Cold shrink and heat shrink products perform the same basic functions. Like their heat shrink counterparts, cold shrink tubingand cold shrink end capscan be used for various applications, including splicing, terminating and environmentally-sealing various cables. 

There are, however, some important differences between the heat shrink and cold shrink categories and you need to make the right choice for your project. 

What is cold shrink? 

Cold shrink tubingand cold shrink end capsare made from a special kind of rubber sleeve with strong elastic properties. The open-ended cold shrink products are pre-stretched in the factory and held in an expanded state by a removable plastic core. 

To apply a cold shrink tube or end cap to a wire, cable, connection, joint or terminal, the installer simply holds the tube or end cap in place over the substrate and unwinds the supporting core. 

Just like heat shrink tubing, cold shrink can be used to repair, bundle and protect cables and other small parts. The rest of the article will consider some of the key differences between the product types to help you choose what’s right for your project.

Application

The key difference between cold shrink and heat shrink is how the product is applied. Cold shrink tubing and end caps will create a tight seal around any cable or connection, without the use of any specialised tools. 

Heat shrink products also come factory-stretched, but unlike cold shrink products, which contract thanks to their ‘active memory’, the only way to shrink heat shrink material is by applying consistent heat - usually with a heat gun. 

Using cold shrink products is quicker and easier than using heat shrink products. There are many places where using cold shrink products indoors and outdoors is essential because it is impractical to manoeuvre a heat gun. Cold shrink productsalso represent a lower risk to installers and to the public, particularly in environments where there is an elevated risk of fire or explosion. 

Material and properties

Most cold shrink tubing and end cap products are made from EPDM rubber. This material has good insulating properties for low and medium voltage applications. It also has high mechanical and abrasion resistance and can provide a permanent, durable environmental seal against contaminants like dust. 

Most heat shrink products are made using polyolefin-based materials. This material has good chemical resistance and, because it becomes very rigid once it is heated, it is also a good choice for mechanical protection. 

However, this rigidity also makes heat shrink tubing susceptible if the cable expands or contracts and can result in an environmental seal being lost over time. Generally, this means that heat shrink material is not good in areas where there is high heat or humidity. Heat shrink products may also need to be replaced more frequently than cold shrink products. 

Learn more about cold shrink on the Hilltop Products website or speak to a member of our sales team. Call: 01942 723 101.