About Varflex

Varflex Corporation

Varflex Corporation has been manufacturing electrical insulating sleeving exclusively since its founding and incorporation on May 24, 1924. Our manufacturing facility in Rome, New York employs approximately 150 people and after its most recent expansion in 2013, occupies over 200,000 feet.

    Through the years, Varflex has pioneered a number of major developments in sleeving design and production. Not only was Varflex the first to braid fiberglass sleeving and use silicone varnishes to coat them, Varflex has continued to develop new kinds of sleeving that play vital roles in many types of electrical equipment and aircraft in both the commercial and military markets.

    Sleeving is an essential component of any electrical machine, motor or appliance and, in response to customer demand within these vast market areas, Varflex has developed an array of insulating sleevings that are available in a variety of sizes and colors, in coils, cut lengths or on spools. Varflex manufactures electrical insulating sleevings that are suitable for high and low temperatures, high and low voltages, as well as for abrasive and other physically demanding applications and hostile environments.

    The voltage and temperature ratings of Varflex sleevings are recognized by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), certified by CSA (CSA International) and meet the requirements of, and are on the QPLs (Qualified Products Lists) for, applicable military specifications. For those applications not satisfied through the use of its standard products, Varflex stands ready to supply special coatings and treatments, extra heavy, double- or triple-wall constructions, as well as special braiding and overbraiding, all of which are done in-house.

    Although electrical applications are most common, Varflex braided sleevings can also be used to jacket wire, or other small devices, from intense heat, radiative environments, ultraviolet light, abrasion and intermittent exposure to chemicals. More recently, Varflex sleevings are being utilized in many “nontraditional” applications as well.

    In addition to generating and pursuing new business opportunities, Varflex maintains long-term relationships with many of its customers by continuing to supply them with the highest-quality electrical insulating sleeving and exceptional service. And, to meet the demand for its products from the electrical industry around the world, Varflex works through a network of representatives and distributors located across the country and on six continents.


Sleeving is an essential component of any electrical machine, motor or appliance and, in response to customer demand within these vast market areas, Varflex has developed an array of insulating sleevings that are available in a variety of sizes and colors, in coils, cut lengths or on spools.

    Varflex manufactures electrical insulating sleevings that are suitable for high and low temperatures, high and low voltages, as well as for abrasive and other physically demanding applications and hostile environments.

    The voltage and temperature ratings of Varflex sleevings are recognized by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), certified by CSA (CSA International) and meet the requirements of, and are on the QPLs (Qualified Products Lists) for, applicable military specifications. For those applications not satisfied through the use of its standard products, Varflex stands ready to supply special coatings and treatments, extra heavy, double- or triple-wall constructions, as well as special braiding and overbraiding, all of which are done in-house.

    Although electrical applications are most common, Varflex braided sleevings can also be used to jacket wire, or other small devices, from intense heat, radiative environments, ultraviolet light, abrasion and intermittent exposure to chemicals. More recently, Varflex sleevings are being utilized in many “nontraditional” applications as well.

The standards and practices of our industry, and meets the requirements and solves the problems of a multitude of design criteria and application demands including the following:

  • UL Recognition/CSA Certification
  • Conformance to Military Specifications
  • Flame resistance
  • Flexibility
  • Weight reduction
  • Superior dielectric protection
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Wide operating temperature ranges
  • Heat endurance
  • High tensile strength
  • Radiation resistance
  • Fluid resistance
  • Oil & solvent resistance
  • Chemical resistance
  • Moisture resistance
  • Fungus resistance

Varflex sleeving is available in a wide range of standard lengths, diameters and coatings. As we ply our own fibers and do all our own braiding, we do not depend on other companies production schedules to deliver raw sleeving, keeping lead times as short as possible.

We "pre-braid" varying amounts of the more popular sizes leaving just the final finishing treatment to fill orders. We even attempt to warehouse "small" amounts of finished products intended to "hold our customers over" till we can fill the balance of larger orders. There is no guarantee that we will have on hand immediately what you need, but we will make every attempt to help our customers keep their production schedules intact. If you have a special need or emergency, please advise usand we will see what we can do to help.

 

Varflex sleevings are available…
  • On spools as well as in coils, standard 36” lengths and custom cut lengths
  • In a wide range of sizes from 0.012” (#30 AWG) to 6” ID
  • In a wide range of colors
  • With special coatings and treatments
  • In standard, heavy, double & triple wall constructions.
  • With custom materials

 

Varlfex sleeving can also be overbraided onto a variety of customer-supplied materials.

Varflex manufactures electrical insulating sleevings that are suitable for a variety of high and low temperature and voltage applications. They are also used in various abrasive and other physically demanding industrial applications and environments.

    The voltage and temperature ratings of Varflex sleevings are recognized by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), certified by CSA (CSA International) and meet the requirements of military specifications. Many of them are flame retardant. For applications not satisfied through the use of its standard products, Varflex stands ready to supply special coatings and treatments, extra heavy, double- wall and triple- wall constructions, as well as special braiding and overbraiding.

