Heat shrink is one of those tried-and-true products fixing everything that withstands high heat, from metal to thick plastics. In fact, this video shows a savvy consumer fixing his vehicle’s air intake with heat shrink, showing that even cars have a temporary solution with heat shrink. However, there are many safety concerns regarding heat shrink, making it critical to use this material only for specific projects.
Choose the Right Size
Heat shrink usually comes in cylindrical shapes with varying diameters and material thicknesses. Consider your project’s size and match it to the heat shrink’s diameter. The heat shrink should be wider than your item, allowing it to easily slide on. It should also have a suitable thickness to avoid cracking or splitting during the heating process. If you have a particularly sharp or heavy-duty item to fix, use thicker heat shrink. For basic wire insulation projects, thin heat shrink is more than adequate. It should last longer than any other connection strategy, such as duct or electrical tape.
The choice of heat tools is considerable, but most people use the traditional heat gun for the best results. It’s possible to use a torch for experienced technicians. A torch gives off an actual flame, however, making it crucial to keep the flame off the heat shrink to avoid melting it improperly. Other savvy heat shrink enthusiasts place their item in an oven to activate the material evenly across its surface. Whatever your heat tool selection is, follow all safety precautions to keep yourself safe from harm. Burns are a risk of this repair tactic.
The Heating Process
For torches and heat guns, activate the tool and move it carefully toward your item. The heat shrink should already be placed on the right area to cover permanently. This also applies to oven heating strategies. Wear a glove on your free hand to avoid any accidental burns. Carefully turn your item as the heat shrink slowly adheres to the surface. Ideally, you want the material to conform around the item uniformly. Pull the tool away from the heat shrink if it appears to warp. Although you’re heating it, the heat shrink shouldn’t have any damage to its outer surface.
Check for Damage
Heat shrink may seem to adhere quickly to the item’s surface. Once you see a lapse in shrinking action, turn the tool off. Inspect the item for any damage. Heat shrink that has been excessively heated could develop low areas and warping. Any accidental cuts into the heat shrink prior to installation will be amplified, allowing the item to spill out of these bulging holes. If you see any significant damage, cut the heat shrink off and try again. Adhering this material to your items is an art so repeating the process isn’t unheard of for amateur users.
Even if you follow all the instructions, use your best judgment when using heat shrink. This seemingly perfect repair strategy does use excessive heat to work, requiring a sharp eye and hand to safely activate the material.