When looking for heat shrink cables, there are a few important things you should be aware of. The first is the width of the heat shrink. This affects how many times the wire must be pressed together before it becomes shrunk.
Another thing to look for is the stretchability of the heat shrink. This affects how easily the cable can be joined and stretched. Last, but not least, is the strength of the heat shrink.
Heat shrinking requires some kind of transfer paper or film to be used. These can be bought as thin sheets or rolls as needed, or just plain old regular heat shrinking material on top.
When using a standard length of heat shrinking material, it should be folded down under itself several times to reach desired thickness.
Choose the correct size heat shrink
When choosing the size heat shrink for your wire, there are three main factors to consider. The thickness of the wire you have, the diameter of the wire you have, and whether or not you need to remove some of the shrink tube.
Heat shrink is a clear material. This means that you can see the length of shrink tube left behind as it travels through your heating machine. This length of time is important to know when working with heat shrink as it requires more time than standard insulation material can provide.
In order for heat shrink to work, it must be inserted into a machine called a shrinker.
Calculate the length of heat shrink needed
When preparing wire for heat shrink, there are two main things to consider when determining how long the heat shrink will be needed.
The first is to determine the diameter of the wire. Most well-established heat shrink applications use 16-gauge wires in order to save on cost and time of processing.
Because of this, it is important to measure your wire before wrapping it. Using standard gauge will prevent too much stretching while heating, however.
The second is length of heat shrink needed. Standard length is approximately half the width of the wire, but very tight tolerance can be needed for safety reasons. Too much stretch will result in breakage or loss of protection for the wire.
To calculate your standard length of heat shrinks, take your standard gauge and multiply by .5 (half width x .5).
Cut the heat shrink to size
If you are cutting the heat shrink to size, do it carefully!
If you are using the thicker heat shrink, cut it to the following size: 16-18 gauge wire. If you are using thinner heat shrink, leave an extra couple of inches on the wire to allow for easier insertion of the insulation.
Make sure you have your wire in a good place before cutting. If your wire is too long, put it in a circle or Zip-tie and wrap until it is secure. If your wire is too short, put it in a circle or Zip-tie and wrap until it is secure.
Once cut, insert one end of the heat shrink into the insulation of your wire and then gently pull up on both ends to insert it into the Wire.
Apply the heat shrink to the wire
Once the heat shrink has cooled, put it to work! Arrange the wire in a cross-section pattern and wrap it snugly in the shrink.
Now, relax your muscles and starve the wire of heat. It will continue to cool down as it works, forcing the metal to expand before shrinking back down again. This continues until you have your desired size wire.
Try not cutting off the end of the wire until you are sure it will work! A lot of people cut off their wires due to overheating or cutting pain.
This method works for most thick wires such as 16-gauge steel or cast iron. For thinner materials such as copper or tin-plating wires, use less heat shrink fabric instead.
Heat the heat shrink to shape
Once the heat shrink is cool, you can start working with it!
First, you can either cut the heat shrink to length or wrap it length-wise if you need to. Then, you can start wrapping the wire around the heat shrink. Try not to pull too hard at first, as this could result in a damaged wrap.
Once it is wrapped and cooled, try cutting it to size and wrapping again! Then, burn it and listen to your laughter. That’s how you know it worked!
You may need to do this a few times until some of the heat escapes through the wrap and into your wire.
Allow to cool completely before using wire
When handling 16-gauge wire, be careful not to pull on the wire too hard. This can result in being overstretched or stripped of the metal, making it rattle when you touch it.
Because of this, non-meat objects such as wires and table legs can be used. However, meat objects such as meat machers or heat shrink tubes must be able to cool completely before use.
When using a heat shrink tube, first allow it to come up to temperature by leaving it out in the sun for an hour or two. Then wrap it up and put it under a humidifier if needed.
Be careful not to use a heat shrink tube that is too small! A small heat shrink tube will result in poor fit or loss of material when applied to the macher. This could lead to overheating and failure.
Use recommended materials only
Most wire heat shrink packages contain a minimum of 16-gauge wire. This is a neutral-heat wire that does not change color when it is hot or cold.
Because of this, there are no standard sizes of heat shrink for electrical connectors, soldering tips, and the like. Therefore, it is important to find the correct size for your connector.
To use heat shrink, first remove any excess plastic from one end of the wire. Then, place the wire between two plastic tabs on a heat shrink package. Make sure there are no marks or spaces between the two ends of the wire.
Heat until the plastic starts to lose its shape and relaxes, about half a minute.
Make sure wires are aligned properly before shrinking
When working with wires, placing a small amount of wire between two objects or layers of wire is helpful. This helps ensure you are working with even pressure and even gauge distribution.
When shrinking wire, the larger the gauge the bigger the cross-sectional area. This helps in making sure you are getting your lines of shrinkage, which are also bigger in size when shrunk.
16-gauge wire typically requires a little more effort than smaller wires such as 18- or 20-gauge. It may take some time to shut off the shrinker and begin shrinking, so take that into account.