Mechanical Splicing vs. Fusion Splicing

Knowledge of splicing technology is essential for companies or fiber optic technicians involved in the telecommunication field. To put it simply, fiber optic splicing involves joining two fibers together under the influence of heat. There are two preferred types of splicing methods: fusion splicing and mechanical splicing. Understanding the pros and cons of each splicing method is extremely important when making an educated decision on which splicing method to use. If you are beginning to splice fiber, you might want to have a look at this article. I bet you will get your answer at the end of it.

Mechanical Splicing

Mechanical splicing is simply aligned and designed to hold in place by a self-contained assembly. Two fibers are not permanently joined, just precisely held together enabling light to pass from one fiber into the other. (Typical loss: 0.3 dB)

Fusion Splicing

In fusion splicing, a machine is used to precisely align the two fiber ends together, then the glass ends are “fused” or “welded” together using some type of heat or electric arc. This produces a continuous connection between the fibers enabling very low loss light transmission. (Typical loss: 0.1 dB). The following image shows a fusion splicer of FS.COM.

fusion splicer

Mechanical Splicing vs. Fusion Splicing

Although mechanical splicing and fusion splicing both accomplish the same thing—joining two fibers together to enable optical signals to pass through from one fiber to the others, they have great differences that contractors need to weigh when considering which one is the right choice.

The typical factor that customers would consider when choosing one method over the other is economic. Mechanical splicing has a low initial investment ($1,000 – $2,000) but costs more per splice ($12 – $40 each). Fusion splicing, on the other hand, is lower ($0.50 – $1.50 each), the initial investment is much higher ($15,000 – $50,000 depending on the accuracy and features of the fusion splicer machine being purchased). Therefore, for contractors who seldom splice, mechanical splicing is the inexpensive option. As the frequency of splicing increases, users of mechanical splicing will use more money since a mechanical splice is a device left with the customer while a fusion splicer is a tool that remains in the contractor’s toolkit. The picture below shows the screenshot of the mechanical splicing.

Mechanical Splicing

Next, as for the performance of each splicing method, mechanical splicing generally has a higher loss and greater reflectance than fusion splices because the fiber is crimped to hold them in place, do not have good fiber retention or pull-out strength. The advantages of fusion splicing are primarily lower loss and better reflectance performance. Fusion splicing is mainly used with single mode fiber, while mechanical splicing work with both single and multimode fiber.

What’s more, compared to fusion splicing, mechanical splicing is normally used when splices need to be made quickly and easily. Mechanical fiber optic splicing usually takes as little as five minutes to make, while fusion splicing takes several minutes to set up, even if only one splice is required.

In general, many telecommunication companies invest in fusion splicing for outdoor, long-haul and high-performance single mode networks. For indoor transmission cables, one usually uses mechanical splicing instead of the expensive fusion splicers. Fusion splicing is also used in factories for making stable fiber optic devices such as fiber lasers and amplifiers.

After going through this passage, you must have already made up your mind. FS.COM offers a complete line of fiber optic splicing products, like fusion splicers, cleavers, and fusion splicing assemblies (cleaver blade, battery, electrodes, battery charge cord, power supply, protection sleeves and so on). You are welcomed to contact us for any problems you might meet when choosing the suitable fiber splicing method.

Related Article: Cost Comparison: Fusion Splicing Versus Pre-terminated System

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