FEP, PTFE and PFA are all fluoroplastics used to make heat shrink tubing. But what, exactly, are their differences? Read on to discover why fluoroplastics make ideal heat shrink materials and which fluoroplastic heat shrink tubing is best suited to your application.
Fluoroplastics are a group of plastics which due to their molecular build, are chemically inert, have high and low temperature stability and have a low coefficient of friction meaning that they are non-stick. As a result, they are highly desirable materials in a wide range of industries such as the mechanical, electrical and medical and are used to create a myriad of specialist equipment and products.
Due to their high resistance to heat and chemicals, fluoroplastics are renowned as the ideal material to insulate wires, provide abrasion resistance and environmental protection for certain wire joints, conductors, connectors and terminals within electrical work. This process is called heat shrink tubing and can be formed from a range of fluoropolymers, each with varying characteristics and working performance.
As there is a selection of heat shrink polymers, different fluoroplastic heat shrink tubing will have different strengths and be suitable for different applications. To help make them easier to understand, we’ve compiled a list of the different types of fluoroplastic heat shrink tubing.
Best for: Encapsulating sensitive electrical components and instrumentation.
For a truly tough fluoroplastic, FEP can’t be beaten. This type of heat shrink tubing offers all the unique properties of fluoroplastics and can be safely shrunk over temperature sensitive materials with no fear of causing damage. With total chemical and UV resistance, FEP has the additional advantage of having both high and low working temperatures, starting as low as -200°C. that goes right up to +200°C and remains flexible at cryogenic temperatures.
FEP heat shrink applications include cable jackets, non-stick rollers, sensor and probe covers, hose protection and electrical terminal insulation. Find out more about FEP Heat Shrink Tubing.
Best for: Complex profiles that require a high shrink ratio and protection against chemicals and high temperatures.
The major characteristic of PTFE high temperature heat shrink is its upper continuous working temperature of a remarkable 260°C, exceeding that of any other heat shrink polymer. Similarly to FEP, PTFE is resistant to nearly all chemicals and ideal for applications in electrical insulation and protection of electronic components.
PTFE heat shrink is available in 2:1 and 4:1 ratio and is particularly adept at covering complex shapes and terminals. Therefore, PTFE is routinely used in applications such as terminal insulation on heating elements and jet engines, UV lamps and external aircraft fittings. Find out more about PTFE Heat Shrink Tubing.
Best for: Temperature sensitive applications that require a very high working temperature.
With a low shrink temperature of 110°C and maximum working temperature up to 260°C, PFA heat shrink finds use in temperature sensitive and chemically resistant applications. It is routinely thermoformed to create closed end covers and can be safely shrunk over temperature sensitive materials without causing damage. Find out more about PFA Heat Shrink Tubing.
Best for: Completely encapsulating components that require a high working temperature, non-stick surface, high electrical and chemical resistance.
The PTFE/ FEP dual wall heat shrink differentiates itself in that it merges two different fluoroplastics: PTFE and FEP. It consists of an outer sleeve of PTFE heat shrink, with an integral inner wall of FEP which when the outer sleeve is shrunk down, melts the inner FEP and flows over the component that is underneath which when cooled, encapsulates the component.
PTFE/ FEP dual wall heat shrink applications include wire and cable harnesses and connectors where moisture or corrosive fluids threaten damage due to its excellent protection against mechanical and chemical exposure. Find out more about PTFE/ FEP Dual Wall Heat Shrink Tubing.
Best for: Applications within the oil and geological industry.
Geo-Shrink® heat shrink is our sleeving made from special fluoropolymers developed over 25 years ago and has since gained acceptance with core analysis contractors, oil company exploration and production research laboratories.
Characteristics that set the Geo-Shrink® sleeving apart include its ability to be shrunk onto frozen, punched and standard core plugs, a relatively low shrinkage temperature and its total resistance to simulation brine. This makes it well suited for specialist geological techniques like unconsolidated/ friable reservoir sediment core analysis. Find out more about Geo-Shrink® Heat Shrink Sleeving.
Best for: Less technical applications in electrical insulation and cable termination.
As Polyolefin is used for less technical applications, this is a great cost effective alternative general-purpose heat shrink sleeving. It is manufactured with modified radiation cross-linked polyolefin, a form of insulation produced through heat and high pressure. This formulation means that the tubing is very flexible and able to shrink at temperatures as low as 70°C, and has working temperatures between -55° to +125 °C. Find out more about Polyolefin Heat Shrink Tubing.