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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Heat Shrink Pipe Coating

Heat Shrink Pipe Coatings

     Heat shrink pipe coatings have been in use for more than four decades (along with heat shrink used for wire splicing, cable repair and many other applications).  For most of those decades, Raychem Corporation was THE industry leader in heat shrinkable technologies; led by their visionary leader: Paul Cook (who essentially commercialized and popularized radiation crosslinking and radiation chemistry).  The rest, as they say, is history. 
three layer field joint
Here we see a field joint, just prior to heat shrink sleeve installation.
     Though the most obvious use for a heat shrink sleeve is on polyethylene coated pipe (as seen in the photo above), by far the most common pipeline coating combination is fusion bond epoxy (FBE) as the mainline pipeline coating and heat shrink sleeves as the field joint coating.  We sell (literally) hundreds of thousands of heat shrink sleeves per year - and I can honestly say that ~90% of those will be used on FBE coated pipelines. 

     When determining what specific heat shrink sleeve material to use on your pipeline girth welds (which is hopefully happening very early in the specification process...rather than happening while construction crew is standing on a pipeline spread staring down at some welded pipe joints....) it is important that you are making an informed decision.  There are number of factors that are very important...such as:
  1. Pipeline operating temperature (once the line is in service - sometimes called Design Temp)
  2. Outside Diameter of the pipeline (hopefully this is an easy one!)
  3. Factory applied mainline pipeline coating and cutback sizes
  4. Soil conditions (rocky? sandy? clay? subsea? above ground?)
     If we have access to that information, we have a good head start on making sure you are going to be using an appropriate material.  The fastest way to a coating / corrosion problem is to select and use an inappropriate product for your pipeline.  

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