What are magnets?

What are magnets

Now appearing frequently in our everyday life and spanning widely across almost all industries, magnets were not always so well known or used but have proved infinitely valuable in the modern age of navigation, production and technology. Known to have been discovered by the Ancient Greeks around 600 BC, magnets and their magnetic properties were first recognized through the unearthing of lodestones. These naturally occurring rocks have magnetic properties and were seen to attract items that were rich in iron. Unknown to the Ancient Greeks at the time, these stones possessed a magnetic field, a current that passes around the stone between its north and South Pole that creates the magnetic force.

Magnetic materials were not put into use until much later by the Chinese and the Vikings (500 AD - 1500 AD) through the creation of the compass. A small piece of lodestone would be suspended in the air by a length of string and allowed to spin of its own accord and the magnetized piece of lodestone would then invariably point towards the Earth's North Pole! As lodestone is a naturally occurring mineral, the magnetic field lines up with that of the Earth, and this is how the lodestone would point towards the North Pole. This gave the Nordic seafarers a necessary sense of direction while navigating the seas and was an essential element in the eventual discovery of new land and exploration of the globe!

The Earth and the planets that make up our solar system, including the sun, are essentially large magnets. The magnetic field around the Earth keeps our moon in its orbit and the other planets in the solar system are kept in orbit by the sun's magnetic forces operating within its field. It is incredible to think that the same magnets that we use every day are operating in the same way as the sun and the planets in our solar system!

The different types of magnets that we use today are manufactured to suit our needs in terms of dimension and strength. Neodymium Magnets are the strongest magnets commercially available and are used in many different industries for heavy lifting and holding purposes. They are highly sensitive to heat and are quite brittle but are the best option for those looking for a strong secure hold. Ferrite Magnets are a relatively new invention and are the most popular due to their great resistance to heat, considerable durability and reasonable cost. In addition to these magnets, we also offer Alnico magnets (a combination of aluminum, nickel and cobalt and most often used in horseshoe magnets for education), and Samarium Cobalt magnets. We also offer magnetic products in more of a flexible form, such as magnetic sheeting, tapes and labels. In order to add versatility to their use, some of these products are available with a high quality self-adhesive backing, allowing them to be stuck to a non-magnetic surface with ease!

Magnets and magnetic products have come a long way since their discovery and they still play a key role in our everyday life. From the use of small shards of magnetic stone to navigate the globe, to the modern use of office magnets and the tiny magnets that operate within our electronic devices, magnets have been an essential element in our lives and our development for centuries!

Check out our range of Neodymium Magnets, Ferrite Magnets and Magnetic Strips to name a few of our most popular categories.