FAQ: Splicing Collapsible Ribbon

As collapsible ribbon grows in popularity, AFL continues to receive inquiries concerning this new trend and the best practices when it comes to splicing collapsible ribbon. To address some of the frequently asked questions, we reached out to our splicing experts, Lucas Mays, Product Manager of Fusion Splicers and Accessories, and Doug Duke, Senior Applications and Development Engineer in Splicing Engineering, to get the answers.


Photo Caption: Pictured above is Fujikura's SpiderWeb Ribbon® (SWR®), which is our version of collapsible ribbon.

 

What is collapsible ribbon?
Collapsible ribbon is made up of optical fibers that are intermittently bound together to form a “web” like pattern when the ribbon is spread apart. This unique bonding method allows it to be easily handpicked apart for single fiber situations or maintain its ribbon-like nature for mass fusion splicing and termination.

How many strands can you splice at a time when using collapsible ribbon?
You can splice anywhere from two to 16 fibers at once. By contrast, single fibers are only capable of splicing one fiber at a time. Although splicing up to 16 fibers is possible with ribbon, the most common count is 12 fibers since most optical networks are built around that.

What is the maximum number of burns per electrode?
Electrode life is greater with ribbon technology. A ribbon splicer, such as AFL’s 90R Fusion Splicer, is capable of approximately 1,500 burns per electrode. Single fiber splicing, on the other hand, is capable of only 5,000 burns per electrode. However, since you’re managing 12 fibers per burn when operating a ribbon splicer, the number of burns is really 1,500 burns by 12 fibers, which results in more splices per electrode life.

What are the advantages of using collapsible ribbon over single fiber?
Ribbon technology has become increasingly popular among technicians due to its time and cost saving benefits. Since it allows you to splice up to 16 fibers at once, it’s a more efficient way of splicing than using single fiber, resulting in lower installation time and labor cost. Its dry, gel-free construction also contributes to its time-saving benefits because it eliminates the extra time and hassle of dealing with gel.
 
What is the diameter of a collapsible 12 fiber ribbon?
Diameter of the individual fibers used in the collapsible ribbon can vary. The most common coating diameter is 250 µm as this has been the standard for many years, but 200 µm is continuing to rise in prevalence. Other coating diameters can be used; specifically, 160 µm coated 80 µm cladding fibers are used in ribbons for certain specialty manufacturing applications and could make their way into telecom in the future.

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