Magnets are useful and fun, affixing grocery lists and kid artwork to refrigerators the world over. Brian Conti was tired of the work-issue magnets he was using to hang items from his office white board. They were boring in appearance and weak in magnetic strength. So he fired up his CAD software and designed, then built, some improved magnets that were so popular with his co-workers that they suspiciously began to disappear. Thus, Strong Like Bull Magnets were born, and after a successful Kickstarter campaign, an updated version of them are now available to order on an ongoing basis. Let’s check ‘em out!
Although the first time I can recall hearing the expression “strong like bull” was by Ben Stiller’s character in the film Something About Mary, I understand that its actual origin is disputed. That aside, Brian wanted his magnet to be strong, thus the catchy name. When I first heard it, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to know more about them!
Brian first commercially introduced Strong Like Bull Magnets via a crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign in January 2013. I had actually been in contact with Brian from having been a backer on his first successful Kickstarter campaign, the Spoke Mechanical Pencil. When I found out about the Strong Like Bull campaign, I liked the look and idea of the stronger-than-heck magnets and became a backer on it as well, and I was very happy to see it successfully fund, raising an impressive $57,507 in comparison to its modest $7500 goal. Following the success of the campaign, Brian launched stronglikebullmagnets.com to provide a way for customers to order the mega-magnets after the completion of the campaign.
Although as mentioned above I was a backer on the Kickstarter campaign, Brian was kind enough to send me not only the actual Strong Like Bull Magnets that corresponded to my pledge reward level, but also some additional items to try out. As seen in the image above, included in the package were eight Strong Like Bull Magnets, two wall mounting kits, three Strong Like Bull vinyl decals, two Strong Like Bull notepads and a Spoke Mechanical Pencils decal.
The Strong Like Bull Magnets (which I shall henceforth abbreviate as “SLB Magnets” for purposes of brevity), arrived attached to each other with a layer of foam in between to protect them. This was my first encounter with just how strong these magnets are – I actually had some difficulty pulling them apart from each other! My first thought was that these little dudes are indeed deceptively strong for their size.
- Diameter = 0.855 inch / 21.7 mm
- Height = 0.550 inch / 14 mm
- Magnet Grade = N52 neodymium iron born disc rare earth magnet
- Location of Origin = All components designed and/or manufactured in USA except the actual magnets themselves which are made in China; Assembly of overall product in USA
Materials & Construction
I’ve borrowed the image above from the SLB Magnets Kickstarter campaign site because it best illustrates the construction of the magnets. Starting at the far left of the diagram, these guys are built around an N52 grade Neodymium Iron Boron disc magnet, one of the strongest types of magnets available. Next is “an engineered steel ‘cup’ which acts to direct the magnetic flux in a way which further increases the magnetic pull strength. The cup also ‘shields’ the magnetic force of all of the surfaces except the mounting surface, making them much safer to handle than an unshielded magnet.” This is important because these magnets are literally strong enough that, if placed in too close proximity, could potentially interfere with implantable pacemakers, defibrillators, or other medical devices – something to keep in mind if you or someone close to you has such a medical device. The magnet/cup assembly then threads into a CNC machined aluminum exterior housing which is anodized to improve durability and to provide fun color options. Finally, a rubber O-ring is placed in a machined groove to help with gripping the exterior of the magnet – which is needed, believe me!
Brian provided a set of SLB Magnets in all of the original Kickstarter campaign colors plus a few new colors that he had been working with. Starting from the upper left in the image above, this included Lime Green (called Kickstarter green for the campaign), Black, Orange (a new prototype color not offered in the original Kickstarter campaign), Aluminum (raw finish, no anodizing), Blue #1 (Dark Royal), Red, original Gunmetal Grey, and Silver (clear anodized). All are in satin anodized finish unless otherwise noted.
Some of the underside labels were not quite centered, but my understanding is that these decals sometime slide off-center when two of the magnets are placed on a surface in close proximity to each other, such as when they are assembled to the strip of foam for shipping. More on this below.
Above is a closeup that illustrates the rubber O-ring and grooves which aid in gripping the SLB Magnets. Neodymium magnets are so strong that these features are needed to remove the magnets from a metallic surface on which they have been placed.
How Strong Are They?
