Tips for Taking Magnetic Vehicle Signs the Extra Mile

Image of magnetic vehicle sign on a work van.Magnetic vehicle signs are a popular way to give many businesses an inexpensive method of advertising. They can be printed locally by most sign shops, can be easily switched between vehicles and, with a little care, last several years.

In order to withstand highway speeds, most magnetic vehicle signs are printed on .030” magnetic sheeting. This ensures the magnet has enough sheer strength to stay on the car during driving. But selecting the right material is just part of the equation. Properly applying and maintaining your magnetic sign takes this investment the extra mile.

Application Tips
One of the appealing things about magnetic vehicle signs, is that there is no expert installation needed; just a few common sense tips.

  • Thoroughly clean and dry the vehicle surface where the magnet will be applied.
  • Ensure the magnetic sign is clean and free of any debris – especially if the sign has been stored and is being reapplied.
  • Select a smooth, flat, vertical, metal surface to apply the magnetic sign. Car doors are the most common spot for these signs.
  • The magnet being applied should be room temperature (at least 68 degrees F). Cold magnets become rigid, making them difficult to smoothly apply and strongly attach to the entire surface.
  • Beginning with a corner, gently place the magnet – letting it ‘grab’ the surface as it is placed.

Don’ts:
Ø Don’t drag the magnet across the surface of the car. If you need to reposition the sign, simply remove it by pulling back on a corner. This protects the finish of the vehicle.
Ø Don’t apply the magnet over rust, trim work, deep curves, or vinyl car wraps. These things create air gaps, which prevent the magnetic sheeting from fully gripping the metal. As a result, the sign is likely to fall off.
Ø Don’t trap water or grit between the magnet and vehicle surface. Not only does this create an air gap, but it can damage the finish of the vehicle.

 

Storage Tips
In between uses, take care to extend the life of your signs by showing your magnet a little love.

  • Keep magnetic vehicle signs, flat and dry.
  • Store where the temperature will not exceed 150 F (not in the trunk of a car).

Don’ts:
Ø Don’t store more than one sign with the magnet sides touching.
Ø Don’t store heavy items on the signs

 

Maintenance Tips
To prolong the life of the magnet and for the benefit of the vehicle, it’s ideal to periodically remove the sign and clean both the vehicle and magnet.

  • Magnetic signs can be cleaned with Windex or a gentle detergent. Dry thoroughly before reapplying.
  • Take care to avoid creasing or bending the corners of the sign during removal.
  • Ideally, magnetic signs should be removed prior to going through car washes to avoid damaging the graphics, trapping dirt and moisture between the magnet and car, or losing the magnetic sign altogether.

Looking for more tips on flexible magnetic sheeting or guidance on what material is right for your application? Our magnetic solutions specialists can help.

Science Fair Projects Featuring Magnets

Magnets make a fascinating topics for science fair projects,  as well as illustrating many basic principles of science and generating downright fun experiments.

As science fair projects begin in earnest, here is a collection of some of the best science fair projects or experiments involving magnets we’ve seen.

 

Illustration of the cross-sectiion of what a mag-lev train looks like.

Illustration from Science Buddies.

 1. Magnetic Levitation- Maglev trains have been big news in the past year. Explore the science behind the future of mass transit with basic (or not so basic) magnet levitation experimentation. Simple experiments show how magnets levitate using their repelling force. Science Buddies details a great experiment building a small maglev train. More advanced students can also build propulsion mechanisms with the train, or measure how other variables like temperature, weight and material selection affect the motion.

 

2.  Electromagnets- Homopolar motors are the simplest electric motors generating rotational movement; and are simple to create with basic components and magnets. In this link, see how to make a simple car using just a basic AA battery, two rare earth magnets and some foil. Other versions of this project include shaping wire to spin, or adding a screw or bolt into the configuration. Regardless of the setup, these experiments are excellent introduction to electromagnets and motors.

 

Photo of a science fair project or experiement where a magnet is hovering over a bag of cereal and pulling the iron to the top.

Can you stomach this experiment? Photo from Steve Spangler Science.

3.  Eat Iron – This simple experiment is visually amazing, involves searching out iron in ‘iron fortified’ food and might require a strong stomach. Cereals, and other iron-fortified foods, really do have iron added to their recipe, making them healthier for many. In this experiment, dissolving the cereal in water lets students see the exactly how much iron could be consumed as the magnet pulls the element away from the food. Compare types of cereal, breads, pastas, or snack bars. Visit Steve Spangler Science for more information on this experiment.

