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Magnet Strength - What about Gauss

All Magnets are not equal

Most manufacturers of permanent magnets use the term "gauss rating" to characterize their products.  however, this term is misleading since "gauss rating"  characterizes the core of the magnet but not the magnetic field on the surface of the magnet.

There are two types of magnets.  "Bipolar" magnets have repeatable north/south polarity on the same side of the magnet.  These magnets are usually thin and flexible.  "Unipolar" is a term used to distinguish the other category of magnets that are usually "unidirectionally" applied to the body.  The two magnetic poles are located on different sides of the magnet - the south pole on one side and the north pole on the other.  By having both poles on different sides, one may better exploit the basic laws of physics and assure a greater depth of penetration ... generally 4-8 times larger than bipolar magnets.

The chart below shows the dramatic difference in the depth of penetration between "bipolar" and "unipolar" magnets, as measured by the MSM-7 instrument (patent applied for).  While the maximum depth of penetration of "bipolar" magnets is approximately 1.25 inches, the magnetic fields generated by Tectonic ceramic magnets penetrate 4.25 inches.  The surface field strength and the depth of penetration are all-important in determining the magnet's effectiveness.


magnet.bmp (15894 bytes) magnet.bmp (15894 bytes)
Depth of Penetration


Maximum Depth of Penetration "Bipolar" (Bioflex, Magnelyfe, Nikken, TruFit) and "Unipolar" (MagnetRelief, BMI, and Tectonic) Lower Back Units
depth.tif (11344 bytes)
Bioflex Magnelyfe Nikken TruFit MagnetRelief BMI Tectonic
"Bipolar" Magnets "Unipolar" Magnets

What about Gauss

What is gauss?  The Permanent Magnet Design and Application Handbook by Lester Moskowitz provides the following definition:  The cgs unit of magnetic induction.

For clarification let us proceed to the definition of magnetic induction.   Induction, magnetic (general):  The flux per unit area measured at right angles to the direction of the flux.

If after reading the above definitions you feel that you don't know much more than you did before reading them, you are not alone.

For our purposes it is probably best to approach this question from a different direction and establish what gauss in not.

Gauss is not a number which indicates the strength of a magnet.

Unfortunately there isn't a number which describes the overall strength of a magnet in an open circuit.  Magnets used for biomagnetic purposes are described as open-circuit magnets because they don not have supplemental ferromagnetic parts to provide a complete path for the magnetic energy.  Any type of "bare" magnet alls into this category.  This would include magnets used in mattresses, support items, jewelry, and encased blocks.

When people see magnetic products described in terms of gauss they incorrectly assume that these magnets have been measured in some way and that this "gauss rating" describes the strength of the magnet the same way that a gasoline engine could be described in terms of horsepower or cubic inches.

A gauss meter is and instrument which can be used to measure lines of magnetic flux at specific point on a magnet, but that reading provides no information about the total energy of the magnet being tested or about how far the energy will project from its surface.

In describing their products some people talk about the manufacturer's rating.   This number refers to a specific property of a magnet which will be the same for any size magnet made from the same material.  Once again, it is not a measure of the total energy of the magnet.

The following photographs should illustrate the problems both with using the manufacturer's rating and with taking measurements with a gauss meter.
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Fig. 1 shows a neodymium-iron-boron magnet next to a Penny.  The manufacturer's rating for this magnet is 12,500 gauss.  The flux density on the surface of this magnet, measured using a gauss meter, is 985 gauss.  A simple magnetometer, another device used to measure field strengths, reads 2 gauss at a distance of 1/8" from the surface of the magnet.
mag1.tif (434914 bytes)
Fig. 2 shows a ferrite ceramic magnet next to a Penny.  The manufacturer's rating for this magnet is 3850 gauss.  The flux density on the surface of the magnet, measured using a gauss meter, is 565 gauss.  The magnetometer reads 2 gauss at a distance of approximately 3/4" from the surface of the magnet.


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