According to the info on the Kickstarter campaign site, the SLB Magnets have a “rated contact pull strength of over 25 lbs.” Honestly, that’s overkill. That’s bordering on insane. And I think it’s awesome. I didn’t have a legitimate way to test this scientifically, but I did do the Farmer Jones Test illustrated above. (FYI: A “Farmer Jones Test” is a quick-and-dirty little evaluation that gives at least a baseline of confidence that something performs the way it is intended.) The pipe wrench I have suspended from the Green colored SLB Magnet in the photo above weighs about 5 lbs, and the SLB Magnet held it firmly. Awesome.
I performed another Farmer Jones Test by using the Silver colored SLB Magnet shown above to hang a full-sized tablet from the front of my fridge. (And yes, those are indeed some of my StickyGram Instagram Photo Magnets flanking the tablet – good eye.)
The SLB Magnet held the tablet to my fridge without effort. I think I may have heard it snicker at me. It wasn’t even a full tablet, but I’m pretty sure it could have suspended a full, thicker tablet of many more sheets easily.
Wall Mounting Kit
Along with the SLB Magnets themselves, Brian included two wall mounting kits. These have an interesting purpose. If you want to be able to use an SLB Magnet on a non-metallic surface, in particularly drywall, this little kit can be used as an adapter. Brian developed this kit so that his daughter could hang a calendar from her wall. It consists of a special steel countersunk washer, a large drywall anchor, a screw and a decal similar to those on the bottom of the magnets.
The drywall anchor is placed into a wall in the location where the SLB Magnet is to be used. The screw is then placed through the inner diameter of the washer and threaded into the drywall anchor. The decal is then placed over the washer to help protect the bottom of the SLB Magnet. Once the adapter kit has been installed, it allows the SLB Magnet to be attached to and removed from the metallic steel washer just like any other metallic surface. Now that I’ve explained all that, you may not want to get too excited about this mounting kit; although these were offered as part of the Kickstarter campaign to backers who pledged for six or more magnets, it doesn’t appear that they are available for sale at the stronglikebullmagnets.com Shop page. Perhaps Brian will offer them for sale if there is sufficient interest – you could always contact him and ask him!
After the completion of the Kickstarter campaign, Brian added some new colors that are now available through the stronglikebullmagnets site. They include Orange (see images new the top of this review) and as seen in the image above starting in the top left, Fuschia, Pink, Purple, Blue #2 (Medium Turquoise), and an updated, darker Grey, all in satin finish.
The polycarbonate plastic label on the underside of the magnets have also been reduced in diameter and all were well-centered on the magnet, giving it, in my opinion, a more professional, precise look. My understanding is that this change was made because of the previous decals sliding issue as described above. Older style on left, updated style on right. Not much difference from the topside view.
Sneak Preview – Strong Like Bull XL Magnets
In the spirit of Steve Jobs’ “One More Thing…”, here is a bit of sneak preview of the next potential item in the Strong Like Bull family of products. Brian sent me a sample of the Strong Like Bull XL Magnets. As strong as the regular SLB Magnets are, these are like the super duty, Incredible Hulk version. If you need to affix a small child to your fridge for a time-out, these might be your best bet. (NOTE: That was a joke people. Lighten up.) As you can see, same SLB stamped logo on top, but about twice the magnet diameter.
A larger SLB decal has been affixed to the bottom, looking perfectly centered.
Brian has not yet determined if he is ready offer the SLB XL Magnets for sale on stronglikebullmagnets.com, but is considering offering them in a Kickstarter campaign over the next few months. If you’re interested in them, perhaps contact Brian and express your interest – might help encourage him to offer them for sale! :) In any case, keep an eye on the SLB site, Kickstarter, and here at The Gadgeteer for updates on when these monsters might be available.
Strong Like Bull Magnets live up to their name. Period. But they have been very carefully designed to not only be incredibly strong, they also include features that improve the user’s grip, which allows them to be removed with less effort, which makes them easier to use. And even better, they are fun and look cool. In addition, the design provides some concentration of the magnetic flux in the intended direction as well as shielding in areas where the magnet field is not necessarily wanted. The anodized aluminum exterior housing is available in many colors, and the magnets are affordable. The only drawback I can possibly see is the potential for the magnets to interfere with pacemakers or similar medical devices (yeah, they are that strong), but if care is taken, this should not be a problem.