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How do magnets work?

How do magnets work?

Electrically charged particles can be found in all matter. These can generate electric currents that create magnetic fields. These magnetic fields have a north and a south pole, which repel or attract each other. This powerful natural force is called magnetism.

Where did magnets come from?

Magnetic rock was first observed in ancient times and later became known as Lodestone. The naturally occurring rock with high iron content produced a magnetic field. The field-aligned with the earth's Geomagnetic pole and almost invariably and most consistently indicated the earth's North pole region. Eventually, these rocks were suspended from a string and became the crucial compass tool that enabled early civilisations to explore the world by sea or land and find their way home again. Today, magnets are produced in moulds by factories and contain alloys of magnetic minerals. 

Why are magnets magnetic?

Most materials are made from millions of tiny atoms. In most materials, the atoms contain electrons that spin around the nucleus of the atom in a random but equalised manner. As with other electric currents, each electron has the potential to generate a magnetic field. In the case of Permanent Magnets and the materials they are derived from, these electrons already have a degree of natural alignment and are easier to manipulate with an electric charge that further aligns the electrons into a North and South configuration. In this aligned state, a magnetic field starts to flow between the poles.

Are the magnetic fields permanent?

Factories that produce magnetic products apply the magnetic field to the magnets in varying degrees by introducing an electric current to each magnet after the production process. Rare Earth magnets, Alnico Magnets, Samarium Magnets and Ferrite Magnets are produced in this way and are also known as Permanent magnets because the magnetic field remains with the magnet permanently under normal conditions. Heat, breakage, collision damage and other strong magnetic fields can cancel, weaken or disrupt the magnet field. This damage can also be permanent but in some cases, the magnetic field can be recovered.

What are Electromagnets?

Electromagnets do not contain mineral-based magnetic material but instead use AC or DC electric currents and copper coils to create a magnetic field. The field stops when the power supply switch is turned off. This on-or-off level of control over electromagnets can be extremely useful in many industrial situations but for this reason, they are not regarded as Permanent Magnets.

Are some magnets stronger than others?

Yes. Magnets vary in strength and pull force depending on their size, type of magnetic material, and magnetic grade. Generally speaking, larger magnets made from the same material have more pull force. Applying a stronger electric charge to the magnets during their production results in a more intense magnetic field. This manufacturing procedure gives the magnet more “strength” or holding power which in the case of Neodymium magnets is represented by the N Grade. This grade can vary between N35 and N52  with the larger number indicating a higher magnetic strength.