You might not recognize the name Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. It was started by five people in 1902 as a small mining operation in, of course, Minnesota. Their goal was to mine corundum, a mineral used for making sandpaper and grinding wheels.
However, what they found was something called anorthosite, which was considered low-quality. Still, the founders did not give up, and nowadays probably everyone knows their company by its current name: 3M, probably associating it with its office staples, like Scotch Tape and Post-It Notes.
Their trademarked motto is “Science. Applied to Life,” and they presently manufacture and sell over 60,000 products covering everything from consumer goods and electronics to energy and healthcare.
Yes, heat shrink tubing is one of those thousands products, specifically their FP301 line. This is a 2:1 shrink ratio polyolefin tubing that is flame retardant (except in the clear version) and rated for 600 Volt applications. It has an operating range from -67° to 275°F (-55° to 135°C). It also provides protection from moisture.
The major downside? Being a brand name product, it’s more expensive. In addition, while it does come in a number of colors, those other than black or clear have to be ordered in large quantities, which drives that price even higher.
The good news is that Buy Heat Shrink’s line of HS2 polyolefin 2:1 heat shrink tubing is an exact match for the 3M version, and is a lot cheaper. Plus, we do have it available in the full range of colors and you don’t need to order in bulk.
The colors are black, clear, red, white, blue, yellow, brown, gray, orange, green, violet and yellow/green. It also meets the exact same SAE AMS-DTL-23053/5 standards as the 3M product does, with the same range of operating temperatures.
So what’s the difference between the two? Well, there are three: Time, choice, and cost.
There’s a one-week lead time on all orders of 3M FP301, but with Buy Heat Shrink’s HS2, there is no wait time between ordering and shipping.
As for choice, we have all of the available colors of HS2 ready to go and at the same prices as black and clear. To get colors in 3M FP301 requires much larger, more expensive bulk orders. Additionally, you have more size options with HS2: 18 different diameters versus 3M’s 13. Each size of 3M FP301 also only comes in one spool length, whereas each size of HS2 comes in a choice of two-spool lengths, as well as by the foot or pre-cut 4’ lengths, depending on diameter.
Finally, the biggest incentive is price. HS2 is, on average, almost 30% less expensive than 3M FP301, with the discounts ranging from 16% to 41%. For example, a 200 foot reel of 3M FP301 is $97.00, while the same thing in HS2 is only $66.13, a savings of 32%.
What’s not to appreciate about faster delivery, more options, and much lower prices — especially when both products have the same specs and do the same job?
It’s like the differences between brand name and store brand products in supermarkets: The big secret is that there are none, because the store brands are produced by those big brand companies, just in different packaging. All that changes is the price, because what they’re charging a premium for is the name brand.
Probably everyone knows the concept of generic versus brand name prescription drugs, and it’s the same story there. Once the brand name’s patent expires, other companies are free to package the drug itself under the same generic name. The only difference is the formulation of the delivery system it comes in — pill, tablet, capsule, liquid, etc.
Otherwise, it’s the same drug and reacts exactly the same way in the body. Besides that, the amount of drug compared to the amount of inert material is miniscule, so most of what you’re paying for anyway isn’t the drug.
Again, it’s all about the name. It’s just that with prescription drugs, the difference can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. So it’s not as extreme in the case of heat shrink tubing. On the other hand, wouldn’t you prefer paying an average of 30% less on your next heat shrink project that needs this kind of tubing, as well has have more options in size and color?
You can do that without sacrificing any of the quality, features, or performance. All you have to do is let go of the name.