One of the most simplest Magnetic Separators is a Cartridge or Tube Magnet. It is basically a stainless steel tube filled with magnet slugs inter-spaced with steel discs which act as magnetic poles. This then produces a magnetic field which attracts magnetically susceptible materials onto the surface of the tube where they are held.
Such Cartridge or Tube Magnetic Separators are used widely across the process industries and can be found in plants processing food, plastics, chemicals, minerals and in recycling and ceramic plants. They are commonly around 150mm to 300mm in length and the highest strength model, using Neodymium Iron Boron or Rare Earths, can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Also, if the Magnet is placed next or onto any solid piece of steel, the magnetic attraction is so strong that it becomes almost impossible to remove.
However, due to their pocket-size, these Cartridge Magnets commonly go missing from process plants and can be found in the most unusual places. These are the top 5:
- Stuck to traffic lights – Approx. 7 Cartridge Magnets went missing from a plant in a Scottish town. The next day, the Highways Agency was called out as the traffic lights had failed on a major intersection causing traffic chaos. On arrival, they found one of the missing Cartridge Magnets stuck to the side of one of the light control boxes and the magnetic field had caused the system to malfunction;
- Stuck on a television – After purchasing a brand new television, a father returned home one evening to find his son holding a Cartridge Magnet and rubbing it across the screen because it produced contortion and strange colours. Once the Cartridge Magnet went too near the steel frame and became stuck, the father than realised, to his horror, that the screen had been permanently damaged and he now had a Cartridge Magnet stuck to the TV set;
- Stuck onto the side of a car – An inexperienced sales engineer had the embarrassment of having to explain to his manager that the sample Cartridge Magnet he had been given to show customers was now stuck firmly to his driver’s side door. Also, in his failed attempts to remove it, he had seriously scratched and dented the paintwork;
- Stuck to a mobile phone – It was a classic case of “I wonder what if…” Very quickly this process engineer discovered that iPhones and strong magnets are not a good pairing and having them stuck together only means that it is time to buy a new mobile;
- Stuck to another company’s exhibition equipment – Demonstrating the amazing magnetic attraction power of a Cartridge Magnet is always something worth doing. However, this demonstration at a major European exhibition didn’t go accordingly to plan as once the Cartridge Magnet was placed, with a loud clunk, against the steel upright of an large item of equipment to show how difficult it was for even the strongest person to move it, then came the problem of actually getting it off. After several attempts and some superficial damage to the exhibition quality paintwork, the Cartridge Magnet stayed there for the remainder of the show;
Thankfully, in all these cases there were no injuries, but the exceptional magnetic strength of Cartridge Magnets today means that they have to be handled with care and understanding.