    Although electrical applications are most common, Varflex braided sleevings can also be used to jacket wire or other small devices from intense heat, radiative environments, ultraviolet light, abrasion, flexing and intermittent exposure to chemicals.

    In most cases, the dielectric strength breakdown voltage (puncture voltage) influences the selection of the braided sleeving used, thereby satisfying critical electrical requirements. Other electrical properties such as radiation resistance, volume resistivity, and corona discharge may also dictate and become guiding factors in the selection process. Some sleevings, on the other hand, are chosen to satisfy thermal and physical requirements only.

    Varflex does all of its own braiding, in house, and the sleevings we produce are braided, primarily, with fiberglass yarns whose properties include high tensile strength, nonflammability, heat resistance and excellent resistance to fungus, moisture and chemicals. Although fiberglass filaments are the most popular, sleevings of nylon, polyester, Nomex®, Dacron®, Kevlar®, polypropylene and other yarns are also available.

    All are available with inside diameters corresponding to AWG (American Wire Gage) and larger fractional sizes, some as large as four, five and six inches. Most sleeving is produced in standard wall thicknesses, but some heavy walls, as well as double and triple wall constructions are available to satisfy specific design requirements while, of course, affording the normally high temperature resistance associated with fiberglass.

    Initially, the proper choice of sleeving can usually be determined by coordinating the end-use characteristics required in a customer’s application with the performance characteristics of the sleeving. This, of course, is achieved through close liaison with the customer with regard to their particular application.

    An untreated braided sleeving is very flexible in all directions because of the construction which permits the individual strands to slide over each other. However, because of the apertures or openings between the plied (twisted) filaments in the braid, there are some types of protection, especially high-voltage electrical, which the untreated sleeving cannot provide.

    To serve as primary electrical insulation, braided sleeving must be coated with a continuous coating (insulating material) which fills the interstices or apertures between the filament bundles. In addition to improving dielectric strength, coatings, as well as saturations which only partially impregnate the individual bundles with resins, alter other properties of the sleeving, particularly flexibility, and must be considered for each application.

    As soon as the braid is saturated or coated there is inhibition of flexibility due to a “cementing” together of the strands in the braid. Therefore, the flexibility of the product is largely limited by the flexibility of the coating material.

    Braided fiberglass sleeving products manufactured by Varflex, generally, can be divided into two categories, uncoated (untreated or lightly treated) sleevings and coated sleevings.

Uncoated Sleeving

Uncoated (untreated or lightly treated) sleevings are used for secondary insulation, harnessing, physical protection, and serve as good anchors for varnish treatments in electrical units. Because of this, treated sleevings find extensive application with potting plastics where the sleeving acts as a substratum to support potting compounds to enhance the electrical and mechanical properties of a system.

    Sleevings which do not have a continuous coating will provide only space factor (wall thickness) electrical insulation equal to the dielectric strength of an equivalent thickness of air. Consequently, they frequently are used in low-voltage applications where the sleeving will be exposed continuously to operating temperatures exceeding the capability of coated sleevings. The majority of Varflex sleevings are braided from fiberglass yarns made from “E” glass, an electrical grade that maintains its physical properties indefinitely at 250°C (482°F) and can withstand up to 760°C (1400°F) for shorter periods. Specialized applications requiring greater heat resistance for extended periods can utilize Varglas S1600 Sleevings which are produced from special high-temperature S-2 Glass® yarns developed by Owens Corning. S1600 Sleevings can be exposed continually to 500°C (932°F) and intermittently to 950°C (1742°F).

These sleevings can be untreated or be subject to one or both of the following treatments:

Heat Cleaning (Normalizing)

A process used to remove the lubricants and starches introduced during the yarn manufacturing procedure thereby providing better adhesion for some types of insulating compounds. This process is of particular importance because it also represents one of the first in a series of steps taken to insure that the sleeving is produced to the specific size desired.

Resin Treatment

A light saturating process to provide resistance to fraying and abrasion. The resins used can be either natural in color or dyed (if a particular color is desired). Some can, as in the case of Volan,® act as a tie-coat or coupling agent between the fiberglass and thermosetting coatings applied over it.

    In summary, the space factor to resist low puncture voltage, the ability to reinforce through encapsulation (potting), fray resistance (the ability to resist splaying at the ends) and flame resistance are among the important characteristics of uncoated fiberglass sleeving.

Coated Sleeving

Coated sleevings are used to satisfy electrical, as well as, thermal, physical and chemical requirements. Generally, braided electrical insulating sleevings which have been continuously coated are characteristically identified with a temperature classification (thermal level at which sleeving can operate continuously) and a grade (defined through dielectric strength breakdown or puncture voltage).

1) Yarn

The majority of electrical insulating sleeving Varflex produces is braided with fiberglass yarns purchased, exclusively, from Advanced Glassfiber Yarns (formerly known as Owens-Corning). This yarn is purchased in single strands composed of continuous multi-filament fibers. It is received in, what is referred to because of its appearance, a large “milk-bottle” package with 0.7 turns per inch in the Z (reverse) twist direction ready for “uptwisting” on our twist frames.

