Heat Shrink Tubing
If asked, most people would probably name Shrinky Dinks if they had to come up with something that shrinks when heat is applied. Something else that people might come up with, especially if they’re somewhat handy, would be heat shrink tubing. Heat shrink tubing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, it’s tubing that you use to cover something, then, you apply the proper amount of heat to shrink it, thus creating a tight seal. You can imagine how useful this might be. Even if you can't imagine it, it is quite useful and we'll get to a few of the ways that it is.
The origins of heat shrink tubing are better documented than many things in the world of handymen. Heat shrink tubing was developed through the 1950s, but finally broke out in the 60’s. Paul M. Cook of Raychem is credited with its invention, although the actual patent lists JD Wetmore of Raychem as the inventor. Cook was no slouch with science though, having gone to MIT, and this interview with him shows how involved he was in various projects as well as how he fostered an atmosphere of innovation at Raychem. At Cook’s direction, although heat shrink tubing was a high seller, Raychem improved the design and worked to replace the old tubing with a newer, better version. Since then, many other manufacturers began making heat shrink tubing as well. It’s become a great product that solves a lot of problems in an easy and convenient way, so it's no surprise there is a demand for it.
Most people will be using heat shrink tubing to seal up cable splices, insulate or protect wires (ensure the proper tubing is used), and organize/color code wires and cables. There are of course dozens of other uses and the limit is your own creativity. Some creative souls have come up with a list of eight or even 12 different hacks for heat shrink tubing. Some of them are: key silencer, headphone repair, reinforcing your phone charger, shoe lace repair, LED cluster holder, soft grip helping hands, wire repair and even easy repairs for drones and RC equipment. This helpful guide will give you some guidelines on how to apply heat shrink tubing for the best results.
Of course when you’re working with heat shrink tubing, you need the right tubing and the right heating tool to make it shrink. For example, if you’re using some heat shrink tubing to cover electrical wires, you want to make sure what you’re using is insulated and/or safe for electrical use. Here at EIO we carry all types of heat shrink tubing made by some of the most trusted manufacturers like: Ideal Tools, Velleman, 3M, and NTE Electronics. You should also get a heat gun and we carry several brands of those as well: Ideal, NTE Electronics, and Steinel. We also sell heat shrink crimping tools like this one made by Wiha. Of course not having a heat gun wouldn’t stop MacGuyver, so in a pinch you could use a hair dryer, and some have used light bulbs or lighters, but given the inefficiency and risk involved, you might as well just get the heat gun.
Since heat shrink tubing was invented more than 50 years ago it was an instant hit. It’s also become even better than when it first appeared to the world. It’s a widespread solution to a lot of problems and with a basic heat gun you can use it in a lot of places. Grab some heat shrink tubing from some of the most trusted manufacturers!