What Material is Best?

Which Heat-Shrinkable tubing material should I use?

In selecting the best type of tubing for your application, the critical factor to consider is the environment where tubing will be used.

Select the tubing material that operates within the temperature range of the environment.
Material Temperature Range
Polyolefin -55°C to 135°C
PVC -20°C to 105°C
Cross-Linked PVC -20°C to 105°C
Multi-Wall Polyolefin -55°C to 110°C
Multi-Wall PVC -20°C to 105°C
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF) -55°C to 175°C
Chlorinated Polyolefin Elastomer -70°C to 121°C
Fluoroelastomer -55°C to 200°C
Medical Grade -55°C to 121°C
Food Grade -55°C to 121°C

Will the tubing stand up to abrasion or will it be used to provide protection from damage and abuse?

MaterialAbrasion Resistance
Cross-Linked PVCExcellent
Multi-Wall PolyolefinGood
Multi-Wall PVCExcellent
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF)Excellent
Chlorinated Polyolefin ElastomerExcellent
Medical GradeExcellent
Food GradeExcellent
Will the tubing stand up to abrasion or will it be used to provide protection from damage and abuse?
Material Acids Solvents Fuels/Oils
Polyolefin Excellent Good Good
PVC Excellent Excellent Excellent
Cross-Linked PVC Excellent Excellent Excellent
Multi-Wall Polyolefin Excellent Good Good
Multi-Wall PVC Excellent Excellent Excellent
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF) Excellent Excellent Excellent
Chlorinated Polyolefin Elastomer Excellent Good Excellent
Fluoroelastomer Excellent Excellent Excellent
Medical Grade Resists a Wide Range of Chemicals
Food Grade Resists Many Chemicals & Oils
Tensile Strength is a measurement of the amount of stretching required to break or rupture the tubing. Tensile strength may be affected by the thickness of the tubing wall.
Material Tensile Strength
Polyolefin 1,500 psi
2,600 psi
PVC 3,000 psi
Cross-Linked PVC 3,000 psi
Multi-Wall Polyolefin 2,100 psi
2,200 psi
Multi-Wall PVC 3,000 psi
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF) 5,500 psi
Chlorinated Polyolefin Elastomer 2,100 psi
Fluoroelastomer 2,400 psi
Medical Grade 3,200 psi
3,600 psi
Food Grade 2,500 psi

Dielectric Strength is a measure of the electrical insulation provided – the voltage that the tubing can withstand before dielectric breakdown occurs.

MaterialDielectric Strength
Polyolefin500 vpm
900 vpm
PVC1,083 vpm
Cross-Linked PVC1,083 vpm
Multi-Wall Polyolefin700 vpm
800 vpm
900 vpm
Multi-Wall PVC1,083 vpm
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF)900 vpm
Chlorinated Polyolefin Elastomer800 vpm
Fluoroelastomer500 vpm
Medical Grade1,800 vpm
2,000 vpm
Food Grade1,800 vpm
MaterialWater Resistance
Multi-Wall PolyolefinProvides Flexible, Tough, Permanent, Water Resistant Protection
Multi-Wall PVCProvides Permanent, Water & Salt Water Resistant Protection, Excellent UV Resistance for Outdoor Applications, Irradiated Multi-Wall PVC Available
Medical GradeSelf-Sealing – Unique Heat Sealable Property Without Glue Prevents Moisture from Entering Into the Underlying Substrate
Material Flexibility
Polyolefin Very Flexible
PVC Flexible
Cross-Linked PVC Flexible
Multi-Wall Polyolefin Flexible
Multi-Wall PVC Flexible
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF) Semi-Rigid
Chlorinated Polyolefin Elastomer Flexible – Even at Low Temperatures
Fluoroelastomer Very Flexible
Medical Grade Flexible
Food Grade Flexible

Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) operates a testing and accreditation service for electrical and electronic materials and equipment. VW-1 is a flammability test conducted by UL or CSA (Canadian Testing Standards). Tubing with a VW-1 rating is highly flame-retardant.

MaterialUL VW-1 Flammability
PolyolefinUL VW-1 Colors Only – Not Clear
PVCUL VW-1 Colors & Clear
Cross-Linked PVCUL VW-1 Colors & Clear
Multi-Wall PolyolefinUL VW-1 Outer Jacket
Multi-Wall PVCUL VW-1 Outer Jacket
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF)UL VW-1
Chlorinated Polyolefin ElastomerNo
Will the tubing be exposed to UV light in outdoor applications?
Material UV Resistance
Polyolefin Poor
PVC Excellent
Cross-Linked PVC Excellent
Multi-Wall Polyolefin Poor
Multi-Wall PVC Excellent
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF) Fair
Chlorinated Polyolefin Elastomer Good
Fluoroelastomer Fair
Medical Grade NA
Food Grade NA

Heat shrink tubing shrinks and conforms to the underlying materials. The greater the size variations of the underlying materials being covered, the larger the shrink ratio required.

Material Shrink Ratio
Polyolefin 2:1
PVC 2:1
Cross-Linked PVC 2:1
Multi-Wall Polyolefin 2:1
Multi-Wall PVC 2:1
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF) 2:1
Chlorinated Polyolefin Elastomer 2:1
Fluoroelastomer 2:1
Medical Grade 2:1
Food Grade 2:1

In addition to its standard colors, Insultab does custom color matching.

MaterialStandard Colors
PolyolefinBlack, Clear, White, Red, Yellow, Green, Blue
PVCBlack, Clear, White, Red, Yellow, Blue
Bright Colors – Crystal Clear
Cross-Linked PVCBlack
Multi-Wall PolyolefinBlack
Multi-Wall PVCBlack
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF)Translucent
Chlorinated Polyolefin ElastomerBlack
Medical GradeBlack, Clear, Blue, White
Food GradeBlack, Clear, Blue, White
A quick overview of the special operational features of the various tubing materials.
Material Special Features
Polyolefin Excellent Electrical, Chemical, Physical Properties
PVC 30% Stronger than Polyolefin, Low Shrink Temperature, Clear & Vivid Colors are UL VW-1, Excellent UV Resistance
Cross-Linked PVC Irradiated, 30% Stronger than Polyolefin, Highly Abrasion Resistant, Excellent UV Resistance
Multi-Wall Polyolefin Provides Permanent, Water Resistant Protection, Flame Retardant Jacket
Multi-Wall PVC Provides Permanent, Water Resistant Protection, Excellent UV Resistance, Flame Retardant Jacket, Irradiated Multi-Wall PVC Available
Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF) High Abrasion, Cut-Through, High Temperature Resistance, Flame Retardant, Transparent
Chlorinated Polyolefin Elastomer Broad Operating Temperature Range, Excellent in Severe Outdoor Environments and Rugged Applications
Fluoroelastomer Excellent Continuous High Temperature Operating Performance
Medical Grade Highly Lubricious, Non-Toxic, Self-Sealing, Meets USP Class VI Requirements
Food Grade Environmentally Friendly, Resists Sunlight, Moisture, Fungus, Meets USFDA Requirements
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