What is expandable braided sleeving?
Expandable braided sleeving is used for cable management solutions like protecting and bundling cables. It is easy to set up, cost-effective, fits firmly around the cable bundles, and can do its job without significantly changing the wire bundle's weight or diameter.
Why is expandable braided sleeving so effective?
The expandable braided cable sleeves are made of an open-weave design. Since they are not solid but open-weave, the wires underneath the expandable braided sleeves can be easily examined or can be even removed individually. They are also highly flexible as per the needs, conforming to the needed shape, thus allowing the encased wire to mould conveniently.
Expandable braided sleeves come in many different materials such as Nylon, Polyphenylene Sulfide Monofilament (PPS), Polyester, and Nomex®. All of these materials are abrasion-resistant and lightweight. However, polyester is the most commonly used expandable braided sleeve which is also highly flexible, corrosion-resistant with high-temperature stability and a high expansion ratio.
Cutting expandable braided sleeving without fraying.
The easiest and most effective tool to cut polyester expandable braided sleeving is using a hot knife. Before getting to the guide on cutting the expandable braided sleeving, let us get to know a few basics about a hot knife.
What is a hot knife?
A hot knife is often seen together with the expandable braided sleeving. It is a tool consisting of a narrow metal strip that is heated to the extent that its temperature is enough to melt the polymer filaments of the commonly available expandable braided sleeving. This melting process not only cuts the sleeving to the required length or size but also prevents fraying of the cut end by simply fusing the loose ends together during installation and use.
Using a hot knife, you can speed up your production by cutting all the expandable braided sleeving in advance and then installing the pre-cut lengths whenever required without any worries about the product fraying or unravelling.
How does a hot knife work?
In general, hot knives have a blade that connects to the two poles of a covered transformer. When the blade is connected to power, the resistance causes it to heat up until the pre-set temperature is reached.
Steps on cutting the expandable braided sleeving with a hot knife.
Following are the steps to cut expandable braided sleeving without causing it to fray:
Measure the sleeving's length without pulling it too tightly and keeping it as relaxed as possible. The most accurate method to measure the expandable braided sleeving is to actually put it on its application area and measure it accordingly. You might notice some shortening of the sleeves as they expand over bigger connectors or bundles. Mark the cut line with a marker.
While the knife is heated, bring the sleeving over the cutting edge. First, practising cutting on a piece of scrap is recommended to get familiar with the cutting feel. It is also essential to continue the process in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes. Both the cut ends and the knife will be hot, so be careful.
While the sleeving ends are still hot, you can use an inverted funnel - scissors or needle-nose pliers would also work well in this case, transforming the end into a soft flare. By doing this, your expandable braided sleeving will slide conveniently over your application while accommodating connectors or plugs without binding.
For the installation of the sleeving over the application, you need to push the flared end over the wire ends and walk the expandable braided sleeve from behind down to the length of the bundle. Once your sleeving is in place, smooth it out by simply running your hand over it.
Alternative ways to terminate expandable braided sleeving without fraying.
Instead of using a hot knife, there are other ways to cut your expandable braided sleeving while preventing it from fraying. Read below for supplies and details needed to terminate the fraying ends of an expandable braided sleeving.
Termination with tape
Using tape is the least time-consuming and the most economical method for terminating expandable braided sleeving. To do this, only two supplies are needed: a matching colour tape and a pair of scissors.
After the wires or cables are run through the expandable braided sleeving, all that needs to be done is to wrap the ends with the tape tightly to prevent fraying.
Using cable ties
Cable ties offer a simple method for stopping expandable braided sleeving from fraying. Additionally, cable ties are also cost-effective and are available in matching colours to the sleeving. If no or less reworking is required on the expandable braided sleeving, cable ties are the most convenient option for termination.
Heat shrink tubing method
Another neat way of terminating expandable braided sleeving without fraying is by using the heat shrink tubing method. However, heat shrink tubing requires a heat gun to install, making this method time-consuming. Still, this method is one of the most effective ways to prevent fraying in expandable braided sleeves, especially in automotive and aviation industry applications, requiring waterproofing and heat protection.