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How does a pot magnet work?

Through hole and magnet on a through hole pot magnet

A pot magnet works by attaching itself to ferromagnetic materials with the help of its magnetic field, or to non-ferromagnetic materials with the help of fittings (such as studs and threaded holes) on the top of its steel shell.


For more information on how a magnet works, see the page: How does a magnet work?

Pot magnet with a steel shell

The steel shell on a pot magnet means that it can hold a greater amount of ferromagnetic material. This is because the steel pot causes the magnetic force to be contained within the shell on the ferromagnetic surface, making the magnetic pull stronger.

Types of magnetic field: pocket horseshoe magnet and a rectangle bar magnets magnetic fields

This is in comparison to a horseshoe magnet or bar magnet where the magnetic field lines are splayed around the magnet and are not focused on the surface the magnet is attaching itself to.

Magnetic field lines of a pot magnet

As the magnetic field is concentrated in one area, the magnet will not be allowed to attract ferromagnetic materials over a large air gap. This is because the magnetic field lines will not stretch out beyond the sides of the shell.

Limpet pot magnet magnetic pull on a steel sheet

The pull force of a pot magnet attracts the ferromagnetic material to the magnet, holding it in place. The larger the pull force of the pot magnet, the more material it can attract.

Neodymium bar magnet with a chipped coating

A magnet's pull force is determined by a number of different factors; for example, how the magnet has been coated and any damage which may have occurred to the surface of the magnet.