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Guide: Applying Heat Shrink Tubing

With nearly 50 years of experience in all things heat shrink tubing and electrical sleeves, our team at Electro Insulation would like to provide you with valuable information that all first-time users should know.

 Guide: Applying Heat Shrink Tubing

Pre-Shrinking Checklist:

 Be prepared for your heat shrinking project with a few of our pre-checklist items that will ensure safety and accuracy.

  1. Make sure you have all the materials needed: Heat shrink tubing, heat gun or heat shrink oven, and scissors
  2. Check the heating temperature and specifications of the selected tubing
  3. Consider the environment that you’ll be applying the heat shrink in – heat guns get hot enough to ignite surrounding certain materials
  4. Make sure that the area is well ventilated while the heat gun is in use
  5. Measure the outer diameter of the wire of the substrate that the heat shrink will be applied over

Did you know:

  • Heat shrink is sold by its expanded (before being heated/shrunk) inner diameter
  • Most heat shrink comes in a 2:1 shrink ratio; plan to use a diameter that will shrink to a slightly smaller recovered diameter than the outer diameter of the wire that you’re shrinking it over
  • Never use open flame to shrink heat shrink tubing
  • Allow the assembly to cool before handling or touching it with bare hands
  • Avoid overheating the heat shrink tubing so that you do not damage your assembly and surrounding materials

Application Steps:

  1. Measure the diameter of the wire that the heat shrink tubing will be applied to.
  2. Measure the length of the area of wire that the heat shrink tubing will be applied to. You’ll want at least ¼” overlap to cover your splice and account for the possible 3%-10% longitudinal shrinkage that can occur.
  3. Slide the heat shrink over the wire that you are using. Center the tubing over the area of the wires to be sliced so that there is equal overlap on both sides.
  4. Evenly apply heat around the diameter of the tube by rotating the assembly or using a heat gun with a reflector. Continually move the heat gun back and forth to evenly shrink the tubing and avoid damaging your wires with too much heat.

Ask the Experts:

  • What are some common problems that may be experienced when applying heat shrink tubing?
    • Using too much heat for the type of heat shrink tubing being applied
    • Not allowing the heat shrink tubing to fully recover (not completely shrinking it)
    • Damaging the insulation on the wires being sliced with too much heat
    • After using your heat gun, it is a good practice to allow it to run on the “air only” or “heat off” setting for a minute. This allows the heating element to cool down prior to turning the gun off
  • What tools are needed for applying heat shrink tubing?
    • Heat shrink tubing
    • Heat gun or heat shrink oven
    • Scissors
    • Safety glasses
    • Respirator
    • Fire extinguisher

Have more questions? Visit of Frequently Asked Questions to learn more or Contact Us today to learn more! 

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