What is Heat Shrink Tubing?
Heat shrink tubing is commonly referred to by several different names, including: shrink wrap, shrink band, shrink tubing, heat shrink sleeve, heat shrink sleeves, and heat shrinkable tubing.
Heat-shrinkable products can be found in many places around the world, such as cars, trucks, vans, airplanes, military vehicles, electronics, inside computers, spacecrafts, audio & video, telecommunications, large and small ships, appliances, rail/transit (locomotives, monorails, "people movers"), and many more industries.
Typical applications include: electrical insulation, termination, splicing, cable bundling, color coding, strain relief, wire marking, identification, wire bundling, mechanical protection, corrosion protection, abrasion protection, strain relief, wire and cable management and moisture and weather sealing.
How is Shrink tubing manufactured?
Basically, a special thermoplastic compound (i.e. plastic pellets) is extruded and made into a tube. The tube is then exposed to high intensity radiation, and expanded to twice its original diameter. This tubing is supplied in what's called the "expanded" state. In some cases the expansion may be greater than 2:1 . Such heat shrink tubes are supplied in an "overexpanded" state. Common types include 3:1 heat shrink , 4:1 heat shrink , and even 6:1 heat shrink. Adhesive lined heat shrink (also known as dual wall heat shrink tubing) is also readily available.
When the heat shrink tube is supplied in an expanded state, it has what is called "memory". This means that when it is exposed to high heat (commonly referred to as the shrink temperature or activation temperature), it will relax back to its original diameter. This is called the recovered state. One must be careful when referring to the diameter, and make sure to specify expanded diameter or recovered diameter. We make it easy for you: Unless stated otherwise, the diameter listed on this site is always Expanded diameter. Also, diameter is always measured as a tube, not flat width.
There are several ways to shrink heat shrink tubing. Contrary to popular belief: a hair dryer will not work. A cigarette lighter will work, but you run the risk of charring the tubing. In most cases a hot air oven or a heat shrink gun (such as Leister or Master or our VT-1100 ) is the ideal heat source. In special cases like PTFE (Teflon®) heat shrink tubing, a blow torch may be required.
What types of heat shrinkable tubing are available?
We offer all varieties of heat shrink tubing, such as: polyolefin, fluoropolymer (PVC, FEP, PTFE, Kynar® PVDF), chlorinated polyolefin (Neoprene®) and highly flexible elastomer (Viton®) heat-shrinkable tubing. Our tubing conforms to all major commercial and military specifications including AMS-DTL-23053 (formerly known as MIL-I-23053), Underwriters' Laboratory (UL) VW-1 flame test, and CSA.
Since our offering is so diverse, regardless of your application, whether it's low temperature (-75C), high temperature (260C), extreme weather or chemicals, we have the solution for you. Need extreme chemical resistance ? Perhaps our PTFE (Teflon), or Viton will be right for you. Do you need outstanding low temperature flexibility? Try Neoprene heat shrink. Do you need to bundle cables in a plenum approved jacketing material? Kynar resin is approved for use (under NFPA-70A) in plenum applications.
Materials are available in thin wall, medium wall or heavy wall configurations, with melt-and-flow adhesives, weather proofing encapsulants, and many different colors, including Yellow/Green stripes for ground identification, and clear PVC tubing (heat shrink and non-shrink). While we normally don't sell heat shrink tubing on a "by the foot" basis, if you require small quantities for sampling or home projects, we will be happy to work with you or refer you to one of our partners.
Custom cutting and printing services (thermal transfer and hot stamp marking) are also available upon request. If you can't find what you're looking for here, call us and we will find it for you.