Our Tips for Buying Heat Shrink Film to Safeguard Important Electric Components

By Steve George

February 21, 2023Electronics Home & Decor

From facility engineers and sparkies to auto enthusiasts and audiophiles, anyone who does any kind of cable splicing, connecting, or terminating is familiar with heat shrink.

In fact, the job of making sure that cables and wires are properly sealed and insulated after they’ve been cut is more than just a good idea in some fields: it’s a requirement. In the mining, industrial, and telecoms sectors, heat shrinking is an essential part of ensuring that critical cabling and wiring are protected from both incidental and environmental exposure.

If you and your company are serious about properly managing the integrity of your cable connections and junctions, then high-quality heat shrink is a consumable that you need to have on stock at all times. High quality doesn’t have to come at a premium price though, because the options for ensuring that your electronics are adequately insulated are readily available.

Multi coloured heat shrinks.
Source: flickr.com

Safeguarding Crucial Cabling With High-Quality Heat Shrink

Let’s be honest: there’s more to good cable management than just aesthetics. It’s about ensuring that all of your connections, junctions and terminations are appropriately sealed and insulated using reliable heat shrinks and cable management supplies that are correctly sized and rated for the job.

If you’re a professional entity, Australian Standards AS/ASCIF S009 and AS/NZ 3000 not only provide guidance for the proper cabling and wiring of both telecommunications and electrical installations, they thoroughly underscore how important the use of cable and electrical heat shrink is for:      

·   Basic, and fault protection of exposed cables;

·   Increasing strain relief on soldered, spliced, and butted connections; and,

·   Shielding cables from intrusion from moisture or humidity.

Heat shrinking your cable and wire connections is a simple, cost-effective solution for safeguarding personnel, circuitry, and equipment. And you can buy industrial- and general-purpose grade heat shrink online in a range of thicknesses, ratings, and capacities that are suitable for any situation.

Increasing Your Protection With an Adhesive Layer

High-quality heat shrink tubing is typically made from flexible polyolefin, or polyolefin with a thermoplastic adhesive lining. On its own, durable polyolefin provides a flame retardant, UV resistant sheath for reworked cabling, but the sealing and capillary action of a heat-activated adhesive lining is crucial for protecting it from an array of problems that can include:

·   Rust or corrosion due to partial or complete submersion;

·   Impedance problems due to frequent temperature swings; or

·   The introduction of abrasive or static-inducing substrate if buried.

You may not always need the extra protection, but if there’s a potential for the performance, reliability, or integrity of your cabling to be impacted by any of these conditions, you want to be sure to buy heat shrink that has the adhesive lining.

Thin Wall Heat Shrink Makes General Cable Protection Simple

Flexible, thin wall heat shrink is rated for low voltage applications up to 600V, is available in pre-shrunk diameters from 2.4mm to 76mm, and has an after-shrinking wall thickness of 0.4mm to 0.82mm.

This highly versatile cable heat shrink is sold in 50-piece quantities of 1.2m lengths, and its attributes include:

·   An 80° to 120°C shrinking temperature;

·   A -45° to 135°C operating temperature;

·   A 2:1 shrink ratio;

·   >300% elongation breaking point; and,

·   < 0.2% water absorption.

With its broad selection of sizes, along with its shrink ratio and versatility, the thin wall shrink tube is ideal for an unlimited array of uses, including:

·   Computer and recreational equipment wiring;

·   Automotive and marine cabling and wiring; and,

·   Facility and installation wiring.

Thin wall wire heat shrink also comes in a choice of colours, making bundling and colour-coding cables for easy identification and maintenance a central part of a good cable management strategy.

Black heat Shrinks.
Source: flickr.com

Medium Wall Heat Shrink for the Toughest Jobs

1.2m long sections of medium wall cable heat shrink provide the next level of moisture and UV resistance, along with increased protection from abrasion and other forms of mechanical damage. Medium wall heat shrink is rated for voltage applications up to 1KV, comes in pre-shrunk diameters from 12mm to 92mm, and shrunken wall thicknesses from 1.6mm to 3mm.

Although the rigidity of medium wall electrical heat shrink wrap eliminates some of its flexibility, its increased impact and chemical protection add to a solid list of attributes that includes:

·   A 70° to 125°C shrinking temperature;

·   A -45° to 110°C operating temperature;

·   A 3:1 shrink ratio;

·   >400% elongation breaking point; and,

·   < 0.5% water absorption.

An adhesive lining is also a standard medium wall heat shrink wire wrap attribute, making it suitable for bigger connection and strain relieving jobs that involve:

·   Secondary voltage and earthing cables;

·   Large cable bundles and adapters; and,

·   Submersible or buried cables.

Suffice it to say, regardless of whether it’s for above ground or below, when you need to buy heat shrink tubes for tough jobs, this is the one you want.

End Caps Keep Your Unused Cables Ready for Their Next Use 

Adhesive-lined, medium-walled heat shrink end caps are designed specifically to protect the unused ends of telecommunications and electrical cables for indefinite periods. These unique pieces are available in 40mm, 55mm, 90mm, 103mm, and 140mm lengths, and share all the UV, chemical, and corrosion-resistant properties that their open-end medium wall counterparts have.

End caps are sized for OD cables from 4mm – 90mm, and feature an average 2.6:1 shrink ratio with an operating temperature range of -35° to 110°C. Make no mistake: you have to have them if you work with cabling, and they round out a tough lineup of cable management products and heat shrink tubing that Australia can be proud of.

The Final Word

At the end of the day, the simplicity of heat shrink defies just how important it is for cable integrity. A cable needs added protection once it’s been cut and spliced, and that’s precisely what’s accomplished with heat shrink and good cable management. 

If you’re in charge of ordering your company’s cable consumables, heat shrinks need to be at the top of your list of cable management supplies. It’ll help you to ensure that there’s never a loss of continuity whenever a change in cabling takes place.