Magnets are like people. Some don’t like the heat, some don’t like the cold. Some are strong and some damage easily. And some are more dangerous than others.
It may seem like a lot to keep in mind, but handling and storing magnets properly is the best way to assure optimal and long-lasting magnetization. Here are some best practices to help you maximize your magnet performance.
Always consider safety first when handling permanent magnets. That means the use of gloves and safety glasses, and being careful to avoid the pinching of hands and skin, which can happen without proper care. Don’t put them in your pockets.
Careful handling is necessary to prevent chips and cracks, and that starts when you remove them from the box. For this reason, it’s best to leave installation and disassembly of any magnetized assemblies to trained personnel.
For storage, the original packaging should be your first option. Try not to store them loosely, or mix different magnet types. If you are storing different magnets, keep them at a safe distance (so opposite poles won’t be attracted), and outside their magnetic field range.
In addition, it’s recommended that you keep permanent magnets away from:
- Explosive gas
- High temperatures
- Hydrogen or saltwater environments
- Loose ferrous materials
- Magnetically stored data
These tips apply to all permanent magnets, but different types of permanent and non-permanent magnets also have different needs.
Temperature is not a concern with Alnico magnets, though storage in a low humidity environment is recommended. Arrange smaller magnets in attracting rows wrapped in foam or cardboard, and package larger magnets individually. Magnets stored on metal shelving can move or jump as they are accessed, especially if there is inadequate clearance between shelves.
The biggest concern with Alnico magnets is their susceptibility to demagnetization. Use keepers to prevent this, and keep them away from magnetically sensitive equipment or magnets made from a different alloy.
The Alnico magnet storage guidelines will work for ceramic magnets as well – just keep them away from extreme cold temperatures.
Start with a clean, dry and mild temperature environment for storage and use. Stack flexible magnets flat to avoid curling, and make sure their magnetic sides are not facing each other. If you prefer to store them rolled, keep the roll on its end with the non-magnetic side facing out. And always keep them off the floor, where they could attract fine iron particles, as that will impact performance.
Rare Earth: Corrosion and flux leakage are higher concerns with rare earth magnets. Keep them in low humidity and away from extreme high temperatures, and store smaller magnets wrapped in corrosion inhibiting paper (VCI). Place them away from magnetically sensitive equipment or magnets made from a different alloy and, as with Alnico and Ceramic magnets, if you use metal shelving for storage be sure the shelves are far enough apart, to prevent the magnets from moving or jumping.
These are fairly brittle magnets. They’ll usually be fine if you drop them on the floor – just don’t drop them off a roof of a ten-story building. Try to keep them away from salt water and acids. Other than that, store them responsibly and Samarium Cobalt magnets should last decades.
Like Samarium Cobalt magnets, Neodymium is another type of permanent magnet that is fairly brittle. They are a little more susceptible to extreme temperatures, and will lose all magnetism above 320° C or or below -196° C (77 Kelvin). Keep them away from extreme heat, salt water and acids as well, and try to avoid even fresh water submersion.
If you have any additional questions about any of these magnets, contact one of the experts at Adams.