 

4.  Lenz’s Law – Explore Lenz’s Law with a stop watch, various thicknesses of copper tubes and magnets. This is a YouTube favorite, and for good reason – it’s a strong visual representation of eddy currents as they relate to a magnetic field. Education.com details a basic experiment, which can be expanded to add different materials, thicknesses of materials and strengths of magnets. Watch a video detailing this here.

 

These experiments can all be done with materials – including the magnets – found at your local hardware store or craft store. In some cases, complete kits are available from educational suppliers. If you’re looking for assistance with types of materials needed, our magnetic products specialists are available to assist.

If you, or your favorite student, has a magnetic science fair project or experiment, share the experience with us!

Understanding Magnet Grades

Grading of magnets can be a perplexing myriad of abbreviations and numbers on a curve. Understanding the grading is important factor in choosing the correct mMagnet Grade Chalkboardagnet for the application.

Permanent magnets are graded by the maximum energy the magnet produces. Typically, the higher the magnet grade, the higher the corresponding strength of the magnet.

Magnetic strength is most often measured in two ways, grade and pull strength. Raw magnetic materials are commonly measured by grade, and magnetic assemblies by pull strength. For the purposes here, the focus will remain on grades. For information about pull strength, refer to our post Measuring Pull Strength.

Determining Magnet Grades
To determine the strength of a permanent magnet, we measure Gauss, which is the amount of attractive force the magnet possesses. Additionally, we measure Oersteds, which is the permanence of that force. Because both traits are desirable in magnets, multiplying Gauss and Oersteds determines the Max Energy Product referred to as MGOe (Mega Gauss Oersteds) – which is the number used to grade the magnet.

Because temperature plays a large role in the long-term performance of a neodymium magnet, there may also be a letter after the grade of neodymium magnets. This is a standard rating for progressively higher temperatures for neodymium 35 (M, H, SH, UH, EH, or AH). For standard neodymium, no letter simply indicates a maximum operating temperature, which is 80⁰ C.

The Magnets
Currently, the strongest grade of magnetic material is neodymium, however each type of magnetic material has its advantages.

 Common Magnetic Material by Grade Range:

Magnet Grade Chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Application Considerations
Choosing a magnet may not be as simple as selecting the highest grade available. The application is critical in the specification process. In most cases, the same strength can be achieved by utilizing a slightly larger magnet, with a lower grade and at a cost savings. Heat, moisture, torque, and chemical exposure can all affect the strength and size of the magnet required for a project.

We always recommend consulting with our magnetic specialists to help select the best magnet for the application.

Measuring Pull Strength

One method of determining magnet strength is through pull strength, or a pull test.

Pull testing a magnet

Determining strength of a magnet through a pull test.

Pull strength is a reliable method of measuring the maximum strength, or holding power, that a magnet has before it is separated from ferrous material. It is measured in pounds or kilograms.

Magnetic assemblies are measured by the pounds of pull in a vertical test. Obviously, the higher the pull strength, the stronger the magnet. Permanent magnetic materials are commonly measured by grade. For more information about magnet grades, refer to the post Understanding Magnet Grades.

The Process
We rate our magnetic assemblies by pounds of pull in a vertical test. Each magnet’s entire magnetic surface is tested against a .5” thick, ground steel plate. Beginning with a clean magnetic surface and a clean steel surface, the magnetic assembly to be tested is attached to the steel plate. A hook with the measuring device is attached to the magnet and it slowly pulls the magnet upward until enough force to break the magnet away from the plate has been created. The measuring device records the pounds pull. By repeating this test multiple times, we can establish an accurate reading and pounds pull rating for the magnetic assembly.

Pull tests are widely used across the industry and it’s common for magnetic assemblies to have a rating of pounds pull in order to provide users with accurate insight of the product’s capability.
However, it is important to note that pull strength will vary with:

  • differing thicknesses of steel (particularly less than .5”)
  • types of steel composition
  • coatings on the steel, including paint or grease
  • or uneven surface area, such as rust

To see a brief video of testing process, click here.

