Fiber Cleaver is an essential equipment used in the optical fiber field for low-loss and low-reflectance fiber optic splices or terminations, especially when using pre polished connectors with internal splices. But before giving a better definition and a more clean explanation about this equipment is is important to understand what is cleave and what is the cleaving process,to understand better why is the fiber cleaver important and why we need it.
Cleave in an optical fiber is a deliberate, controlled break, intended to create a perfectly flat end face, perpendicular to the optical fiber axis or with a well-defined angle against the optical fiber axis. This sufficiently perpendicular and planar fiber end face can be achieved via the fiber cleaving process. I
The cleaving process is the standard method used to precisely break(cut) an optical fiber for termination or splicing. It begins with making a really small fracture on the side of the optical fiber, with a sharp diamond , or carbide, before or while some defined tension is applied to the optic fiber. This causes the fiber to break, starting at the mentioned fracture point: the fracture quickly propagates over the full optic fiber cross-section. Often, the cleaving leads to a very clean surface of the obtained two fiber parts. The equipment that is mostly in the cleaving process is fiber cleaver.
A fiber cleaver is equipment or toll that holds the optical fiber under low tension, scores the surface at the proper location, then applies greater tension until the fiber breaks. Good cleavers are automatic and produce consistent results, irrespective of the operator. With good fiber cleavers, you only need to clamp the optical fiber into the cleaver and operate its controls, then fiberglass is cleaved automatically. However, some cleavers are less automated and require operators to exert force manually to cut the optical fiber cable, which makes it difficult to predict and control the force. By using a good fiber cleaver in the cleaving process, the optical fiber is broken in a smooth way,and in that way the fiber will have a more clean surface, perpendicular to the fiber axis, with no protruding glass in the fiber end.
Types of Fiber Cleaver
There are a variety and types of fiber cleavers available in the market, ranging from scribe or manual cleavers to high precision cleavers.
- Scribe Cleavers
The scribe or manual cleaver, which is cheaper than the precision cleaver, is the most original type of fiber optic cleaver. Scribe cleavers are usually shaped like ballpoint pens with diamond tipped wedges or come in the form of tile squares.
The scribe has a hard and sharp tip, generally made of carbide or diamond, to scratch the fiber manually. Then the operator pulls the fiber to break it. Since the breaking process is under manual control, it is hard to control the force, which makes the cleaving less accurate and precise. That’s why most technicians usually don’t choose this type of cleavers.
- Precision Cleavers
As the name says, precision cleavers can do a preciser cleaving job compared to the scribe cleavers. A precision cleaver uses a diamond or tungsten blade to provide the nick in the fiber. Tension is then applied to the fiber to create the cleaved end face. The advantage of the precision cleavers is that they can produce repeatable results through thousands of cleaves by simply just rotating the wheel/blade accordingly.
Although they are more costly than scribe cleavers, precision cleavers can cut multiple fibers with increasing speed, efficiency, and accuracy. As the fusion splicers became popular, precision cleavers were developed to support various splicing works. Precision cleavers are deal for fusion splicing standard 125/250um & 125/900um fibers and preparing fiber for various pre-polished connectors.
Features of the precision fiber cleaver :
- Most high precision cleavers produce a cleave angle deviation typically <0.5° with very high reliability and low scattering under on-side conditions.
- One-step cleaving operation are a reality now with cleavers. Fiber clamping, bending, scratching and cleaving with one single action.
- Diamond blade presents the highest cleave quality and can last over 10,000 cleaves. They are even adjustable for cleaving fibers with increased tensile strength, e.g. titanium-coated fibers.
- It is easy to cleave an 80um diameter fiber, possible to cleave a 125um diameter fiber, and usually difficult to cleave >200um fibers. To some extent, the difficulty in cleaving these fibers results from the fact that the material of the fiber is not crystalline. Again, torsion will produce a non perpendicular end face. In face, most commercially available angle cleavers rely on torsion. The end face angle is proportional to the amount of torsion.
How to choose and select the best Fiber Cleaver for you ?
- Select fiber cleavers according to your application requirements.
Fiber cleavers, designed for fusion splicing, need a low average angle that is one degree or less, whereas cleavers appropriate for mechanical connectors require angles below three degrees. So determine whether you require a single-fiber or multi-fiber cleaver before you cleave the fibers at one time.
- Think twice before purchasing a cleaver built into a splicer.
If you intend to purchase the built-in cleavers, you must check whether the cleaver or splicer requires maintenance. It may cause inconvenience to technician if they loses valuable tools, which can hold up the job at hand.
- Purchase a cleaver with the latest automation features that can save a lot of labour and time.
Fiber cleavers are always continuing to evolve with new and improved features, such as automated fiber scrap collection, automated scoring mechanisms, and the latest automatic blade rotation technology.
Why is the Fiber Cleaver important?
In the world of fiber splicing, fiber cleaver is an important tool that cleaves the fibers to be spliced precisely. It is the warranty of a good splicing because the quality of the splice will depend on the quality of the cleave. Having a qualified fiber cleaver enhances the cleaving precision and efficiency.