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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Maximum Installation Temperature of a Heat Shrink Sleeve

Question:  What is the maximum installation temperature for a shrink sleeve?  I see that it shrinks at 275F, but what temperature do I need to avoid exceeding?

Answer:  If you're talking about during installation:  As you already know, the sleeve will shrink when the temperature of the backing reaches ~275 degrees F.  That is the crystalline melt point for the PE backing.  In the Pipeline world; these products are typically installed with a propane torch that can operate up into the 1000's of degrees.  For that reason, it is important that the torch is always moving.  Because the sleeve has been radiation crosslinked, it will no longer melt (one of the advantages of cross linking) but it can still burn - and a portion of that backing being heated toward 1000 degrees would surely cause significant, noticeable problems.

All of that to say:  there is no "REAL" maximum temperature to exceed during installation.  Keep the torch moving.  If you see the sleeve backing begin to catch fire - or beginning to smoke - then you are not moving your torch around enough and you are probably on the path to causing damage (though it takes a lot to cause damage).

If you were shrinking the sleeve in an oven (as an example) you would likely leave the temperature at ~280F.  Hot enough to shrink the sleeve, with no reason to heat it higher than that.

 (for more info read: "What is the effect of overheating a heat shrink sleeve?")

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