Welding of optical fibres
The concept of optical fibre in a nutshell
Fibre optic technology has rapidly gained popularity and is of great interest to the technology industry in Poland. One may ask what exactly is optical fibre? It is a transparent wire made of glass fibre, which is used to transmit information using a laser or LED diode, resulting in an enormous speed of transmission. The technology is used in telecommunications, cable TV and even medicine. Fibre-optic Internet is currently the most sought-after connection, incomparable to the Internet over conventional cable. It is clear that when a technology dominates, there is an increasing demand for services provided in this area, such as the construction of fibre-optic networks or their welding.
What is fibre optic welding?
Welding of optical fibres it is nothing but joining them. This process requires great precision and extensive experience. Before starting the welding itself, it is necessary to carry out basic activities. The first is to prepare the necessary length of the optical fiber. The next step is to prepare a joint or a switchboard into which we insert the optical fiber. When we have measured and cleaned optical fibers, put on a sheath, cut the fibers, and then introduce them to the welder, completing the preparation process. Performing this process allows you to create a weld.
There are two basic techniques for welding optical fibres:
- Mechanical welding
This method is carried out without the use of a welding machine. The whole process requires the welder to have only tools such as: a guillotine for cutting, cable shears, a stripper to remove the coating from the fibres and dustless wipes. It's also worth opting for a visual damage locator for more precise weld parameters, but it's not an essential tool. It is immediately apparent that this is a fairly cheap type of welding, but it has its drawbacks, which are quite significant. A weld made without the use of a welding machine is characterised by a decidedly lower quality of workmanship, after a longer period of use it may lose its parameters, which will cause its work to stop. This means in practice that this method gives short-term results.
- Thermal welding
To use this method, it is necessary to have a suitable welding machine. With its help, a so-called electric arc is created. This is done by melting the optical fibers, which contributes to their bonding. This method is very precise and allows to obtain a satisfactory connection effect. However, the relatively high price of a professional welder, reaching even tens of thousands of zlotys, may discourage you from using it. It is true that you can get lower-class equipment, but let's be honest, it is obvious that it will be of lower quality and will allow us to perform only simple installations. The more advanced ones will require the use of better equipment. However, it is worth noting that this method is characterized by a much faster working time and better parameters than in the case of using the mechanical method mentioned above.
Which welding machine to choose? Types and maintenance
Currently, we have access to a large number of fiber optic splicers. They can differ in many respects, starting with parameters and ending with the price. Choosing the right equipment may not be as easy as it seems. Each welder can look for a model with completely different parameters, so you should precisely specify what the welder will be used for.
Fibre optic welders can be grouped according to the type of centring. Thus, we distinguish between:
- Welders centering the fiber mantle - it is the cheapest type of welding machine, but it requires the use of fibers of appropriate quality. The use of this type of equipment carries the risk of increasing the attenuation of the weld, as well as the possibility of unsuccessful execution of the entire process.
- Centering welders actively - this type of equipment allows for much lower attenuation of the weld, also when using completely different types of fibers.
- Centering welders to the geometric core - here we already have contact with a much more precise execution than in the case of the welding machines described above. Precision and quality result from the option that this device has, namely it is able to recognize the type of fibers automatically. The fibers are arranged perfectly to the real core. This is possible thanks to the greater number of built-in motors.
It is obvious that by spending a considerable amount on the purchase of a welder, we want it to serve us as long as possible. Therefore, having the appropriate equipment, we must not forget about its subsequent maintenance. An important aspect to pay attention to are the electrodes. It is recommended to clean them on average every 1000 welds, and they should be replaced every 5,000,000. It is also important to ensure that the electrodes are not over-tightened during assembly. The elements that require constant cleaning are also the lenses (and their area) and v-grooves. The latter are best cleaned with alcohol. On the other hand, the fiber holder can be cleaned with a brush.
Failure to maintain the equipment properly results in the risk of faulty welding or equipment failure.
Price of fibre optic welding
Welding optical fibers is not the cheapest service. As you know, practicing this profession requires a large financial contribution on the part of installers (welders). Apart from the capital invested by the employee, his irreplaceable skills are also important. The fitter's experience and precision in execution can significantly increase the price. The cost of the service also includes the number of fibers to be welded.