Filed under: Cables and Wires, Heat Shrink Tubing, Soldering
When it comes to using heat shrink tubing, it is important to correctly use it to ensure that your application will properly be installed according to your needs. Here are some simple tips when using heat shrink tubing.
How To Use Heat Shrink Tubing Properly.
- One of the first things that you need to do is measure the exposed joint length which needs to be covered by the tubing. When you have properly measured your exposed joint it is wise to add another 1 inch to either side of it to get a proper fit and an overall length. For example: if your joint is roughly 1″ in length then you will have a total of 3″.
- Take some sharp scissors and cut the tubing needed to the length required. When you have cut it simply slide the piece of tubing over the wiring that need to be joined together by either soldering or twisting the wiring together. Please note: do not have your shrink tubing near any heat source, especially when soldering as this may cause your tube to shrink prematurely.
- Once you have connected the wiring, simply slide the tubing over the finished joint once it is cooled (if soldered). Then centre it over the electrical connection and wiring so it is even on both sides.
- Next take your heat gun and plug it in allowing it to warm up. Once it is ready carefully place it near the tubing running it back and forth until the tubing has shrunk around the wiring. Please note: If smoke arises when heating the shrink tubing pull the heat gun back slightly to reduce burning of the tube.
- Lastly you will need to let the heat shrink tubing cool before wrapping a continuous round of electrical tape around the tube covering one end to the other. When wrapping it around simply start about ½ an inch from the shrink tubing on the wire so it can create a water right application with a good mechanical sealing solution.
So if you are looking to use heat shrink tubing with your application, why not follow these simple tips to create the perfect tight seal and cover for your wires each and every time.
Having been a die-hard Shrinky Dink fan growing up in the ’80s, there’s one particular variety of cable management product that I never seem to get tired of: heat shrink tubing. What’s not to love? It’s easy (and dare I say fun?) to use, comes in lots of bright colors, and, like my old pals the Shrinky Dinks, transforms before your eyes with the simple application of heat. Come to think of it, said heat application doesn’t seem to release the same burning plastic fumes that my little hand-colored charms did while they baked, so maybe heat shrink tubing is even better than the Dinks (but I digress). And the concepts of “heat” and “shrink” just make sense together; if you don’t believe me, try accidentally throwing a “hand wash cold only, line dry” item of clothing into a warm wash cycle and then the dryer. Ouch.
So you can imagine my confusion when I began hearing talk of a little product called “cold shrink tubing.” What? How is that possible? And now I finally know, and can in fact introduce you to some extremely handy cold shrink tubing.
The reason why cold shrink can be shrunken into place cold is because it’s made of stretchy, highly-conforming rubber, unlike traditional heat shrink tubing, which is made of cross-linked plastic that requires relatively high temperatures to go into shape-shifting mode. Heat shrink is basically pre-expanded, irradiated plastic tubing that “remembers” its smaller original diameter when heat is applied. In the case of cold shrink, a length of rubber tubing is stretched over a hollow, larger-diameter plastic inner core, which is slid over a cable or splice until it’s right where you need it, at which point the inner core is removed, and the cold shrink tubing basically snaps back down to its original smaller diameter, creating a snug, weatherproof seal over the wire connection point.
I don’t know about you, but now that I know the complete story behind cold shrink, I’m a little embarrassed that the mere thought of it used to puzzle me. That said, here are a few fast facts and benefits, lest you’re wondering about actual practical applications. First off, it’s only suitable for low voltage applications (like A/V, voice & data, and coax), is UV-resistant (so it’s great outdoors), and obviously, eliminates the risk of burns and overall charring (to components and people alike) due to misuse, or overuse, of heat guns and torches. And since there are no heat tools in the picture, it’s great for using in the field, and tends to free up quite a bit of real estate in your tool kit, which is never a bad thing.