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Questions and Answers

Adams Magnetic Products can help to answer many of these commonly asked questions about magnets and magnetism. If you have additional questions, please contact us.

Questions about magnets
[Q] What is a magnet?
[A] At its most basic level, a magnet is an object that is made of materials that create a magnetic field. Magnets have poles, at least one north pole and one south pole.
[Q] What is a magnetic field?
[A] A magnetic field is the region in space where a magnetic force can be detected. The magnetic field strength and direction can be measured in terms of strength and direction.
[Q] What is magnetism?
[A] Magnetism is the force of attraction or repulsion between substances made of certain materials, such as iron, nickel, cobalt, and steel. The force of magnetism, simply put, is due to the motion of electric charges.
[Q] What can magnets do?
[A] Magnets have several useful functions. Based on experience with household magnets, most people know that magnets attract materials, including iron, nickel, cobalt, and steel. Many people also know that magnets attract magnets at opposite poles and repel magnets at like poles. But magnets do much more. 

Magnets effect electrically charged particles and electrical conductors. Magnets have the ability transform electrical energy without losing their own energy. These effects can perform useful functions, for example: 

  • Electrical-to-mechanical effects are key in the function of motors, loudspeakers, and equipment that requires charged particle deflection.
  • Mechanical-to-electrical effects are useful in generators and microphones.
  • Mechanical-to-heat effects facilitate eddy current and hysteresis torque devices.
  • Mechanical-to-mechanical effects attract or repulse objects.
  • Other effects of magnets include magneto-resistance and magnetic resonance.
[Q] What are rare earth magnets?
[A] The term Rare Earth Magnets is used to refer to a group of magnetic materials whose alloys consist of one or more of the Rare Earth elements. These materials are characterized by exceptionally strong magnetic properties.
[Q] What are alnico magnets?
[A] Alnico magnets are aluminum-nickel-cobalt magnets. They are ideal for high-temperature use, At Adams, we stock most types of Alnico materials, and they are commonhttly supplied as long rods or bars. A long magnetic path length to pole surface ratio (usually 4:1 or greater) assists in providing good magnetic performance.
[Q] What are flexible magnets?
[A] Flexible magnets have multi-pole magnetization patterns for maximum holding power. They are easily cut with scissors, knives, or die cut. They are available with adhesive or colored vinyl coating.
[Q] What are ceramic magnets?
[A] Ceramic magnets are made from strontium and iron oxide powders. They are generally harder, more brittle and lighter than metal alloy magnets. Ceramic magnets have a high electrical resistance.
[Q] What are soft ferrite cores?
[A] Soft ferrite is a nonmetallic magnetic material. Soft ferrite cores are used in computers, telecommunication equipment, TVs, and a variety of industrial electronic equipment. Adams is stopped selling Soft Ferrite cores and accessories in 2014. We recommend Elna Magnetics as a source for these products.
[Q] What are magnetic assemblies?
[A] Magnetic assemblies are up to 32 times stronger than regular magnets and are typically made with ceramic magnets. At Adams, we create magnetic assemblies in custom sizes, designs, and coatings.
[Q] What are permanent magnets made of?
[A] Today's permanent magnets are made of alloys. Alloy materials include 
  • Aluminum-Nickel-Cobalt (Alnico)
  • Neodymium-Iron-Boron (Neo magnets or "super magnets", a member of the rare earth category)
  • Samarium-Cobalt (a member of the rare earth category)
  • Strontium-Iron (Ferrite or Ceramic)
[Q] How are magnets made?
[A] Magnets are made using the following manufacturing methods: 
  • Calendering
  • Casting
  • Compression bonding
  • Extruding
  • Injection molding
  • Pressing and sintering
[Q] What are magnetic poles?
[A] All magnets have points, or poles, where their magnetic strength is concentrated. Those points are called poles. We label them north and south because suspended magnets orient along north-south planes. On different magnets, like poles repel each other, opposite poles attract.
