What is a fusion splicer?
Since the widespread use of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH)*1 data communication services began in Japan ahead of other countries, optical fiber cables have been installed for everyday applications such as the Internet, TV sets and telephones, enabling fast and high-capacity data transmission.
Nowadays, optical fiber networks are rapidly being constructed on a global scale. Fusion splicers are extremely useful where optical fiber is installed for connecting the backbone and FTTH networks. The splicers also perform well in optical communication device assembly plants.
A fusion splicer is a device that fuses and joins optical fiber cores by applying heat of about 1,800°C generated by electrical discharge.
Sumitomo Electric has distributed small-sized fusion splicers inside and outside Japan that have gained wide acceptance. Many engineers select Sumitomo Electric fusion splicers. One example is the WorldSkills Competition*2 held this August in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where a competitor using our fusion splicer won a gold medal.
Features of Sumitomo Electric products
Fusion splicers from Sumitomo Electric are small and light. In addition, they are constructed to be dust- and drip-proof for outdoor applications.
In particular, the Type-201 series come in the world's smallest and lightest compact body. The small size [76 (H) × 110 (W) × 140 (D) mm] is suitable for one-handed operation, weighing only 770 g, nearly half the weight as their predecessors. The Type-201 series improves efficiency in limited work spaces and are easy to operate even for unexperienced workers. These fusion splicers are effective for optical fiber cable installation between utility poles, as well as to the home.
The Type-71C+ incorporates a newly developed high-power microscope to ensure improved image processing accuracy. This is intended to minimize transmission loss at the joint. Moreover, the Type-71C+ self-identifies optical fiber types and provides optimal fusion-splicing conditions for stable joining performance. Furthermore, this product reduces the time required for fusion and reinforcement by half from its predecessor.
Sumitomo Electric provides a variety of fusion splicers to meet specific customer needs.
What difficulties did you face in developing the fusion splicers?
The point was to reduce the size and the weight as much as possible while maintaining or improving the functionality of previous models. I had difficulty finding the optimal shape and material for each part.
I repeatedly interviewed workers who actually used the device to determine the exterior forms of these fusion splicers, pursuing a form that is easy to hold and handle and also reliable for high-level work. It was difficult to decide how to realize various views and feedback, and then incorporate these into a final product.
These new models offer innovative features such as a touch screen, help video, and remote maintenance. These novel attempts to improve workability and ease of operation took more time in device testing than before.
What response have you had from customers?
We developed the Type-201 series as optimal fusion splicers for FTTH installation work. They were designed to be small and light and like a tool rather than a system because splicing would be carried out on a ladder or utility pole or in a service user's house. Being the world's smallest and lightest, and with support features for unexperienced workers, the series has been esteemed by our customers as being ready for use by every worker and easy to handle due to its compact and lightweight design.
The Type-71C+ is the highest-end model of Sumitomo Electric's fusion splicer lineup. It is principally used when installing backbone optical fiber networks, which must meet high reliability requirements. As such, the Type-71C+ has been well-received by customers within and outside Japan where optical fiber is being rapidly introduced.