Application Considerations
Choosing a magnetic assembly might be as straightforward as selecting the right pounds pull for your application. Considering things like how many poles are needed; if it there will be air gaps at any point on contact; how hot or wet the environment is; and the storage area can all affect the type of magnet best suited to a project.

We always recommend consulting with our magnetic solution specialists to help select the correct magnet for the application.

The History of Magnets – An Infographic

The History of Magnets

Going Fishing? Take a Magnet Too

Row Boat ready for fishing magnets

What to do when the fish just aren’t biting? Maybe it’s time to try angling for a different sort of catch.

Some fisherman routinely use fishing magnets, or strong retrieving magnets, to rescue items that fell out of the boat or off the dock, including tackle boxes, tools and even anchors that have come off their lines. Lost keys, too, have been retrieved with fishing magnets, using a little time and lot of patience.

Or, try using magnets as the bait and you might just reel in an attractive treasure. For some, this pastime is an exciting metal treasure hunt in the water. Fishing for sunken treasure along the floor of the lake or stream has turned up old coins, knives, safes, bikes, and even motorcycles and war relics.

Tips

Regardless of the reason for the use, there are a few things to keep in mind when using a fishing magnet.

Be sure to select a strong enough rope to thread through the eyebolt – it needs to be strong enough for the magnet, as well as any water current and the items being retrieved.   Likewise, attach the rope securely – such as with the anchor hitch knot. It’s a good idea to wear gloves to prevent rope burn. Experienced users report slowly dragging the magnet through the water provides the best results.

Fishing Magnet Product Image

The Magnet

The Fisherman’s Magnet is specifically designed for use in the water, with a black enamel finish to help resist corrosion. This powerful fishing magnet lifts up to 150 lbs. and the eyebolt and nuts are included.

Magnetic Road Sweepers are the Right Tool for Emergency Access

TYMCO® utilizes Magnet Source® Sweepers for Road Clean-up after Fertilizer Plant Explosion in Texas.

There are so many factors involved with providing an effective response to an emergency situation. Having the right tools and equipment is always part of a successful solution.

TYMCO, Inc. is a manufacturer of Regenerative Air Street Sweepers located in Waco, Texas, about 19 miles south of West, Texas. When the fertilizer plant located in West exploded on April 17, 2013, TYMCO volunteered to bring their expertise, equipment and the needed sense of urgency to get the job done right and quickly.
Truck w-sweeper4

“The situation was that emergency vehicles were having difficulty gaining access to the necessary areas because of all the debris scattered across the roads,” said Gary Young, Vice President, Engineering for TYMCO. “The first priority in our cleanup role was to clear the roads of all hazardous debris. We have a large selection of road cleanup equipment to handle any size task. We chose to go with the Magnet Source® 84” and 96” Hanging Magnetic Sweepers because of the need for speed and simplicity. We did not have time to install our larger electrically actuated magnetic sweepers, so we chose to hang these off our big International Trucks and go,” Young explained. (The Magnet Source® brand is a trademark of Master Magnetics, Inc.).

Truck w-sweeper2

“Our initial process was to have three to four people walking along with our street sweeper trucks, tossing large-size debris into the street sweeper, and periodically clearing off magnetic sweeper. The magnetic sweeper protected our trucks’ tires so we could proceed with cleaning up the rest of the debris,” Young added.

Hanging Magnetic Sweepers are available in widths from 18” to 96” from Master Magnetics. The Magnet Source® sweeper product line also includes push-type and trailer-type magnetic sweepers. These sweepers are super-powered, permanent magnets for the removal of sharp iron objects from roads, parking areas, loading docks, runways and other important traffic areas. Hang-type magnetic sweepers greatly reduce the possibility of costly flat tires and injuries caused by nails, scrap iron particles, staples, etc. Two eyebolts are installed on each magnet for suspending from vehicles.

Simply hang a magnetic sweeper from your forklift or vehicle bumper and “sweep” all contaminated areas. The sweeper hangs approximately 2” to 4” off the ground, and maximum operating speed is 5 mph. To clear collected debris, wipe the face of the magnet with a glove or heavy shop towel. There are also magnetic sweeper models available with quick-release handles for the easiest removal of collected debris.

Magnets Clear Dirt Roads of Hazardous Metal Debris

Master Magnetics offers various magnetic sweepers to clear metal debris from different kinds of surfaces – factory aisles and walkways to patios and roadways. Depending on the application, our magnetic sweepers offer the perfect solution, and range in size from small hand-held to trailer-type.

