Technical and applications support from Henkel has helped Bailey of Sheffield, a rapidly growing British manufacturer of unique stainless steel jewellery, to overcome a number of bonding challenges in the manufacture of its stunning products.
The company says that the practical support offered by Henkel was key in identifying the optimal adhesives and methodologies necessary to deliver 100% success rates. “From the moment I contacted Henkel head office, it clearly didn’t matter that we were a relatively small company and that our products would only require a tiny amount of Loctite,” says company founder Scott Bailey.
“I cannot speak highly enough of Henkel’s approach to working with a young but ambitious business like ours. Henkel immediately wanted to understand our processes and challenges. There was 100% commitment to solving the issues.”
The core product at Bailey of Sheffield is its bracelet, manufactured from locally supplied, high- quality, marine-grade 316L stainless steel. The bracelets come in a range of PVD colours and finishes, and can be fully personalised.
As with any engineered product, there are challenges to overcome. For Bailey of Sheffield, one of these involved the bonding of precision-machined stainless steel clasp components to both ends of the bracelet cable. “Within our workshop we were seeing a tiny number of bracelets failing our 44-point quality control procedure regarding the bonding of clasps to cable ends using an adhesive manufactured by a Henkel competitor,” explains Bailey.
Dissatisfied with the incumbent supplier’s response to solve the issue, the company turned to Henkel. “We only want to use products that offer a 100% success rate, thus delivering stainless steel jewellery that is engineered to last more than a lifetime,” states Bailey. “That was the challenge I set Henkel in 2020, at which point we began our journey together in terms of identifying the right epoxy adhesive for bonding the parts.”
Henkel recommended Loctite 9466 toughened epoxy adhesive to provide a high-strength, durable bond. This neutral-coloured product would also offer good resistance to soaps and shampoos, and facilitate easy application and room temperature curing.
“I tested some of the bonded parts at The University of Sheffield, realising immediately that it was the right product,” states Bailey. “We went live with Loctite 9466 within just a few months of my first phone call. Thousands of bracelets have since been assembled using this product.”
In actual fact, the company was already a Loctite user; it manufactures precision-machined stoppers that secure beads in position on its bracelets if that is the customer preference (some like bracelets with free-running beads). Two M2 grub screw (3mm long) hold the stoppers on the bracelet.
“Despite machining tolerances of one-fifth of a human hair, we found that it was possible for a small number of grub screws to work loose over an extended period of time,” explains Bailey. “Again, dissatisfied with anything less than a 100% success rate, we tried adjusting the machined thread on our stopper, as well as different grub screws. However, it was my retired father, an engineer by trade, who suggested that I should be using a threadlocker. I watched a YouTube video on Loctite 243 and haven’t looked back since.
“We also recommend the same threadlocker for our single and double Capsule beads allowing our customers to keep their lost loved ones' ashes safe and close to them with the peace of mind and confidence in Bailey precision machining and Loctite 243 formula.
Following its success with the bracelet clasps, the next challenge involved the bonding of tiny custom magnets (1mm diameter by 1mm long) into 48 holes on four spools that form part of the company’s Word Play bead. This playful kinetic concept allows customers to index discs and create multiple four-letter words; ‘nice’ and ‘naughty’ versions of the Word Play bead are available to suit customer preference. The magnets ensure the alignment of each letter as it indexes.
“There was a brand new type of magnet available that we wanted to start using but it was proving problematic for our existing adhesive,” says Bailey. “I called Henkel into action, who duly proposed Loctite 290 penetrating adhesive and a suitable activator. We now have a belt and braces methodology from Henkel on how to achieve 100% activation. Another problem solved.”
Bailey of Sheffield also involved Henkel in the development of a new product. The company’s glow beads (for use with its bracelets) contain a fluorescent glow stick (tritium isotope lamp) that requires putting and sealing within its housing.
“Silicone is the traditional method deployed by leading watch manufacturers who use tritium, but I wanted to explore using an epoxy resin,” explains Bailey. “I’d already done some tests with silicone and could tell it was never going to last as long as the lamp, thus presenting a mismatch in quality. We needed another solution, so I returned to Henkel.”
Henkel recommended Loctite 9483 epoxy potting adhesive, which would meet all of the company’s requirements. The product is optically clear and flows readily to allow easy application with no bubbles. Additionally, the hard-setting Loctite 9483 has a smooth glass finish that is scratch-resistant and provides good resistance to bathroom products.
Bailey comments: “I’ve always had a romantic attachment to Loctite because my father was an engineer and I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a workshop. It had a shelf full of Loctite products. Today, I’m very grateful for the help and assistance provided by Henkel in all of our applications. We needed their help during a particularly challenging period involving national lockdowns, but they were fantastic. Online meetings ensured we could continue our projects, with Henkel even making videos showing us how to apply the products.”