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This Magnet is Broken: Holding Less Weight than Rated – Manufacturer of Magnetic Products

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A common problem when using magnets is that they do not seem to hold up as much weight as they say they are rated for. Does this mean that the magnet is defective?

While it certainly can mean that, odds are that is not the case. There are a few misconceptions that can come into play when trying to figure out just how much strength a magnet can hold.

How Magnets are Tested

Magnets are strength tested using a very clean and very thick piece of steel. The two key words there are thick and clean. Both of those are huge factors that can reduce the amount of weight that a magnet can hold. Let us review some magnet basics to see why.

Distance Does Not Make the Magnet Grow Stronger

Magnetic attractive force diminishes very quickly when it is separated from the surface that it is acting upon. Mathematically it is an inverse square relationship. This means that force is reduced by taking the distance times itself.

Those numbers can add up quickly, and actually are something that can be used when wanting to separate magnets. Once you start to get the magnets apart, it becomes easier and easier.

Unfortunately that means that even thin layers of paint, dirt or other non-magnetic material can cause a magnet to become less powerful. If you are attempting to hang something from a magnetic hook hung from a painted steel beam, the thickness of the paint can reduce the weight the hook can hold. The same can be said for a rusty steel cabinet.

For a magnet to be truly effective, it needs to be as close as possible to what it is being stuck to. This might mean scraping off layers of paint or cleaning off surfaces from all dirt and debris.

More Material means More Strength

In our test we mentioned that a thick steel plate is used. The reason is simple; the more material there is for the magnet to interact with, the stronger the force is going to be. Sure, there are limits to that (remember our inverse square rule above), but there is a minimum that is needed to attain full strength.

Think about attempting to stick your magnetic hook to a thin gauge steel wall. Sure, it will stick, but if the metal is thin enough, there will not be enough magnetic force generated by the magnet to hold its full weight.


The last thing might just be that you are pulling down at an angle on your hook and applying leverage. Magnets are rated for pulling directly away, not down at an angle. This means that if you are trying to hold something vertically with a magnetic hook that is applied horizontally, your force will be diminished.

Check out BC Magnets wide variety of hooks and magnetic lifters for all of your magnetic lifting needs.



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