Where is the best place to buy heat shrink tubing?
We explain what to look for when you buy heat shrink tubing, so that you get the correct product needed for a successful project …
You’re ready to buy it but need to know where is the best place to buy it from? Actually, rather than asking “Where can I buy heat shrink”, a better question might be…
“Which company can help me make this project a success? After I’ve applied the product and shrunk it with a heat gun, I don’t want the tube to still be sliding up and down like kitchen roll liner on a washing line!”
That’s just one of the possible pitfalls in choosing the wrong product. Here’s a list of six and a half things to help you decide where to buy your tubing.
1. Location, Location, Location
What should you watch out for when choosing a supplier? Their location details are a useful starting point – check the supplier’s website.
They don’t need to be just up the road, but do check for a physical address. If there are no contact methods other than the contact form, then alarm bells should start ringing.
Are they in the UK for straightforward delivery rather than you having to buy from overseas (and possibly having to deal with import issues through Customs).
Is it a bare bones site with just products, a shopping cart and no supporting information? In other words are they just a warehouse (or drop shipper) after the next quick sale.
Is there a contact number so you can call for support? Talking of support …
2. Technical knowledge
Does your prospective supplier have the technical knowhow to support your purchase?
Getting the right product is more than just a quick transaction to buy the right diameter and shrink ratio. It needs to to work long after it’s been installed and that means planning for factors that could degrade the sleeving.
There’s more to know than just the product though. Has your potential supplier experience of their products in multiple markets? It’s great if they’re specialists in the communications niche but if you need the product to survive in a harsh marine environment then you’ll need support and expert knowledge that will help you make the right choice.
3. Colours (and other options)
If the technical knowledge is available but the only colour is black (and you need red) then obviously that’s an issue. A wide range of colours, options and specifications will make sure that, for example, when you need a low outgassing heat shrink for a satellite comms module operating in space it’s there for you without having to start your search again for yet another supplier for this new requirement.
4. Technical Services – cut to size
Can your prospective supplier support you after you’ve selected the product? Do you need it cut to a specific size or in a special way? For example:
- Straight cut
- Angled cut
- High tolerance cut
- High volume
After it’s been cut, would it help to have it put into a kit for your team? Different sizes, colours and lengths all ready and prepared (as per your component list or bill of materials) so all your assembly team need to do is open the lid of the kit and start work.
Let’s not stop there though…
5. Technical Services – printed and posted
Would it help to have your heat shrink printed with your logo, serial numbers or other useful text/graphics? If this is important then wouldn’t it be more efficient to have it done by your supplier, rather than sending the products on to a print shop.
Talking of sending things…
How would you like your product packaged? In a bespoke wrapping with your branding (or your customers’)? Palletised?
Once it is on its way, there’s the problem of where to store it. Can your supplier keep it for you until you are ready (just-in-time)? Would it help to plan the inventory and delivery scheduling?
6. Mind the quality
So far everything is going to plan – you’ve found a supplier who can provide the right product, backed up with the experienced technical knowhow and cut and printed just how you need it … hopefully.
If when the product finally arrives, it doesn’t match expectations then all that effort has been for nothing. It’s worse in fact because you’ll need to undo what’s been done, find another supplier and go through the whole process again. How do you avoid this?
Look for quality assurance. How does your potential supplier prevent mistakes and avoid problems? Are they certified to ISO9001: 2008, the international standard for a quality management system (QMS) which means they are focussed on:
- consistent results
- continuous improvements
- customer satisfaction
6.5 Are they humans?
A strange question, but fair. when you buy heat shrink tubing, and you are digging around a website, can you see anything about the team that you’ll be working with? Some organisations rather worryingly portray themselves as a faceless business with minimal contact information – just anonymous robots to process your order. Look for staff photos, bios, multiple ways to get in touch and a knowledgebase of useful information.
So that’s it. Six (and a half) questions to ponder while you are thinking of where to buy your heat shrink.
Of course, (as you’d expect) we do meet all the points in this list and we’d love for you to come to us for your sleeving and tubing needs.
Wishing you the best of success for your project.
For experienced advice and a knowledgeable team …