Heat shrink tubing is an essential tool to protect and enhance your wiring projects. As a shrinkable plastic covering, it is used to insulate and protect wires, conductors, and terminals from moisture, wear and tear, and abrasion. It can also be a great branding opportunity.
When choosing heat shrink tubing, make sure to consider how the heat shrink will be used and whether it will be exposed to various environmental conditions. Heat shrink is rather versatile. You can choose the material, size, and most cost-effective custom heat shrink products in Canada and the USA to suit your needs.
Here's everything you need to know about heat shrink tubing.
How Does Heat Shrink Tubing Work?
Made from an expanded thermoplastic material and cut to various lengths, heat shrink tubing is designed to fit around wire conductors, joints, connections, and terminals. When exposed to heat—heat shrink products are produced to withstand temperatures of up to 135 degrees Celsius—the heat shrink tube softens and shrinks to snuggly cover the wiring or components and act as a protective layer. Heat is applied with a heat gun to force the diameter to shrink to form a protective layer around the wiring.
Heat shrink is available in various sizes depending on the required use.
Why Do You Need Heat Shrink Tubing?
Many industries such as the electrical, automotive, military, and offshore fields use heat shrink tubing to protect wiring against abrasion, moisture, peeling, and cuts. By preventing damage from harsh weather and environmental conditions, the tubing can help to extend the lifespan of the product.
Printed heat shrink tubing can help boost a business by having the company’s name, logo, or serial numbers printed on the tubing. Upon shrinkage, the text will not be distorted. The customized tubing can also be used to differentiate the uses of the wires.
How to Select the Correct Type of Heat Shrink Tubing
Heat shrink tubing is chosen based on its particular use or industry. Each distinct type of tubing has its own benefits in terms of protection, exposure, and viable heat application.
Adhesive-Lined Heat Shrink Tubing
Adhesive-lined heat shrink tubing provides environmental protection and is commonly chosen for use in the automotive field and for specific projects within the marine industry. This form is available in a wide array of sizes with a shrink ratio of 3:1 or 4:1.
Single-Wall Heat Shrink Tubing
Made of polyolefin material, single-wall tubing can be used in almost any situation. The product features excellent flexibility and high flame-resistance, as well as a low shrink temperature of 90ºC (194ºF). Available in several colors on various size spools, or in 4-foot-long pieces, there are two standard shrink ratios, 2:1 or 3:1.
Dual-Wall Heat Shrink Tubing
For projects that require protection from corrosion and dampness, dual-wall heat shrink tubing is applied. As this type of tubing offers a durable outer shell with an adhesive lining, it is used for electrical jobs that require insulation in addition to protection from harsh environmental conditions.
Heavy-Duty & Self-Sealing Heat Shrink Tubing
For projects that call for extremely sturdy tubing, heavy-duty and self-sealing heat shrink tubing is used. It is produced to prevent damage from oil, chemicals, and moisture. The adhesive options depend on the material it is being applied to.
Choose the Correct Heat Shrink Tubing Size and Material
Pricing is determined by the material and size. Depending on your specific requirements, you have a few different options to choose from.
The size of the heat shrink tubing is based on the shrink ratio. The shrink tubing measurements refer to how much the diameter of the tube needs to shrink to provide a tight fit over the narrowest portion of the wire or cable. For example, a 2:1 ratio means the heat shrink will shrink to as much as half its original diameter, while a 3:1 ratio can shrink to a third its size.
The tubing will have virtually no shrinkage in length. Select the largest diameter that will provide a snug fit after heated.
Polyolefin vs. PVC
The most commonly used material is polyolefin. Polyolefin is flame-resistant and can tolerate temperatures up to 135°C or 275°F. Unlike PVC, polyolefin is nontoxic, break-resistant properties, and so is popular in the industrial, mechanical, medical, and manufacturing fields. PVC tubing is of lower cost but is not as safe or durable to use.
Electrical Property Requirements
When any heat shrink tubing is used for electrical work, the tubing itself has to meet the highest electrical safety guidelines and standards. For example, the tubing may need to meet the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards. Approved heat shrink is usually rated for use with up to 600 volts. Product packaging should indicate the approval agency and ratings.
Knowing if the tubing will be used indoors or outdoors, have contact with chemicals or other harmful fluids, be exposed to possible abrasion, or be in direct sunlight all have a huge impact on the type of tubing you should choose.
Thickness of the Wall
We mentioned the different types of tubing available with single, double, or heavy wall features. The thickness of the wall required is usually determined by the environment the heat shrink tubing will be in. The electrical and automotive industries have standards for the desired thickness as the tubing can be placed under intense pressure and be exposed to environmental and fluid elements.
Choose Heat Shrink Tubing from ShrinkShop
For all of your heat shrink tubing needs, depend on the quality selection at ShrinkShop. As the online provider of Thermafix® Heat Shrinkable Tubing and the adhesive lined Thermafix Plus Heat Shrinkable Tubing, we are the heat shrink tubing experts.
We offer custom-printed heat shrink tubing and a large collection of tubing sizes and colors, with text, images, or markings. For more than 30 years, our friendly staff has provided the latest technology and custom-made products to solve your electrical demands. Contact us today to buy heat shrinkable tubing.