An Overview of Heat Shrink Tubing

Heat shrink tubing is a type of tubing used frequently for electrical purposes that shrinks in diameter when exposed to heat. This type of tubing comes in three main types of categories: thin-wall, medium-wall, and thick-wall tubing. The tubing is used to insulate electrical wiring, offering protection and abrasion resistance for conductors, connections, joints and terminals. Other uses of the tubing are repair work for wiring and bundling wires. For this purpose it has become popular as a tool to keep computer wires organized.

When placed over a connection, heat shrink tubing should be heated with a light heat source that causes the tubing to shrink but will not heat it to the point of melting or scorching. Sources of light heat might include a hot air gun like a hairdryer, an oven, a lighter, or a soldering iron. It is recommended that if using such a direct heat source as a lighter or soldering iron, that the flame be held away from the tubing so as not to scorch or melt. Heat shrink tubing is unique in that it can shrink from as far as one sixth of its original diameter without reducing length. Some tubing has an adhesive inside that allows it to bond more tightly with desired materials once heated.

Heat shrink tubing is made from several different types of thermoplastic materials including PVC, neoprene, silicone elastomer, polyolefin, and others. It also comes in a variety of different colors to make organization and color-coding possible, which is one reason it has become so popular in organizing computer cables and wiring. Whatever the use, the design of heat shrink tubing makes it an ideal product in insulating and protecting wiring from dust and other foreign materials.