered cable is really only suitable for use within cabinets or at most between cabinets - it isn't man enough for running in voids and risers).

Anyway, the Tritecs have been solid workhorses clocking up many thousands of terminations between them and we've been entirely happy. In 2004 and then again in 2007 when we upgraded them they were the best sub £10k machines.
The only thing you could criticise them for is that they are "cladding alignment splicers" - they rely on the diameter of the cladding being correct (125 microns, fact fans!) and the core being correctly positioned within the fibre. The guys at Tritec tell me this is a non-problem as contemporary fibre optic stock is always spot on - ten years ago, not so much, but for now it's a problem that's solved and it is fair to say we have seen very little badly made fibre since we started; and that's many hundreds of kilometers of fibre cable!
 

The other side of the coin is the newer style of fibre machines called "core alignment splicers" where two cameras set at 90 degrees examine the cleaved ends of the fibres  and the software dynamically aligned the ends and dried the splicing arc. The machine is then able to illuminate the join and make an estimation of the loss across the join. Fujikoura were the pioneers in this field in the mid-noughties with machines like the FSM-series costing more than £30k - clearly you'd have to do a lot of fibre work to pay off one of those! Guys who use both types a lot reckon that core-alignment machines allow you to work about twice as fast as the machine produces a much greater consistency of good splices and doesn't rely on the operator to maintain precise splice measurements. Ask any wireman about the 'fibre-blindness' that sets in around 15:00 each day; you just need to walk away and forget about squinting down a microscope for an hour or so; these are very small measurements after all!

So, we've just splashed out on an INNO IFS-10 which gets really good crits when compared to the current FSM-60 machine from Fujikura. We're going to take it on a big job we're just starting and so I'll get a good feel for it.

Here is an excellent "torture test" video of the machine in action.


7 comments:

Tom said...

Now that you have had this device for a while has it met your expectations?

Phil Crawley said...

Yes, we estimate we can finish a 24-core multi in around half the time than we could using the old cladding-alignment machine.
Of course it doesn't speed the preparation of the fibre but it does seems that you splice a lot quicker and bad joins are almost unknown. It's also a lot more portable so there's not so much breaking the machine down and re-assembling it when you move between rooms.
We think we've probably covered the cost of it in the time we've saved on the first big job we've used it for; fourteen patch panels and seventy rooms (both single and multi-mode loose tube cable).

Tom said...

Thanks Phil.

Virginia Lawrence said...

Interesting post. I've been researching fusion splicers for a little while now, just trying to figure out what they even are. I'm afraid I still don't quite understand them. But this is at least helpful! :)

Phil Crawley said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0H9wvkRyig

tyleragent said...

Thanks for the post, and I don't know that much about fusion splicers. So if anyone has any information or tips they could offer then that would be great.

Phil Crawley said...

http://philtechnicalblog.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/fibre