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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bulk Roll Shrink Sleeves

     Occasionally it comes up; a customer is trying to either: a) save a few dollars or b) maintain a high level of flexibility because they have a rather complicated job (multiple pipe sizes and bends in a variety of smaller quantities).  So the question is asked:  can I buy this material in a bulk roll and cut it myself?
Bulk Shrink Sleeve Roll
This is a 'bulk' roll of WPCT

     The simple answer is that YES, for most products; that is a viable option.  It gets just a little bit more complicated than that though; and here is why:

  1. You will definitely need to purchase closures as a separate line item.  They are required for every shrink sleeve (as illustrated here).
  2. When cutting the sleeves yourself, you must be certain that all cuts are single, continuous cuts.  A jagged edge on a shrink sleeve can sometimes result in the sleeve splitting during installation.  We have special equipment here to make sure this never happens with shrink sleeves that we cut.  You will absolutely have worse equipment to work with in the field than we have in our warehouse.
  3. Bulk rolls are generally sold in 100 foot rolls.  Let's say you are working with 20" OD pipe.  The standard cut length on a shrink sleeve for a 20" pipe is 71" (the circumference of the pipe plus a few inches of overlap).  From your 100 foot roll of material; you will get 16 shrink sleeves designed for a 20" pipe (WPCT 20000-11 as one example).  You will also have a 'tailing' left over.  This tailing will be ~64" long; unusable on your 20" pipe (because it is too short).  By buying bulk rolls; you are going to end up with ~5 feet of wasted material for every roll you cut.  If your project requires 20 rolls of material; you are going to end up with ~100 feet of wasted material that will go straight into the garbage.  I buy and sell Covalence heat shrink sleeves by the truck load; so that 5 foot piece of material is something I can sell.  I can turn it into 5 shrink sleeves for a 2" pipe; or 3 shrink sleeves for a 4.5" pipe.  So, for you it is waste.  For me, it is still inventory.  As a result; something like this can take away all cost advantage that a customer got from buying bulk rolls in the first place!
  4. Using bulk rolls in the field is MUCH harder than simply using a /UNI sleeve made by us.  You are taking a lot of risks and putting a lot of pressure on your field personnel for what turns out to be a very minimal gain.
     So, there just isn't a reason to purchase bulk rolls.  Even if there is an emergency at the job site and you have to have material today; we can always get large partials of material out same day to get a job started or keep a job going.  Always.  In addition; we keep many sizes of shrink sleeves here in stock at all times by the thousands.  Do yourself a favor.  Just buy the cut sleeves.

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