What is a magnet?
A magnet is a material or object that produces an invisible magnetic field, which allows it to attract ferromagnetic materials.
A ferromagnetic material is one that is attracted by a magnetic force. To be ferromagnetic, a material must contain an element of iron, nickel, cobalt, or gadolinium.
A magnetic field is the force around a magnet which gives the magnet its ability to attract and hold ferromagnetic materials.
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Every magnet has a two magnetic poles, a north pole and a south pole. They are often called the north and south 'seeking' poles as each will try to seek out their namesake, i.e. either the north or south magnetic poles of the earth.
There are two sets of north and south poles on the earth, the magnetic poles and the geographic poles. The north magnetic pole is currently at 80 degrees north latitude and 105 degrees longitude (north Canada). The Earth's magnetic poles are constantly moving, due to the earth's solid and liquid metal cores moving past each other very slowly.
There are two different types of magnet: permanent magnets and electromagnets.
Permanent magnets produce their own magnetic field and can last indefinitely. Electromagnets, on the other hand, need electricity to work. This guide focuses on the different types of permanent magnets, including weld clamp magnets and pot magnets.