[Q] What is the difference between the north and south poles of a magnet?
[A] When suspended or allowed to rotate freely, magnets orient themselves in a north-south direction. The end of a magnet that points to the north is called the north pole. The point that seeks the south is called the south pole.
[Q] Is there a simple way to tell which end of a magnet is the north pole?
[A] Both poles of a magnet look the same. However, if you place a compass near a magnet, the needle that normally points toward the north pole of the earth moves in the direction of the magnet's south pole.
[Q] What does 'orientation direction' mean?
[A] Some magnets, called oriented or anisotropic magnets, have a preferred direction in which they should be magnetized. The "orientation direction," also known as an "easy axis" or "axis," is the direction that achieves its maximum magnetism. Other magnets, called unoriented or isotropic magnets, can be magnetized in any direction.
[Q] Is it true that magnetic fields are stronger closer to the magnets themselves?
[A] Yes. The strength of magnetic fields diminishes with distance. This phenomenon can be measured with exponential equations.
[Q] What is the difference between permanent magnets and electromagnets?
[A] Permanent magnets emit a magnetic field without the need for any external source of power. An electromagnet emits a magnetic field only when an electrical current runs through it.
[Q] Are permanent magnets really permanent?
[A] Magnets generally retain their magnetism unless they are stored near power lines, other magnets, and high temperatures. Over time, magnet materials lose a very small amount of magnetism. For example, Samarium Cobalt magnets may lose about 1% of their magnetism in ten years.
[Q] Do magnets get weaker? How?
[A] Several factors can weaken the magnetism in a magnet. If a magnet is stored close to heat, strong electrical currents, other magnets, or radiation, it can lose its strength. Additionally, high humidity can corrode neodymium magnets.
[Q] Can magnets that have lost their magnetism be re-magnetized?
[A] That depends on how the magnetism was lost. Usually magnets can regain their original strength unless they've been exposed to extreme heat.
[Q] Can magnets be made stronger?
[A] Once a magnet is fully magnetized, it cannot be made any stronger.
[Q] How is magnetic strength measured?
[A] A number of devices measure the strength of magnets. Here are a few common devices. 
  • Permeameters measure the magnetic characteristics of a specimen.
  • Gaussmeters measure the strength of a magnet in units called Gauss units.
  • Magnetometers measure in Gauss or arbitrary units for comparing magnets.
  • Pull Testers measure the strength of a magnet's pulling power in pounds, kilograms, or other force units.
[Q] What kind of magnets are the strongest?
[A] Rare earth magnets are the strongest.
Questions About Adams
[Q] What types of magnets does Adams Magnetic Products specialize in?
[A] We specialize in several types of magnets. 
  • Flexible magnets are made of thermoplastic materials and can be bent without affecting their performance.
  • Ceramic magnets, or hard ferrite magnets, are rigid and brittle provide good magnetic performance, and are generally economical.
  • Alnico, or aluminum-nickel-cobalt, magnets are ideal for high-temperature use.
  • Rare earth magnets deliver incredible strength in a small package.
  • Magnetic assemblies, which are up to 32 times stronger than magnets alone.
[Q] How do I contact Adams?
[A] Just call 1-800-747-7543, fax 1-800-747-1323, or email info@adamsmagnetic.com.
[Q] What information should I provide when ordering?
[A] We will help you with your order. Usually we ask for the following information. 
  • Size limitations of the magnet or, if available, a sketch or drawing with dimensions and tolerances.
  • Holding power or pounds pull required.
  • Degree of heat involved, if extreme.
  • Type of magnetic material.
  • Quantities required.
  • Information on what you want to use the magnet for.
[Q] Does Adams have a catalog?
[A] We have a catalog of offerings. If you would like to order a catalog, please call 1-800-747-7543, fax 1-800-747-1323, or email info@adamsmagnetic.com.
[Q] How long has Adams Magnetic Products been in service?
[A] Adams Magnetic Products was established in 1950, delivering more than 65 years of expertise and service.

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