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Heat Shrink Tubing and Cool Shrink Tubing

Heat shrink tubing was invented in the 1950’s by Paul Cook, the chemical engineer founder of Raychem Corporation. It was a solution to the intricate problem of weatherproofing wires and other conductive materials while protecting them from abrasions and physical damage. This efficient material is typically made of shrinkable plastic which activates through heat. Sizes range widely and depend on the application. Small electronics require miniscule diameter tubing, while automotive applications will have tubes which shrink at up to 3:1 ratios.

Colour

Colour coding is extremely important in any electrical project. It helps with identification and organisation, and can even impart a nice aesthetic look especially in custom computer building. Pick the classic black tubing colour if you don’t care for coding or if the job doesn’t require any type of organisation system. But a pack of tubes in multiple colours and sizes will help greatly for any electronics projects, from building speakers to wiring up the electrical systems in your car.

Material

There is a range of thermoplastics of which the tubings can be made, including but not limited to polyolefin, PVC and polytetrafluoroethylene. Some tubings even contain layers of heat-activated adhesive lining not only to prevent the tube from sliding after shrinking, but also to make the bundle of wires more rigidly harnessed.

Types

Insulating heat shrink and cool shrink tubing are the most common types. Cool shrink tubing does the same thing without the heat. These electrical tubings are shipped in a pre-expanded state and assembled on top of a removable core. When you remove the core after positioning the tube over the cable, the tubing will shrink and provide a moisture-tight seal. You can also buy conductive heat shrink tubing which contains a layer of polymer thick film in the interior, which eliminates the need for actually soldering wires together without sacrificing a solid shrink.

Other Electrical Essentials

When planning and executing a project, it’s best to remain stocked with electrical essentials like electrical conduits, conduit fittings, solder, flux and other consumables. Nothing is worse than a project that would otherwise go along smoothly if not for that missing fitting or fastener that you forgot your were running low on.

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