Frequently Asked Questions: Heat Shrink Tubing

Conduit Tubing

Heat Shrink Tubing

What is Heat Shrink Tubing?

Heat Shrink Tubing, also called heat shrinkable tubing, is a tube that contracts when warmed. When heat is applied to the heat shrink tubing, the adhesive material inside of the tube is activated. The adhesive material then secures it to the wire or cable. The process allows the wire or cable and the heat shrink tubing to become one unified product.


What is the purpose of Heat Shrink Tubing?

Heat shrinkable tubing is used to replace insulation, for strain relief, bundling, and for color tubing. Heat shrinkable tubing is a great way to protect electric wires and cables from harmful elements such as water, oils, acids and other environmental hazards. Heat shrinkable tubing is an alternative to customary methods of insulation and may be used in a variety of applications.


Why is Polyolefin Tubing a good heat shrinkable tubing choice?

Polyolefin Shrink Tubing is a popular selection among the heat shrink tubing family because Polyolefin is flame-retardant and possesses good chemical, electrical and physical properties. In general, Polyolefin Tubing is a reliable all purpose heat shrink product and is UL recognized. The heat shrinkable tubing is also available in many different styles for various uses. Sometimes Polyolefin heat shrink tubing is also referred to as Automotive Heat Shrink Tubing, so it may be a good choice for automotive applications. However, depending on the specific application, another heat shrink tubing option may work better for your requirements.


Is installation of the heat shrinkable tubing difficult?

No, in most instances, heat shrink tubing is very easy to work with and simple to install.

Heat shrink tubing is available in an array of sizes and colors. Click here to visit the Tubing section of our online catalog where you can view specs or request a quote on heat shrink tubing.


Do I need to use heat shrink machinery to install all types of heat shrink tubing?

No. Our Mylar heat shrinkable tubing is designed for by-hand application and does not require costly heat shrink machinery to be installed.


What are some advantages of using heat shrink tubing?

Besides providing extra durability and heat resistance, heat shrink tubing is also designed to give a perfect fit and does not come off with age or use, unlike electrical tape.


What are some important specifications to consider when choosing heat shrink tubing?

The maximum diameter of your cable bundle and the temperature range required by your application are both important factors to consider when choosing heat shrink tubing. Because these products change size so drastically, the heat shrink ratio is also an important spec to consider so that you get the correct fit for your heat shrinkable tubing.For more information on specifications to consider, watch our helpful Heat Shrinkable Tubing How-To.


What are some common heat shrink ratios and what do those ratios mean?

Heat shrink ratios give you the size of the original heat shrink tubing in relation to its shrunken, final form.

  • 2:1 - This heat shrink tubing will become half of its original size once heat is applied. The original heat shrinkable tubing is twice as large as its shrunken form.
  • 3:1 - This heat shrink tubing will be one third of its original size once heat is applied. The original heat shrinkable tubing is three times larger than its shrunken form.
  • 4:1 - This heat shrink tubing will be one quarter of its original size once heat is applied. The original heat shrinkable tubing is four times larger than its shrunken form.


How do I choose a heat shrinkable tubing size?

Choosing the right heat shrinkable tubing size is all about taking the right measurements. Use a caliper or a ruler to measure the diameters of the smallest and largest parts you will be covering with the tubing. Choose heat shrinkable tubing that is twenty to thirty percent larger than your largest measurement. The extra twenty to thirty percent will allow room to slide the expanded tubing over the largest part. Don’t forget your small measurement though! Check to make sure that the heat shrinkable tubing has a high enough shrink ratio to get a snug fit on the smallest part you wish to cover. Finally, when placing your order, it’s a good idea to buy a little extra because some heat shrink tubing also shrinks lengthwise! This measurement is referred to as "longitudinal shrinkage" on the tubing specification, but isn't always provided for all heat shrinkable tubing products. Watch our Heat Shrink Tubing How-To Video on choosing the correct heat shrink tubing size.


Which mil specs apply to heat shrink tubing?

The M23053 military specification covers heat shrink tubing. Different slant sheets and classes that fall under this mil spec account for different materials, wall thicknesses, and other mechanical and electrical qualities that are considered acceptable for each product. M23053 heat shrink tubing can be used for a wide range of applications and is designed to withstand harsh conditions. For more information on Mil Specs, see our Mil-Spec Cable FAQ page.


Where can I find more general information about Tubing products?

Visit our Tubing FAQ page for more information about the Tubing products available through Allied Wire & Cable.


Industry Related Links


Don't forget to watch our Heat Shrink Tubing How-To Video for some helpful tips on measuring, choosing, and installing heat shrink tubing!


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