When installing pipeline or cable networks, you will often need to use shrinkable tubing to seal points of connection and avoid damage from environmental factors such as contaminants. Cold and heat shrink are two common types of adhesive tubing which can be used to seal a pipe or cable from leakage or environmental damage. These two types of tubing are used in much the same way, but cold shrink is often more costly. As such, you may wonder which is the overall better option. In this blog, we will discuss the difference between cold and heat shrink products, and evaluate which one is better for most applications.
What is The Difference Between Heat and Cold Shrink Tubing?
Heat shrink is a form of shrink tubing that is often made of Polyolefin-based materials. When the Polyolefin-based tubing is made, it begins at a specified diameter and then is expanded to create heat shrink tubing. To install such tubing, it must be placed onto the pipe or cable and then heated by flame or an electric tool that blows hot air. Because heat shrink maintains its shape, it will collapse to its original dimensions when heated, creating a tight seal. Cold shrink is similarly used to create a tight seal by contracting onto the pipe or cable, but no heat is required. Instead, piping made of either EPDM (Ethylene-Propylene-Diene-Monomer) or silicone rubber is expanded onto a spiral core during manufacturing. After the cold shrink is placed on the pipe or cable, the inner core is removed and the tubing contracts to its pre-stretched size. This contracted tubing will exert radial pressure on the internal line up until it is damaged or replaced.
Which is The Better Option?
Cold shrink is usually more expensive than heat shrink, but is the added cost really worth it? The short answer is, yes! Firstly, cold shrink requires no flame or hot air;therefore, it is safer in environments with flammable equipment. In opposition, even if an area is clear for use of high-heat, you will need the necessary permits and training before being able to use heat shrink equipment. The cost of these permits and training, in addition to the risk of damage, can quickly add up, and this could make using cold shrink products a much quicker, and possibly cheaper, option in the long run. Cold shrinks also take less time in general to install and are better suited to expand and collapse as needed during major shifts in temperature. Whereas heat shrinks contract to become a hardened plastic, cold shrinks stay elastic long after installation.
Note that while cold shrink is resistant to most temperature changes and contaminants, it can sustain wear from long term UV exposure. Regardless of whether you use heat shrink or cold shrink, it is crucial to regularly check tubing for signs of damage.
Heat shrinks and cold shrinks can both be effective ways of preventing damage to your cable system or pipeline. However, a cold shrink may often be the better option for its ease of installation and long term adaptability to changes in an environment. On Cogent Purchasing, we offer a wide variety of chemical products, along with other aviation, aerospace, and electronics equipment. If you are in need of cold shrink or other high quality components, let us assist you with a solution that is fit to your particular needs and situation. With a widespread network of suppliers we are well-equipped to offer reliable options with rapid lead times and cost savings. To get started, simply fill out a provided Request for Quote form on our website and expect to get a response within 15 minutes!
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