Most thread-locking formulas are methacrylate-based and rely on the electrochemical activity of a metal substrate to cause polymerization of the fluid. Thread-locking fluid is thixotropic, which allows it to flow well over time, yet still resist shocks and vibrations. It can be permanent or removable; in the latter case, it can be removed with heat, for example. Typically, brands are color-coded to indicate strength and whether they can be removed.
Thread-locking fluid was developed by American professor Vernon K. Krieble in 1953. His company, American Sealants, founded the Loctite brand. An early version of the compound was patented in 1960.
Typically, thread-locking fluids are methacrylate-based, and cure anaerobically. Thread-locking fluid is a thixotropic fluid: under shear stress, it exhibits a time-dependent decrease in viscosity. This allows it to flow well over time, yet still resist short-duration shearing, as in vibration or shock.
Thread-locking fluid is typically sold in small containers, in amounts from 5 millilitres (about one teaspoon) to 250 millilitres (8.5 US fl oz). Threadlocker is also sold in sticks and in tape form, similar to Teflon tape.
|Type||Typical color code||Torque to break free (3/8-16 size bolt)||Torque to continue turning||Temperature range|
|Low strength||■ Purple||62 in-lb (7 N⋅m)||27 in-lb (3 N⋅m)||−54 to 149 °C|
|Medium strength||■ Blue||115 in-lb (12 N⋅m)||53 in-lb (6 N⋅m)||−54 to 149 °C|
|Medium strength surface insensitive||■ Blue||180 in-lb (20 N⋅m)||62 in-lb (7 N⋅m)||−54 to 149 °C|
|High strength||■ Red||230 in-lb (25 N⋅m)||225 in-lb (25 N⋅m)||−54 to 149 °C|
|High temperature||■ Red||180 in-lb (20 N⋅m)||270 in-lb (30 N⋅m)||−54 to 232 °C|
|Penetrating||■ Green||90 in-lb (10 N⋅m)||310 in-lb (35 N⋅m)||−54 to 149 °C|
Application and care
Thread-locking fluid may be applied before or after assembly, depending on the type. Threadlockers are available in varieties of "permanent", "removable", and "low-strength" formulas. Many brands color-code the container and the fluid itself to indicate the degree of permanency. The low-strength types prevent loosening under vibration, but may still be readily disassembled. Removeable types resist higher amounts of vibration, but may still be disassembled with hand or power tools. The strongest permanent threadlockers are rated at 3,000 psi (21 MPa) in shear strength. The applied torque required to loosen a permanently threadlocked fastener may exceed the yield strength of the fastener itself, such that attempting disassembly by force may twist off the stem of the fastener. However, high-strength permanent threadlockers become potentially removable by heating the assembly, typically to 230 °C (450 °F).
Working temperatures for threadlocked fasteners are typically limited to 150 °C (300 °F), which is below the softening point of the methacrylate polymer. Above this temperature, the material softens and strength reduces.
Because thread locking adhesives typically rely on the electrochemical activity of a metal substrate to form a bond, surfaces must be clean to develop the full bonding strength. In the case of less electrochemically active metals such as the normally oxided surface of aluminium, an additional step of priming is required for full strength results.
Because electrochemical activity is one of the two triggers that cause polymerization of the threadlocker fluid, care must be taken to avoid contaminating the entire container of threadlocker with threadlocker that has had contact with metal, otherwise the material in the container may polymerize.
- The Loctite Story by Kenneth W. Butterworth. New York: Newcomen Society of the United States, 1988.
- US 3043820, "Anaerobic curing sealant composition having extended shelf stability"
- "Devcon Permatex Product Selector". Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- "Hernon Introduces a New Surface Insensitive Thread Locking Adhesive". ThomasNet Industrial Newsroom. June 26, 2002. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
- "Permatex Medium Strength BLUE Threadlocker Gel Technical Data Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-11-16.
- Allen, Mike (September 2009). "How to Secure Bolts Using Threadlocker: Auto Clinic". Popular Mechanics.
- Current Loctite Threadlockers