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Monday, December 9, 2013

What is the Widest Shrink Sleeve?

What is the Widest Shrink Sleeve for Pipeline Use?

heat shrink widths
Here we see the different shrink sleeve widths available:  11", 17", 24" and 34"

    It is a fairly common question I get:  What is the widest shrink sleeve you have?  On the pipeline side, the answer is pretty much always 34" (on the electrical side - the answer is almost limitless as there are many products sold in tubular form as rolls which can be 50 or more feet long).  Now, why do people ask that question?  It varies.

     In a case where someone needs to coat a long length of pipe (or at least a length longer than a few feet) they want the widest shrink sleeve because they want to install fewer sleeves.  In a case like that; 34" wide sleeves work very well (as illustrated here in our lobster tailing video):

     In other cases, perhaps someone wants to have as much overlap as is possible to give their field joint coating the 'safest' possible application.  To put some numbers to it; the cutback on a standard field joint of FBE coated pipe will likely have only 3 or so inches of bare steel.  If someone installs a 34" wide sleeve on that field joint; they will end up with as much as 15" of overlap onto the adjacent factory applied FBE.  Wow, that is a lot of overlap!  It would certainly be difficult to imagine water somehow working its way through 15" of installed shrink sleeve!  Is that overkill?  In my opinion, it is certainly unnecessary.

     Finally, I see cases where an end user or a contractor has contacted a supply house looking for shrink sleeve.  In some of those cases (rare, I promise!) that supply house isn't able (or willing) to determine what the cutbacks, factory applied coatings, etc are for a pipeline project.  In order to keep things as simple as they can, they ask me "what is the widest sleeve you've got?  Give me that one".  Not a good plan, in my opinion, but I do at least understand the mind set - "better safe than sorry".

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