Fusion or Mechanical: Which Is the Best Splicing Method?

When splicing together two lengths of fiber optic cabling, you have to choose between the two known methods – fusion splicing and mechanical splicing – which both essentially produce the same result – a secure connection between two formerly separate lengths of fiber.

However, how do you choose between them? Is one method better than the other? Well, in this article, we take a closer look at both, to provide some clarity on the subject. By reading to the end, you’ll know what the pros and cons are of each, how each connection is created and you’ll be in a better position to make a considered decision.

So, without any further delay, let’s begin.

Defining Mechanical & Fusion Splicing

The ultimate goal of cable splicing is to create a secure connection between two or more sections of fiber in a way that allows the optical signal to pass through with minimal loss. As we mentioned already, both mechanical and fusion splicing achieve this goal, but they do so in very different ways.

Fusion Splicing

Firstly, fusion splicing involves melting the two sections of fiber permanently together. This is achieved with an electrical device aptly known as a fusion splicer, and it’s something that not only melts the two parts together with an electric arc, but it is also able to align the fiber to create a good connection precisely.

Mechanical Splicing

One of the main differences with mechanical splicing is that it doesn’t permanently join the fibers together, instead of locking and aligning the pieces together with a screw mechanism. This method requires no heat or electricity at all.

The Fusion Splicing Steps

With both mechanical and fusion splicing techniques, there are four distinct steps to the process. The first two steps for each are almost identical, but the final two are where the differences lie.
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Fusion Splicing Step 1 – Preparation

To prepare the fiber for splicing, you need to strip away the jacket or sheath that surrounds the internal glass fiber. You’ll be left with bare glass when you’re finished, which should then be cleaned with an alcoholic wipe.

Fusion Splicing Step 2 – Cleaving

The next step involves cleaving the fiber, which shouldn’t be confused with cutting. Cleaving means that the fiber should be lightly scored and then flexed until it naturally breaks. To create a sound connection, you need a good, clean, smooth cleave that’s perpendicular to the fiber it’s being connected to in the fusion splicer.

Good Cleave Bad CleaveFusion Splicing Step 3 – Aligning & Fusing

Next, you’ll be going through the aligning and fusing steps which involves positioning each cleaved fiber in place and fused. In most fusion-splicing machines, there’s a magnifying window or viewer that allows the fiber ends to be precisely positioned more easily. Exact positioning is the aim so that the light can pass through with minimal distortion, reflection or loss of signal. Once the correct alignment is achieved, the two ends of the fiber are melted together with a high-voltage electric arc.

Fusion Splicing Step 4 – Fiber Protection

The new fiber connection now needs to be protected, so that its integrity is maintained when it’s handled. Fusion splices typically have a tensile strength of around 0.5-1.51lbs and aren’t damaged by day to day handling. However, joins still need to be protected against bending and pulling forces that occur when they’re moved around.

Protection is typically achieved by placing a splice closure around the connection, which is then heat shrunk into place.

The Mechanical Splicing Steps

We’ll skip to step three at this point, as step one and two are the same as with fusion splicing.

Mechanical Splicing Step 3 – Joining the Fibers

Unlike with fusion splicing, you’re not permanently connecting the fiber ends together, so it requires no heat. The equipment used for mechanical splicing contains an index matching gel, which helps to match the index of refraction of the fiber cores. This helps to lower the loss of the connection.

Mechanical Splicing Step 4 – Fiber Protection

A separate step isn’t strictly necessary for fiber protection with mechanical splicing, as the mechanical splicer is a protector in itself and does so automatically.

Choosing Between the Two

The factors that will determine which of the two methods you use will boil down to performance and cost. While there’s a higher initial outlay for fusion splicing equipment, the value of each splice tends to be much lower than mechanical splicing. If you do much splicing, then the fusion method can work out less expensive in the long term, but if you don’t, then mechanical splicing comes into its own.


Insertion loss (loss of signal power) is higher with mechanical splicing at around 0.2bB-0.75bB, and this is because the fibers are technically just aligned and not connected physically. Insertion loss with fusion splicing is typically less than 0.05dB – primarily because the physical connection offers a more permanent, exacting connection.


Mostly, the benefits of fusion splicing over mechanical splicing are improved reflectance performance, and lower loss, which is why many Community Access Television (CATV) and telecommunication companies choose to use it for their long haul networks.

However, these same companies may use a combination of both methods in their local cable runs, with fusion splicing being applied in networks that use analog video signals that call for minimal reflection. Mechanical splicing is often the preferred choice when a signal loss is not such a significant concern – something that can be said for the majority of LAN applications.

It would seem that if initial cost was not a consideration, the fusion method is far superior regarding performance, protection and per splice expense, so there’s not much of a debate to be had about which is best. However, when a minor signal loss isn’t a big issue, then mechanical splicing is a more than a viable option – so long as the amount of connections being created isn’t excessively high, making the per splice cost prohibitive.

Network Cabling Tidy Up

spaghetti network

If you are supporting this network, how you think about this?

Simple question : Where do i start for making this look better?

Advance question(answer if in the mood) : tools and practices to map it from the beggining and document the mappings.

Reason #1: To Maintain Efficiency

The more disorganized the telecom cables are, the harder it is to make changes, troubleshoot problems, and upgrade equipment. If patch cables are a tangled mess and hanging in front of equipment, then accessing the equipment is much more difficult when something needs to be added or repaired. It also makes things more difficult in case a workstation cable needs to be troubleshot or new cables need to be added to the telecom room. All of this just wastes time and resources that could be better spent on tasks that are more critical to the organization.

