Strong magnets can have an incredible and surprising magnetic pull despite their relatively small size. For example, a magnet of just 10mm3, the size of a regular dice, has an incredible pulling force of 4kg. If you have never handled strong magnets before it is easy to get caught out by their power. Small magnets can cause painful nips and pinches but large ones will crush fingers in the blink of an eye.
That said, handled with respect, strong magnets can have many uses and provide lots of amusement. It is five times easier to slide a magnet from a ferrous surface, or another magnet, than pull it off vertically. Here, we will demonstrate how to safely and easily separate small and large magnets.
Small magnets, less than 10mm3 in diameter can usually be separated by hand by sliding one from the other using a sideways movement; remember it is five times easier to slide a magnet than remove it vertically. Watch this instructional video for a demonstration.
Medium magnets from 1cm3 to 30cm3 can be difficult to slide using your hands alone, plus if you don’t get a good purchase on the magnet they may snap back together and you risk trapping your fingers. For medium magnets, a good tactic is to place the two (or more) magnets overhanging the edge of a desk or table and slide one vertically downwards. Once separated, keep the free magnet moving away until a safe distance from the other(s) to avoid them snapping back together. Watch this instructional video for a demonstration.
Large magnets great than 30cm3 can be incredibly difficult to separate by hand. The most effective way to separate large magnets is to use a separating device known as a magnet splitter or separator jig. These devices come in various forms but the component which is consistent across all designs is a non-magnetic handle which is used to push one magnet from the other. Our video below shows you how you can separate strong, large magnets safely and easily using a separating device.
Remember, magnets, particularly neodymium magnets are very hard and brittle. Don’t be fooled by the shiny exterior, they may look tough like steel but if two magnets slam together they will crack and break.
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