Shrink Sleeves vs Wax Tape
This one comes up fairly often. What is the difference between wax tape and shrink sleeves? or Are shrink sleeves better than wax tape? or Technical comparison of shrink sleeves and wax tape? And many other variations of that same phrase.
First of all, let me disclose that I do not sell very many wax tapes. We do occasionally sell some petrolatum tapes, but not often. I'd also like to be clear - there are some applications where a wax tape would be clearly the right choice. Wax tapes (because they are so malleable) are very good for coating highly irregular substrates. They do a good job on well heads and on some fittings where the simple physics of a heat shrinkable sleeve will simply not work. But which is technically superior?
Rather than try to convince you, I think I'd rather simply share the data here as reported on product data sheets. I will not leave anything off. I will not skip anything.
Wax Tape #1 - Data
Thickness: 70-90 mils
Weight: 4lbs/sq yd
Dielectric Strength: 170 volts/mil
Application Temperature: 0F to 110F
Operating Temperature: -50F to 120F
Saturant Pour Point: 115F to 125F
Wax Tape #2 - Data
Thickness: 46 mils
Weight: .295 lbs/ft2
Breaking Strength: 22.5 lb/in
Water Vapor Transmission: .006 perms avg
Elongation @ Break: 10% avg
Breakdown Voltage (55% overlap): 16 kV min.
Resistance to Cathodic Disbondment: .28" avg
Resistance to Acids, Alkalies and Salts: Excellent
Maximum Service Temperature: 158F
So there you have it. All of the data I could find from two different wax tape manufacturers. Not a whole lot there, really. I find it particularly strange that there is no mention of peel values, shear values, penetration resistance or impact resistance.
So lets look at one of our products: WPC100M
WPC100M Shrink Sleeve - Data
Tensile Strength @ 23C and 80C (2200 psi min / 200 psi min)
Elongation to Break @ 23C and 80C (400% min / 500% min)
Heat Aging Followed by Elongation to Break @ 150C / 23C (200% minimum)
Volume Resistivity @ 23C (10-14 ohm-cm min)
Shore D Hardness @ 23C (50 min)
Shrink Force @ 150C (35 psi min)
Toughness @ 23C (30,000 psi min)
Lap Shear Strength @ 23C and 80C (30 psi min / 3 psi min)
Softening Point 135 + or - 10 C
Cathodic Disbondment @ 80C (25mm max)
Peel Strength to Steel @ 23C and 80C (30 pli min / 1 pli min)
Impact Resistance @ 23C (40 in-lbs)
Penetration Resistance @ 80C (no holiday with 12kV detector)
Moisture Vapor Transmission @ 38C (.08 max)
Low Temp Flex -40C max
Effect of Temperature on Installed Sleeve @ 100C (no swelling, wrinkling or lift up from pipe surface).
Total Thickness Fully Recovered (111 mils)
I think the question: "is there a technical difference between shrink sleeves and wax tape is clear after a simple look at the different data sheets.