Reason #2: To Improve Network Performance and Stability

The messier the data cables are, the more likely it is that equipment connections can become loose, disconnected or damaged when performing routine maintenance. It is also likely that some of the cables and connections are of poor quality, which can contribute to network outages or decreased performance.

A dangling mess of cables in front of equipment can also impede the circulation of air and cause switches, servers, or other active equipment to work harder and potentially overheat.

Furthermore, when performing moves, adds, and changes (MAC) work, having messy and disorganized data cables increases the risk of someone mistakenly disconnecting or even causing permanent damage to a vital piece of equipment.

Let’s face it, most people don’t really care until they start to feel the impacts themselves—in the form of slower e`mail, garbled phone conversations, intermittent or unplanned network outages, or slow Internet. Each of these things are a nuisance at best—but for most organizations, it could severely impact employee productivity and affect the bottom line. For other organizations, such as financial institutions and hospitals, these outages could pose a more serious threat and have a significant impact on the people those organizations serve.

Reason #3: To Reduce the Risk of Electrical Fire

In a messy, disorganized telecom room, electrical connections to active equipment will likely be a similar mess. It’s a rare case when the network patch cables are a complete mess but the power cords are properly organized and connected. The “daisy-chaining” of extension cords and power strips can easily overload an electrical outlet, which in extreme cases could cause electrical sparking or overheating that may ignite a fire.

Performing a telecom room cleanup will help reveal improperly-connected power cords and allow for the proper distribution of power to critical equipment—reducing the risk of fires and accidental power outages.

Reason #4: To Maintain a Professional Appearance

Appearances matter to employees, customers, and visitors—a clean, tidy, and organized space provides a positive impression at every level. For this reason, much attention is given to the design and layout of the overall office space, furnishings and especially the reception area.

A clean work area is one that employees can be proud of and be more inclined to take extra care to keep neat and organized. It also projects a professional image for visiting clients or other guests.

Although most clients, visitors and even employees may not see or be exposed to the telecom room, the same principles apply. A messy and disorganized telecom room can be misunderstood as being a reflection of the entire organization and could impact the organization’s ability to recruit or retain qualified IT personnel.

A side benefit of cleaning up telecom room cabling is that it makes things much easier to clean and maintain—which helps improve the appearance, performance and reduce fire hazards.

Common network cabling problems


As with many business technologies, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution to small- and medium-sized businesses’ (SMBs) networking needs. However, there is one thing that holds true for all networking infrastructures: A highly efficient, well-functioning network relies on a well-structured cabling system.

If your SMB has been experiencing slow internet connections or total connectivity loss, bringing your business to a grinding halt, you may have improper cabling to thank. And since network issues are some of the biggest productivity killers in any organization, it’s a no-brainer that you should partner with a reliable managed services provider (MSP) to handle your structured cabling problems, which includes the following:

Your cabling does not meet standards

Your network’s cabling must meet the performance standards set by the Electronic Industries Association (EIA) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). Most manufacturers meet these requirements, but there are some that exceed minimum standards, providing consumers with cabling that can support their bandwidth needs for years.

Your network’s inefficiency may be caused by cables that don’t comply with the latest EIA/TIA standards. If your cables aren’t Category 6 and 6A (Cat 6 and 6A), which have been increasingly used in recent years, then that’s probably why your network is underperforming. Cat 6 cables can support bandwidths of up to 250 megahertz (Mhz), while Cat 6A can support up to 500 MHz.

Additionally, it may be that your cables are made of copper clad aluminum (CCA) rather than solid copper. While definitely cheaper, CCA cables are not compliant with EIA/TIA standards. They also oxidize and corrode easily, which causes failed terminations that lead to connectivity issues.

Your cabling is outdated

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that old cables, particularly your backbone cable, can cause network problems. The backbone cable connects your network to the internet, bringing in signals from your internet service provider to all users on your network. If it’s been five or more years since it was installed, it most likely doesn’t meet current bandwidth standards, causing bottlenecks and sluggishness. And if you have a lot of users, or if they access bandwidth-heavy apps or websites, these problems may be exacerbated and lead to complete downtime.

The cables and connectors are not compatible

Using different components from different manufacturers may cause compatibility issues that are sure to affect your network’s performance. This is especially true if they weren’t designed and manufactured to work with one another. You may also experience glitches in your network if you use cables and connectors with different performance levels. Even the highest-quality cables can’t deliver the performance level it promises if the plugs and jacks they’re connected with can’t support them.

The patch cords are of poor quality

Many SMBs operate on tight budgets and are always looking for ways to save a buck. But patch cords for your network aren’t something to skimp on. Just like copper clad aluminum cables, cheap patch cords can save you money, but they may not be manufactured according to EIA/TIA standards and cause performance problems down the road. Repairing or replacing them also costs a lot, so you may end up spending more money than if you’ve had high-quality patch cords installed in the first place.

The cables are not properly installed

Improper installation, whether it’s due to your IT guy’s lack of training or an honest mistake, can result in even more expensive, time-consuming network reliability issues in the long run. One common installation mistake to look out for is running data cables parallel to electrical wiring. The magnetic field generated in electric wiring can interrupt the signals in data cables, crippling network performance.

Proper cabling is key to a reliable, efficient network. Nye Technical Services (NTS) will provide you with the comprehensive cabling services and networking solutions you need to achieve just that. Since 2009, NTS has been trusted by SMBs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and New York to provide top-of-the-line cabling and networking services at affordable rates. Talk to our experts at NTS and see how we can work together.