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Heat & Cold Shrink FAQ


3M™ Heat Shrink Tubing Frequently Asked Questions

What applications use heat shrink tubing?
How do you shrink heat shrink tubing?
How long will it take my heat shrink tubing to shrink?
How is heat shrink tested?
Does it meet military, commercial or industrial specifications?
What is the lowest/highest temperature heat shrink tubing can withstand?
Is any heat shrink UV resistant?
What heat shrink tubing equipment would 3M recommend?
What Military Specifications does our tubing meet?
What UL file number does our tubing meet?
What is the cutting tolerance of my tubing?

What applications use heat shrink tubing?
Heat shrink tubing is used where you would need insulation and protective coverings for a wide variety of electrical, electronic and mechanical applications. Please refer to information sheets and Installation Instructions.

How do you shrink heat shrink tubing?
You shrink heat shrink tubing by using hot air guns, torches and ovens, depending on tubing material and tubing size. Please refer to the specific product data sheet for minimum shrink temperature requirements. You can also read our Tech Tip.

How long will it take my heat shrink tubing to shrink?
This information is not available due to the number of variables involved in tubing shrinkage. Some of these variables are:

  • Type of tubing
  • Diameter of tubing
  • Length of tubing
  • Type of material tubing is applied to
  • Type of heat gun, oven or torch used
  • Calibration of equipment

3M heat shrink tubings are manufactured to produce a quick recovery to a tight fit when the proper shrink temperatures are applied, and in most cases the recovery takes only a few minutes. The customer should be encouraged to determine rate of shrinkage in their own, unique application.

How is heat shrink tested?
Please refer to the data sheets for your specific tubing.

Does it meet military, commercial or industrial specifications?
Please refer to the "Applicable Specification" section on your specific tubing data sheet.

What is the lowest/highest temperature heat shrink tubing can withstand?
Please refer to your specific tubing data sheets for recommended continuous high/low temperature requirements. For high/low max temperatures, please test in your own unique application.

Is any heat shrink UV resistant?
Black color heat shrink tubing will have UV resistant qualities, however, only the heavy wall tubing are UV resistant.

What heat shrink tubing equipment would 3M recommend?
3M recommends the Steinel product line. These Steinel heat guns have been evaluated by 3M's laboratory and have demonstrated excellent performance on 3M tubings, soldering sleeves, and molded shapes. They have several features that make them superior to other guns on the market such as; light weight, ability to stand freely, rapid heating and good pricing. 3M recommends the Steinel HG3000SLE heat gun which is the top of the line. Other models have fewer features but may very well meet your needs. If you need additional literature, please call Steinel at (800) 852-4343.

3M Heat Shrink Tubing Product Compatible Heat Gun and Procedure

Soldering Sleeves

Use the Steinel HG3000SLE heat gun with reflector nozzle #07461. Set air flow on maximum and temperature to setting #11. This will give an air temperature of approximately 770° F.

Small Tubing(3/8" to 1/4")

Use the Steinel HG3000SLE heat gun with reflector nozzle #07061. Air flow and temperature can be adjusted to operator preference for the particular tubing.

Mid-Sized Tubing(3/8" to 3/4") & Small Molded Shapes

Use the Steinel HG3000SLE heat gun with a reflector nozzle #07051. Air flow and temperature can be adjusted to operator preference for the particular tubing.

Large Tubing(1" and larger) & Large Molded Shapes

Use the Steingel HG3000SLE heat gun without a reflector. Air flow and temperature can be adjusted to operator preference for the particular tubing.

There are several heat shrink products on the market. Although 3M does not recommend a specific brand, Steinel heat guns work with 3M tubings, soldering sleeves, and molded shapes. The HG3000SLE is the top of the line. Other models have fewer features but may very well meet the customer's needs. Soldering Sleeves: Use the Steinel HG3000SLE heat gun with reflector nozzle #07461. Set air flow on maximum and temperature to setting #11. This will give an air temperature of approximately 770° F per the attached graph. Small Tubing (3/8" to ¼"): Use the Steinel HG3000SLE heat gun with reflector nozzle #07061. Air flow and temperature can be adjusted to operator perference for the particular tubing. Mid-Sized Tubing (3/8" to ¾") and Small Molded Shapes: Use the Steinel HG3000SLE heat gun with a reflector nozzle #07051. Air flow and temperature can be adjusted to operator preference for the particular tubing. Large Tubing (1" and larger) and Large Molded Shapes: Use the Steinel HG3000SLE heat gun without a reflector. Air flow and temperature can be adjusted to operator preference for the particular tubing. Additional Literature - If you or your distributors need additional literature, please call Steinel at (800) 852-4343.

What Military Specifications does our tubing meet?
Most 3M tubings meet Mil-DTL-23053, the accepted military specification titled "General Specification for Insulation Sleeving, Electrical, Heat Shrinkable". For more information, please refer to our Military Specifications.

What UL file number does our tubing meet?
Please refer to your specific tubing data sheet for the UL file number.

What is the cutting tolerance of my tubing?
Please refer to the following Standard Cutting Tolerances Table (thin wall heat shrink only).

Size (I.D.) (inches) Length of Cut Pieces (inches)

1/4" to 3"

3" to 12"

12" to 24"

24" to 48"

 

3/64" to 3/8"

±0.030"

±0.125"

±0.250"

±0.500"

1/2" to 4"

±0.060"

±0.125"

±0.250"

±0.500"

3M Heat Shrink Tubings are manufactured according to industry and military standards to provide an effective means of applying electrical insulating and protective coverings for a wide variety of applications. Heat shrink tubings are fabricated from materials which are processed by electron beam cross linking to convert them into thermoset materials that will shrink, or recover, to their original extruded size.

Most 3M tubings meet Mil-DTL-23053, the accepted military specification titled General Specification for Insulation Sleeving, Electrical, Heat Shrinkable. This military spec outlines materials, tests, test methods, inspection methods, storage life, and packaging requirements for tubings. Section 3.3 of the mil spec outlines the requirements for measuring dimensions and tolerances.

The tolerances for inside diameter as supplied, inside diameter after unrestricted shrinkage, and wall thickness after unrestricted shrinkage are stated on each specification sheet. These sheets detail the type of material used to manufacture the heat shrink tubing, and are also known as "slash sheets" due to the way the mil spec product is partially identified, such as Mil-I-23053/5 for a flexible polyolefin cross-linked tubing. The inside diameter size requirement for tubing, as supplied, is expressed as ID minimum. The tubing must be at least the size given in the construction chart, and is manufactured so that it would actually fit over a mandrel or rod of that size. The size requirement for recovered ID maximum is generally the most critical size requirement for application, and 3M tubings are manufactured to accurately and consistently meet this requirement. The wall thickness after unrestricted shrinkage is the only wall thickness requirement included in the mil spec, and is the only wall thickness data available in company literature as military and industry standards dictate. The wall thickness tolerance for each type of material and each diameter of tubing is different and can be verified on the mil spec slash sheets.

Another industry standard or "rule of thumb" is called the 20% rule. This is the practice of sizing the tubing properly to allow the tubing to shrink at least 20% to minimize the stress placed upon the tubing, and minimize the chance for splitting. Sizing tubing this way also allows for proper wall thickness to provide good dielectric strength. Remember: heat shrink tubings are manufactured to shrink from an expanded (as supplied) size down to a recovered size.