The basics of heat shrink tubing

The basics of heat shrink tubing

Heat shrink tubing, also referred to as electrical shrink tubing, is used to protect individual components of an electrical array from abrasions or environmental factors – such as moisture, abrasions, dust and/or exposure to sharp objects – that can damage the wiring within.

It is critical for both domestic and industrial complexes to protect electrical wiring and components from damage, otherwise there will be substantial risk of shorts, failures and possibly destructive fires.

Heat shrink tubing can also protect vulnerable junctures or multiple components. For example, it can be used to organize and manage bundles of loose wires, joints, splices, terminals and/or connectors together. The tubing is also used for repairing damaged electrical installations.

The tubing is often color-coded when used on a large scale, to allow technicians to easily identify wires and component bundles for necessary checks and repairs.

How Does Heat Shrink Tubing Work?

Electrical shrink tubing is a thermoplastic tube that shrinks exposed to heat. Manufacturers first make the tubes by the extrusion method. The choice of material depends on the specific application. The extruded material is initially heated, so the diameter expands. This expanded tubing is then cooled to room temperature and set.

Once placed around wires or electrical components, the entire arrangement is again heated to a temperature where the heat shrink tube will first soften and then shrink back to its original extruded size. In the process, the electrical arrays within are now enclosed within a tight layer of protective plastic. 

Why is Heat Shrink Tubing Preferred by Electricians?

Some of the alternatives to heat shrink tubing are cold shrink tubing and temporary measures like using electrical tape.

Electrical tape should not be used for anything but temporary fixes. While cold shrink tubing could be suitable in certain circumstances (such as in overly humid environments, outdoor where UV resistance is a factor and for somewhat better flexibility), heat shrink tubing is usually considered to be the best option for industrial and home use on account of its rigid exterior, chemical resistance and mechanical protection.

Heat shrink tubing is versatile. Not only does it protect against abrasions and cutting edges, it protects against damage from intrusive elements such as water, chemicals and dust. It provides both electrical and thermal insulation and its composition ensures that less strain is put on wires, components and connectors. Lastly, being able to color-code can be a life saver, sometimes literally.

The Market

The heat shrink tubing market is projected to experience substantial growth over the next 10 years (2021 to 2031) due to burgeoning demand from the electrical, automotive and telecommunications industry.

There are some impressive statistics and projections:

  • The 2020 US sales were approaching $500 million, according to ResearchandMarkets.com. They project the market size to reach $2.6 billion by 2027.
  • According to Future Market Insights, the industry is projected to grow at 5.9% year over year, reaching 47,000 units sold and $1.8 billion in valuation globally.

Heat Shrink Tubing is sold by all hardware stores and mega retail outlets, including Home Depot, Walmart, Ace Hardware and other such vendors around the country. Manufacturers can also ship direct from their online or other outlet stores.

Check out the Advanced FEP Tubing from Fluorostore

Fluorostore™ sells a wide array of fluoropolymer products, utilizing a number of materials such as FEP, PFA, PTFE, PVDF as well as PCTFE. 

We manufacture our heat shrink tubing products from Fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP), a tough but flexible copolymer of hexafluoropropylene and tetrafluoroethylene. We use it in our electrical shrinking tube products given the fact that it has outstanding electrical properties, and also demonstrates considerable chemical resistance, has low stiffness and high purity. An additional feature of FEP material is UV resistance.

Check out our material specifications (https://www.fluorotherm.com/technical-information/) or talk to one of our specialists if you have questions.



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