The quick answer is most definitely yes heat shrink and braided sleeving can be cut into pieces or to shorter lengths. However, sleeving cannot be cut length ways.
Why can’t you cut heat shrink length-ways?
Heat shrink is manufactured to the shrunk size, stretched and then sold. (Wikipedia explains the manufacturing process in a bit more detail).
Cutting it cross-ways is fine. But, when you cut tubing length-ways it loses integrity which is why we don’t recommend it.
There are various forums where people have tried different suggestions – spiral cuts, gluing etc but they all have the same problem, lack of integrity – e.g. no longer waterproof and it no longer protects against the environment.
If you’re struggling with an “interesting” configuration, have you considered heat shrink boots and/or moulded parts?
How can you cut heat shrink?
Heat shrink can be cut in a variety of ways depending on the needs of cut lengths. Do bear in mind there is some shrinkage lengthwise. You should factor in about 10% reduction. So if you need 1.0cm, cut to 1.1cm.
1. Doing it yourself
A ruler and a pair of scissors (or a sharp knife) will mostly do the job especially if exact lengths aren’t required and you are cutting just a small amount yourself.
If the heat shrink tubing you have won’t fit over obstructions (like a connector), then what you have won’t do the job. (This is where people try cutting longways). In order to solve this issue, you may need a heat shrink with a larger heat shrink ratio so that it fits over the obstruction yet still shrinks to the size you need. Still unsure? Contact us and we’ll help.
2. Cutting with machinery
When you need exact dimensions or need to scale up the quantity (or both) then you’ll need bigger cutting equipment. There are specialist tools to do the job. They include:
- Vertical blade cutters
- Tolerance cutters
- High volume cutters
You’ll probably need a specialist organisation to do this for you. (Hint: That means us with our inhouse facility).
How we can help
We have our own in-house cutting shop. This means we can supply specific lengths on almost all of the tubings and sleevings we sell. We can cut to just about any length needed and our equipment allows for very tight tolerances.
Here’s a quick list of methods available from our cutting shop:
- Hot knife cutters – for cutting braid and prevent fraying
- Standard vertical blade cutters – for accurate and clean heat shrink sleeve cutting
- Tolerance cutters – for tight cut length tolerances and a controlled angle of cut
- High volume commercial – used for high quantity runs
We provide, as standard, bags containing tubing cut into:
- 100 pieces
- 250 pieces
- 500 pieces
- 1000 pieces
If you need something different to the standard offerings above, e.g. bulk enquiries or small batch runs, then do let us know. We’re more than happy to help and numbers can be customised to suit.
To sum up …
Can you cut heat shrink tubing? Yes, you can. So how would you like it cut?