Industrial magnets are incredibly powerful and possess characteristics that make them the magnet of choice for certain industrial applications. Industrial magnets are highly versatile and are known for assisting in tasks such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), motor activation, and lifting and separating metal. These tasks can span a multitude of industries.
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Applications of Industrial Magnets
Different types of industrial magnets are used for different applications. Electromagnets can be used in induction heating, due to their ability to convert electrical current into heat. They are also used in a variety of other applications, such as medical treatment, cooking, and magnetic filters, the latter of which uses magnetic attraction to lift heavy objects or sort or separate scrap metal from ferromagnetic materials. Arc-shaped magnets are a popular choice of magnet for motors, and ceramic magnet discs are commonly used in stereo speakers. Magnet assemblies and rare earth magnets outperform alnico or ceramic magnets in terms of power and are therefore a recommended magnet for sensitive devices, such as medical equipment, sensors, TV monitors, computer hard drives, and electric motors. Magnetic assemblies are generally used for holding and lifting purposes within industries such as agricultural, water treatment, electronic, automotive, engineering, construction, and metal fabricating. More specifically, magnetic assemblies are used for devices such as emergency light bases, stereo cabinets, door latches, money clips, channel letter guides, sign and banner holders, and antenna mounts.
Characteristics of Industrial Magnets
Industrial magnets can be made from different kinds of magnetic materials. Manufacturers fabricate magnets with several properties in mind. These properties include cost, magnetic strength, magnetic retention, or permanence against factors such as corrosion, vibration, or heat, ease of fabrication, and porosity. Different composites are used to make permanent magnets, leading the final product to have a wide range of properties that are appropriate for a variety of applications. For example, physical lifting and separating applications use either alnico or ceramic magnets.
Notable Types of Industrial Magnets
Industrial magnets can be categorized in two ways. The first is non-permanent or temporary. These types of magnets can only retain a magnetic field by way of an external electric current. Otherwise, they only stay magnetized for a short period of time. Electromagnets are examples of temporary magnets. These types of magnets can be made in a wide range of strengths and sizes, include an electric chime doorbell. It only becomes magnetized when the button is pressed and the bar strikes the chime. Other examples of electromagnets include magnetic recording, electric bells, earphones, loudspeakers, and data storage equipment, such as tape recorders.
The second category is permanent. Unlike their non-permanent counterparts, an electric current is not necessary for these magnets to retain a magnetic field. Permanent magnets can be made from a variety of different materials, such as ceramic, alnico, and rare earth. Ceramic magnets are highly cost-effective and are able to retain a magnetic field against external factors, such as vibration and corrosion. However, they have a lesser amount of magnetic power, are brittle, and can break more easily than other magnets. Alnico is an alloy consisting of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt. These magnets are made by way of sintering, or more commonly, casting. Alnico magnets are exceptionally resistant to corrosion and do not require further surface finishing. However, alnico is hard and brittle, as well as prone to cracking and chipping. The name “alnico” is a portmanteau of the types of metals of which it is made. Rare earth magnets are more costly to manufacture, but they are much stronger, and can retain a magnetic field more efficiently than ferrite magnets. The most powerful and the most widely used of the rare earth varieties is the neodymium magnet. Sheet magnets are magnets fabricated from a malleable plastic-ferrite composite extruded into a sheet. These magnets are commonly used in the consumer and automotive industries.
Multiple magnets can be used in the tools that perform these functions. These tools are commonly known as magnetic assemblies. Magnetic assemblies can be up to 32 times stronger than a single ceramic magnet, and neodymium assemblies are capable of holding up to 300 points each.
Magnetic assemblies can come in a variety of configurations:
- Pocket Magnets
- Used to identify valuable ferrous materials, such as steel or iron.
- Latch Assemblies
- Can be used in the place of standard latch hardware.
- Sandwich Magnets
- A magnet that is positioned between two pole pieces.
- Channel Magnets
- Rectangular shaped magnets that focus their strength on one particular surface.
- Round Base Magnets
- Combined with steel cups and can be made from either neodymium or ceramic.