What Heat Shrink Do You Need for Your Project?

By: CableOrganizer®


Heatshrink tubing is a versatile item that works to protect, insulate, and provide strain relief for cable management projects. Custom cars, motorcycles, boats, aircraft, military vehicles, network patch cords, computer cases, entertainment systems, industrial settings, and your home, are just a few of many places where you may find these shrink sleeves used.

Several companies began experimenting with polymers around the mid 20th century. Raychem Corporation pioneered the development of heat shrink in the late 1950s. It becomes smaller because of cross-linking and a plastic “memory” once heat is applied, which shrinks it down to its original dimensions. The amount of shrinkage depends on the shrink ratio, or the comparison to its original, expanded size. A 3:1 ratio, for example, shrinks to 1/3 — or 33% — of its original diameter. The 2:1 ratio reduces by half. There is also 6:1, which whittles to 1/6th of its initial width. This heat-shrinkable tubing comes in various materials, including the standard polyolefin, Viton® for high temperatures, polyvinylchloride (PVC) for applications requiring greater durability, Neoprene® for improved chemical resistance, and a blend of PTFE and FEP to hold up against moisture resistance in extreme conditions.

With these qualities, heatshrink is ideal for:

Bundling Wires — Slide the heat shrink over several wires to create a bundle, then warm the stretchy tube with a heat gun.

Repairing Cables — A damaged cable can be patched with shrink in spots where wires are exposed. Slide it over the break and then apply heat.

Strain Relief — Safeguard cables that are moved or pulled frequently. Where a cable and connector meet, apply tubing and heat.

Sealing Connectors — Protect connectors and wires from moisture, dust, and other factors. Connectors terminate or join wires. For best application, strip the end of the wire, insert the wire into the connector, crimp the two as needed, shrink the tubing with a heat gun, and lastly, inspect the connection.

Labeling Cables —Heatshrink is a way to label your cables. Use the appropriately sized tubing and trim it to length. Then slide it over the cable. You can either write on the tube with permanent marker or use the CableOrganizer® custom printed heat shrink service. If you DIY this project, warm the tubing with a heat gun to shrink it. Finally, after it has cooled, inspect the heat shrink to ensure it is attached securely to the cable, and is easy to read.

Color Coding Cables or Wires — Color code wires and cables with some types of shrinkable tubing available in a variety of colors. Color coding is not universal, but specific to industry and/or application. For example, in electrical applications, the protective ground wire is typically coded with yellow and green striping, white for neutral, black for the hot wire, and red for the hot wire’s second load or switch. Automotive wiring has its own color-coding system. EVs usually have orange or blue wiring that easily identifies high voltage cables for emergency crews at an accident scene. Automotive wiring for gas-powered cars often implements red for battery wires, black as the ground connected to the vehicle’s chassis, yellow for the ignition, and blue for the stereo and other accessories. Audio cables may use RCA connector colors, typically red, white, and yellow. RCA may additionally be green, blue, and red for component video applications. Ethernet cables tend to follow the T568A and B wiring schemes, with cables of orange, green, blue, and brown, in specific sequences.

Terminating Braided Sleeving — Braided sleeving and heat shrink tubing complement each other. The flexible and expandable cable sleeve protects and covers wires and cables from abrasion, heat, and other factors. Heatshrink offers enhanced protection and a professional appearance when teamed with it.


Automotive, to insulate battery terminals and protect against various types of damage. It safeguards wire harnesses and connections, shielding them from abrasion, vibration, heat, moisture, and more. It insulates and protects electrical connectors. Shrink guards wire splices against moisture and other contaminants. It keeps sensor wires and connectors safe.

Data Centers, as well as the IT, telecom, and datacom industries, which are ideal locations for heat shrink. Use it to bundle cables together; to secure, insulate and defend fiber optic cables from damage; and to provide strain relief. Color code ethernet cables with it. Use it to keep power cables and connectors safe; and reinforce patch cord ends, averting damage while pulling or bending.

Entertainment systems, another prime place for shrink. It is used to bundle cables together, label cables, and to safeguard them by applying a section where it meets with the connector. This averts the possibility of damage where there could potentially be movement and pulling. Sound quality can be improved, with interference reduced, thanks to heat shrink, where it safeguards and organizes wires and connectors. Home theater system cables can look less cluttered and be protected with heatshrink. Use it to organize and protect wires and cables in amplifiers, radios, and speakers.

Electronics, where it is beneficial to preserve and organize computer and laptop cables. That lessens the risk of cable damage and makes it easier to access and maintain components. Wires in drones and remote control vehicles can be fortified and organized with this tubing, to remain safe in use. Power supplies, such as one that converts AC to DC, battery chargers, and similar devices, are prime candidates for heatshrink, to organize and shield cables, which improves the safety and reliability of the item.

Industrial settings, where cables, wires, and hoses are covered with it to avert dust, vibration, and other factors.

Medical equipment, where like in other applications mentioned previously, wiring and connectors can be armored with it against moisture, chemicals, and more.

Robotics, in any capacity, can have wires and cables covered with shrink, to safeguard during use or movement.

Home, where there are even unconventional uses, beyond wires. In addition to entertainment systems, computers, automotive uses, and electronics, you can find heat shrink applied in residential plumbing. In that application, it can reduce the risk of pipe freezes, and improve your energy efficiency. In your garden, use it for a protective covering for stakes and trellises. It also provides a non-slip grip to tool handles, including screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches. It does the same for sports equipment, like golf club handles, the grips of tennis rackets, and bike handlebars. It is helpful in your garage or workshop to provide comfortable, non-slip grips for power tools. It can mark, label, reinforce, and repair cables, hoses, and wire harnesses too, in a garage, workshop, basement, or attic.

Electrical panel, where it can improve safety, organization, and wire performance. However, this may not be one to DIY, and if you do, be sure the tubing you use is rated for the voltage and current levels. The shrink needs to be installed according to manufacturer instructions, safety standards, and regulations. It can be used to insulate and protect individual wires and cables, which may improve their lifespan, as well as reduce hazards. It can bundle cables, to organize wires and reduce clutter within the panel. Label and mark individual wires and components with heat shrink to identify components and organize. Use it to insulate and protect connections, which can reduce the possibility of shorts or arcing between terminals.

Now that you know the many ways you can use heat shrink tubing, shop at CableOrganizer® to get started on your projects today.

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