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Heat Shrink Tubes And Its Uses

Electrical wires are often open to the environment and can be hazardous due to abrasion and environmental changes. Solid wire conductors, connectors, stranded wires, joints, terminals and other things need to be protected against the surrounding changes that can cause damage to the components. Hence, heat shrink tubing is used for this purpose. They can also be used to create seals in cables, to bundle the wires together, for insulation and they are resistant to abrasion.

Manufacturing process

The main component in manufacturing heat shrink tubes is polyolefin, a thermoplastic material. This component is chosen and often added with additives depending on the application. The starting tube is extruded and this tube is cross-linked through radiation which creates a memory in the tube. Then the tube is heated just above the crystalline melting point of the polymer and expanded in diameter to the desired shape and size in a vacuum chamber. When the end-user heats this again, the tube shrinks back to the original size.

Usage

This tubing is fitted before making the connection in electrical wires and slides down to the joint. A silicone lubricant can be used if it is too tight. Then the tubing is shrunk by heating with a hot air gun. This heat needs to be controlled otherwise it can cause uneven shrinkage, insulation failures, and physical damage to the tubing. Overheating can cause the tubing to catch fire like any other plastic. Some types contain an underlying thermoplastic adhesive to provide better adhesion and sealing.