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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Shelf Life of Raychem (or Covalence) Heat Shrink Sleeves?

Question:  What is the shelf life of Raychem / Tyco Electronics / TE heat shrink sleeves / Covalence Seal for Life shrink sleeves?

Answer:  Let's take a long look at it first.  These are products that are designed to be installed and then offer corrosion protection or sealing for the life of the electrical system or pipeline.  So, these are manufactured as stable products that will require no updating for the systems' life. 

     The only stipulation is that these products must be stored properly prior to use.  Let's look at a worst case scenario.  Pretend you remove all sleeves and components from their packaging and lay them in your back yard for a year or two.  Over the course of those two years; you're likely to see the adhesives compromised as they become caked with dirt/mud/bugs/etc.  As a result - though the shrink sleeve will still shrink; the adhesive is going to be too filthy to bond to anything.  If a sealant doesn't bond properly - a seal will not properly form and as a result; the product will not work as intended.

     I'm in a unique position.  Our warehouse has been used to stock Raychem (and Covalence) heat shrink materials since 1989.  Over that time; we've seen products come and go; we've seen products changed and we've seen a few products become obsolete.  As a result; I've gotten the chance to install products (in demonstrations or for training) that have been sitting on a box; on our shelf; in an warehouse that is not temperature controlled (we are in Houston, Texas).  I've installed products that have been sitting for 25 years (stored "properly").  I've then had the chance to examine and evaluate those products.  They've performed just as well as if they were manufactured in the previous week. 

     So to sum up:  If you've properly stored the product and components - the shelf life is essentially indefinite.

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