The Chemistry of Collaboration

How a Cold Call Turned Cryogenic

Henkel is the world leader in adhesives, sealants, and functional coatings for consumers, craftsmen, and industrial applications. When CleanMark first approached this company with a cold call, Henkel eventually described one very specific problem they were having with labels used in cryogenics that CleanMark might be able to help them with.

A Not-So-Sticky Situation

Henkel was making a specialty adhesive in the U.S. for bonding semiconductors. The adhesive was temperature-sensitive; it required refrigerated storage and, when shipped, needed to be packed in dry ice. Due to the low temperatures, the labels that were affixed to the adhesive’s syringe-like applicators were falling off in transit. Not being marked properly upon delivery was causing a major problem. Henkel needed a label they could count on to survive the intense temperatures.

The Cold, Hard Facts About Adhesives

Our first attempt was to use existing freezer labels, but testing proved that they would not perform well considering the time and distance requirements of Henkel’s global shipping. CleanMark COO Lane Kagey contacted a chemist he knew and inquired about developing an adhesive to stand up to the low temperatures.

The chemist explained that when adhesives get really cold, they get brittle. An adhesive could be produced to withstand the cold, but when re-exposed to room temperature it would become very fluid. CleanMark’s challenge was to develop an adhesive that could perform at dry ice temperatures, while also maintaining its integrity at room temperature.

A few different chemistry solutions were developed and tested, and finally CleanMark chose one that met the stringent requirements. The proposal for the new product went to Henkel. They tested it, used it for shipping their adhesives overseas, and the performance of the labels proved exceptional.

Additionally, CleanMark’s facility in China was very close to one of Henkel’s facilities, enabling us to work together to implement the new adhesive and labeling process across Henkel’s entire logistics chain.

Better Labels, Better Technology

The process not only solidified a technique for producing high-performance cold storage labels, but also a mutually beneficial relationship with a world leader in adhesive technologies; a solid partnership that remains vibrant today. Based on the trust that came out of the problem-solving dynamic, Henkel continues to buy products from CleanMark Labels. The process also gave Henkel the confidence to turn to us whenever they set out to explore new technologies.

An Unexpected Byproduct

Another byproduct of the work done for Henkel has been CleanMark’s advancements in label technology used in cryogenics. Investing in testing equipment to work on cold storage labels, we started conducting tests with liquid nitrogen and creating labels and adhesives that hold up to temperatures between -320° F and -346° F. From that testing, CleanMark was able to perfect labels that can be used in a variety of cryogenic applications.