We recently ran across an interesting story about large magnets being used to clear roads of metal debris in Lancaster County, Nebraska.

Please see article by clicking here.

Printing Direct to Magnet Creates Profitable Opportunities

Keeping your wide format printers busy is a primary key to your success.

PrintMagnetVinyl flexible magnetic sheeting

PrintMagnetVinyl flexible magnetic sheeting

The ability to print direct to flexible magnetic sheeting opens up entire new channels of business that you may have been missing.

From vehicle signs for contractors, realtors and restaurant delivery vehicles, to P.O.P. retail signs, calendars and local sports team schedules, there are an endless amount of items that make printing on magnetic sheeting a very profitable segment of your business.

Some printers are reluctant to take advantage of these opportunities because they feel that the traditional  two-step process of printing on a substrate and laminating to the magnet, or printing on unmagnetized material and then magnetizing it, is too time consuming and not an efficient process. Printing direct to magnet avoids these extra steps, saving time and money.  With good quality magnetic sheeting, excellent high resolution printing results can be achieved with solvent, eco-solvent, UV and latex ink systems. For aqueous inks, you can get magnetic sheeting already laminated with a paper topcoat for one-step direct to magnet printing

A common reason cited by printers for resistance to printing on magnet is the concern for running magnetic material through their printer. One problem may be if the platen is metal, the smooth and even flow of the magnet being fed into the printer would be restricted. This is easily overcome by covering the platen with styrene, chip board, vinyl or duct tape, or anything to create an air gap between the metal platen and magnet.

Other issues, such as print head height adjustment, ink saturation, or other metal parts of the printer that the magnet will come in contact with, can be answered by your printer manufacturer and referring to the printer’s profiles. “Everything you run through a printer requires a unique set-up for optimal performance and quality, and magnet is no different,” said Ralph Terramagra, Mutoh Eastern Regional Sales Manager. “The platen and post heater on most Mutoh printers are made of aluminum so they will not cause a problem with the magnet. There is a steel piece across the back where the media feeds in that will need to be covered as explained earlier. Basically, if you keep the magnet from sticking to metal it is really not much different than printing on vinyl. That being said, remember it is much thicker so keep your head height in a higher position, and it is also heavier so your print feed will need to be adjusted,” explained Terramagra.

Mutoh ValueJet Printer w-PrintMagnetVinyl

Mutoh ValueJet Printer printing direct on PrintMagnetVinyl

The extra revenue generated by printing on magnet can help pay for your existing printer and will contribute to your ongoing success and growth.

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Unique P.O.P. Display Features Best Selling Magnets at National Hardware Show

Master Magnetics’ Mini Sweeper™ and Pick-Up Pal™ displayed in functional and space-saving design

Master Magnetics, Inc. will feature their two best selling items, the Magnetic Mini Sweeper™ and the Magnetic Pick-Up Pal,™ in a new functional, space-saving end cap display at the upcoming National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, booth 7219.

Sidekick Combo Display

The new metal fixture is an innovative, permanent display for the Mini Sweeper™ and Pick-Up Pal™ that attaches to the end of store gondolas. The durable and long-lasting display comes with attention-getting, four-color, trilingual side panels. The Sidekick Combo Display makes the most efficient use of space on gondola fixtures without full end cap shelving. It’s ideal for stores with limited floor space. The metal fixture holds four Mini Sweepers™ and six Pick-Up Pals™ and mounts centered or to either side on the slotted gondola standard.

 

 

 

The 15” Magnetic Mini-Sweeper™ (MSRP $29.35) and Pick-Up Pal™ (MSRP $23.05) are the ideal lightweight tools for removing hazardous metal debris such as nails, screws, bolts and metal scrap from areas in the garage, home, workshop or outdoors. The Magnetic Pick-Up Pal™, with a pull strength of 65 lbs., is also great for retrieving tools or metal objects from hard-to-reach areas.

Retail-Packaged Magnets

The Magnet Source™ brand is a proven profit center for retail markets with over 250 SKUs, trilingual packaging and customized planograms. The complete line includes retail-packaged magnets for Hardware, Home Improvement, Automotive, Craft, Hobby, Office/School Supplies and Housewares categories. The Magnet Source™ magnets are available at local and national retailers throughout North America.