2) Uptwisting

In this first operation, we “uptwist” or increase the number of twists per inch in the yarn (in the same Z-twist direction) to a pre-established 4.0 turns per inch to achieve a uniform product which will process more smoothly. The material, which is now on a double-flanged plastic bobbin, is now ready for plying on our ply frames.

3) Plying

In this operation, two or more yarns are “plied” by twisting the strands in an opposite S (forward) twist direction into a multiple-end yarn product. The primary reasons for plying are to produce a “balanced” yarn and to increase its diameter and tensile strength. Upon completion of this step, the yarn again is in a “milk-bottle” package and it is now ready for winding.

4) Winding

The next step in yarn processing takes place in our Winding Department where the plied yarns are transferred to “braider packages” suitable for use on the braiding machines. The winding is also used to combine different yarn constructions which give us the ability to braid a variety of sleeving sizes ranging from a #28 - #30 AWG wire size to a 6” I.D.

5) Braiding

Varflex has braiders in a variety of sizes ranging from small 8-carrier units, generally used to braid very fine yarns, to some with as many as 144 carriers used to braid larger-sized sleevings with inside diameters up to 6 inches.

    In the braiding operation, one-half of the carriers (spindles on which the wound “braider packages” are mounted and rotate) travel in a clockwise direction while the other half travel counterclockwise, all following a figure-eight pattern. This interlacing process transforms the wound yarn into a continuous tubular braid or sleeving.

    Although most sleeving is produced in standard wall thicknesses, heavy walls, as well as double- and triple-wall constructions, are available. Varflex can also perform custom overbraiding on customer-supplied wire, cable, hose, and a variety of other items, thereby eliminating a costly step in the customer’s manufacturing processes.

6) Braid Stock

Our Braid Stock Department is where we keep upwards to 10 million feet of untreated braid in 40 standard types and sizes enabling us to process and ship orders more quickly than our competitors. A close examination of some braided material would reveal fine, hair-like projections, or “spikes”, protruding from the braid. These actually are broken filaments of glass which must be removed.

7) Normalizing (Heat Cleaning)

Normalizing is a proprietary heat cleaning process that not only singes the braid to remove the “spikes” we have just mentioned, it also removes a controlled amount of the sizing, or lubricant, introduced during the yarn manufacturing process thereby providing for better adhesion of the subsequent application of various insulating compounds.

8) Coating Tower Rooms)

The tower rooms, which get their name from the tower-like structures which actually are huge vertical ovens, are where the braid receives any one of a variety of treatments or coatings designed to satisfy specific electrical, thermal, chemical and/or physical requirements.

    After the braid is coated, the sleeving is drawn up, in continuous lengths, through the oven where a precisely-controlled temperature cures the coating to a tough, yet flexible, finish. Our large-sized coated sleevings are available in 3 to 6 foot lengths only and are both coated and cured utilizing a batch-type process.

9) Inspection/Packaging

This is the final step in the manufacturing process. Even though various quality checks and tests have taken place at stages prior to this, during this phase, every inch of sleeving we produce is examined for defects and imperfections.

    Here also is where sleeving is packaged, or put up, on spools, in coils or 36” lengths in accordance with customer specifications. Should a customer have a requirement for short pieces cut to a particular length, these too can be supplied to very close cutting tolerances.

    Once the sleeving has been inspected and put up, it is appropriately marked, packed and shipped to its destination ready to become an essential component in any of a vast array of demanding applications and end-use markets.

Varflex manufactures electrical insulating sleevings that are suitable for high and low temperatures, high and low voltages, as well as for abrasive and other physically demanding applications and hostile environments.

We also produce sleevings that are braided using mylar and other colored and even metalic fibers & wire that are used purely as a decorative element. However, as our customers are not required to inform us of exactly how or what they use our products for, we have no way of knowing all the different ultimate applications of our sleeving, nor are you limited in any way in what you may find a use for our products.

Typical Applications for Varflex Electrical Insulating Sleeving include:
  • Electrical Machinery & Equipment
  • Power & Voltage Regulating Transformers (Dry & Oil-Filled)
  • Industrial Instrumentation (Measurement, Analysis & Control)
  • Equipment & Relay Leads in Fractional & Integral Horsepower Motors & Generators
  • Electromechanical Relays
  • Sealed Compressors for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Units
  • Wire Harnesses
  • Armature Coils
  • Automotive Regulators, Starters, Alternators
  • Surgical, Medical & Optical Equipment
  • Atomic Energy Applications including Nuclear Motors
  • Aerospace, Aircraft, Marine & Other Transportation Equipment
  • Home Appliances
  • Heating Cables
  • Crossovers
  • Lighting Fixtures (incl. Transformers & Ballasts)
  • Switchgear & Breaker Panels
  • Welding Equipment & Other Commercial Apparatus

For those applications not satisfied through the use of its standard products, Varfiex stands ready to supply special coatings and treatments as well as special braiding and overbraiding using custom materials. Don’t forget...wlth our knowledge, experience, dedication and enthusiasm, we will help you find a solution.