6 Things You Need to Know About Heat Shrink Tubing

Heat shrink tubing is one of the most versatile and effective maintenance and repair tools available today. It’s found at workplaces across the country and helps with everything from electrical wire protection to avoiding environmental standards.

In spite of all these benefits, many people don’t know much about heat shrink tubing. Here are 6 things you need to know:

1) What is heat shrink tubing?

Let’s get the most important question out of the way first. What exactly is heat shrink tubing?1

Well, heat shrink tubing is simply a tube that contracts when warmed. Also known as heat shrinkable tubing, it’s used to protect wires and cabling from environmental hazards.

Here’s how it works: when heat is applied to the tubing, the material on the inside contacts the wire or cable, effectively unifying the items into a single product.

2) What are the primary advantages of heat shrink tubing?

The main benefit of heat shrink tubing is its ability to protect wires. You can use heat shrink tubing to protect electrical wires and cables from harmful environmental elements, including water, oils, and acids.

In many cases, heat shrink tubing replaces insulation. Of course, heat shrink tubing can be used for more than just insulation: in practice, it’s used for:

-Relieving strain on wires and cables

-Bundling cables together

-Color coding wires and cables

These uses – along with its uses as an insulator – make heat shrink tubing a popular tool at many workplaces.

3) Why would I use heat shrink tubing instead of traditional insulation?

Heat shrink tubing provides extensive durability and heat resistance. In most cases, it outperforms basic insulation. Additionally, heat shrink tubing is built to provide the perfect fit and will not come off with age or use (the same cannot be said for electrical tape).

Heat shrink tubing is also generally easy to install. Some heat shrink tubing requires costly heat shrink machinery, but some tubing can be installed by hand.

4) How do I chose the right heat shrink tubing?

At Ram Products, we offer 3 different types of heat shrink tubing and heat shrink tubing equipment. Heat shrink tubing comes in a wide range of colors and sizes. It also comes with a variety of protection levels, including heavy wall, multiple wall, and single wall.2

You can view our selection of heat shrink tubing here.

Here are some things to consider if you’re buying heat shrink tubing:

-Consider the maximum diameter of your cable bundle. This will help you choose the correctly-sized heat shrink tubing.

-Consider the temperature range of your environment. Some heat shrink tubing is rated to extremely high and low temperatures, while other tubing is designed for more moderate environmental conditions.

-Consider wall thickness. Heat shrink tubing is typically categorized by heavy wall, multiple wall, and single wall tubes. Thicker walls provide enhanced durability, rigidity, and abrasion resistance – but come at an extra cost and can unnecessarily thicken your cable arrangement.

-Consider any unique resistance properties you require. Your wires may be exposed to chemicals and oils, for example.

5) Everything you need to know about heat shrink ratios

Heat shrink tubing comes with a range of different ratios. You’ll see these ratios advertised directly on heat shrink product descriptions or packaging. Here are the most common ratios and their uses:

-2:1 ratio: A 2:1 ratio heat shrink tube will shrink to half its original size when heat is applied.

-3:1 ratio: A 3:1 ratio heat shrink tube will shrink to one third of its original size when heat is applied.

Ideally, your heat shrink tube will shrink to form a tight bond around your cables and wires – but not too tight. Experts recommend choosing tubing that is 20% to 30% larger than your largest measurement. This leaves you enough room to slide the expanded tubing over the largest part while also forming a snug fit over the smallest part.

It’s also a good idea to buy heat shrink tubing that is slightly longer than you need. When heat is applied, you’ll notice that the tubing slightly shrinks lengthwise as well as widthwise.

6) Polyolefin is the most popular heat shrink tubing for good reason3

When you’re shopping for heat shrink tubing, you’ll notice that most heat shrink tubing is made from polyolefin. Polyolefin is the best material to use for most wire insulation and bundling applications.

Common polyolefin heat shrink tubing has a recommended shrink temperature of approximately 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit).

You can view Ram Products lineup of heavy wall, multiple wall, and single wall tubing here.

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