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1. WO1996005526 - FUSION SPLICING BLOCK

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[ EN ]

Having thus described the invention, we now claim:
1. A fusion element for fusing optical fibers resting along a passline thereon, comprising:
a non-conducting substrate; and,
a pair of electrodes, each electrode having an electrode tip end and having an other end for contacting a voltage source, a portion of each electrode overlying a surface of the non-conducting substrate, and spaced apart and separated from each other by the passline, such that each electrode tip end is adjacent the passline, the electrode tips defining an arc region therebetween.

2. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 1, wherein the surface of the non-conducting substrate is substantially planar.

3. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 2, wherein a portion of each of the pair of electrodes overlying the surface of the non-conducting substrate is bonded to the substrate.

4. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 3, wherein the pair of electrodes are a one of printed, glued, and plated on the substrate.

5. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 3, further comprising a layer of non-conducting material substantially covering the pair of electrodes bonded to the non-conducting substrate.

6. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 2, wherein the electrode tip end of each of said pair of electrodes has a smaller cross section than the other end of each said pair of electrodes for contacting the voltage source, the pair of electrode tip ends defining an arc gap for creating a plasma arc at the gap for fusing the optical fibers in the presence of a voltage across the pair of electrodes sufficient for fusion.

7. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 2 including an electrical conducting path connecting the electrode tip end of each of said pair of electrodes with the other end of each of said pair of electrodes, said other end of each of said pair of electrodes forming an electrical contact pad.

8. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 7, wherein the electrical conducting path comprises a conductive lining on the interior walls of an opening in the non-conducting substrate, the conductive lining interconnecting the electrode tip portion of each of said pair of electrodes with the contact pad via the conducting path.

9. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 8 further comprising a cover for at least partially enclosing the fusion arc region.

10. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 9, wherein the cover or enclosing the fusion arc region is transparent so that the fiber ends placed within the gap are viewable.

11. The fusion element for fusing optical fibers according to claim 5, wherein the substrate includes at least one groove for aligning and guiding the fibers along said passline.

12. A fusion element comprising a non-conducting substrate including:
at least two outer portions of conducting material for making contact with an operatively associated external voltage source, and
at least two planar conducting electrodes overlaying a layer of the substrate, said at least two planar conducting electrodes being electrically isolated from each other and each electrode being electrically connected to a one of the outer portions.

13. The fusion element according to claim 12 further comprising:
means defining through holes in the non-conducting substrate;
at least two plated conducting barrels lining the inside surface of said through holes each plated barrel electrically interconnecting a one of the electrodes with a one of the outer coated portions.

14. The fusion element according to claim 13, further comprising an upper layer of non-conducting material covering the at least two planar conducting electrodes, the upper layer of non-conducting material being bonded to the non-conducting substrate.

15. A method of fabricating a consumable fusion block for use in fusion splicing of optical fibres, comprising the steps of:
providing a block of non-conducting material that has a substantially flat surface;
overlaying a conducting layer onto the substantially flat surface, said conducting layer covering at least a part of the flat surface; and,
cutting through the conducting layer to sever it into at least two portions and further cutting into the substantially flat surface to define a groove therein for receiving optical fibers to be fused.

16. The method of fabricating a fusion block according to claim 15, wherein the step of cutting into the substantially flat surface to define said groove includes cutting through the conducting layer thereby defining electrode tips at severed ends of the conducting layer on either side of the groove.