How to Select the Right Magnetic Track for Your Next Project

Magnetic tracks have been used on countless magnetic signs, but when it comes to selecting the right one, there are several factors you’ll need to consider beforehand. Think about the size of your project, the material you’re going to be using and your budget, among other details, so you can choose a magnetic track that matches those criteria best and doesn’t disappoint down the line. Here are some tips and factors you should keep in mind when selecting the right magnetic track for your next project.

Choose your rail type

There are three main types of magnetic tracks, each with its own set of pros and cons. With rare-earth (neodymium) magnets, you can get a smooth, quiet ride but at a higher cost; ferrite magnets are much cheaper and can be used in a wider range of applications, but their lower power will often result in a bumpy ride. Samarium cobalt is generally seen as an ideal compromise between rare-earth and ferrite—it’s quieter than standard steel or glass but offers comparable strength while keeping costs low.

Consider Motor and Brake Options

Choosing a motor and brake for your next project is always a balancing act. The more power you need, typically, the more expensive and larger your motor will be. On top of that, electric brakes are typically much stronger than magnetic brakes (i.e., disc brakes). This means choosing your braking system may impact what size motor you’ll need for proper acceleration and deceleration on your next magnetic track project. Also, keep in mind electric motors are generally easier to control than their magnetic counterparts so they may be a better option if you have limited experience or you don’t want as much control over speeds or track length/curvature.

Understand your options for mounting hardware

Before you purchase your track, it’s a good idea to decide what type of mounting hardware will be best suited for your project. Most tracks come with multiple options and selecting one that works with your existing mounting hardware can save you money. For example, if you want to mount a track along an interior wall, it’s wise to go with a low-profile bracket. If you don’t want any additional weight on floor joists or are installing in an attic, consider heavy-duty brackets that won’t sink into the wood. Finally, consider whether you have enough clearance between floor beams or obstacles before buying rail hardware so you get exactly what you need—and nothing more.

Ensure you have the proper safety standards in place

Safety is always a priority when working with heavy-duty materials, and it’s especially important when working with powerful magnets. Always be sure that your project has been planned out and carried out with safety in mind, so there’s no unnecessary risk of injury. If you want to work with permanent or strong magnets at home, make sure you follow proper safety procedures so as not to lose a finger or even your life. For example, never wear any jewelry while working around a magnetic field.

Decide on lighting requirements

How much light will you need, and where will you place it? For example, if your office is a windowless cave with fluorescent bulbs hanging on chains over desks, you’ll want more task lighting. If your work area is outside or has lots of windows, you may need more general ambient light. Use mirrors and reflective materials (like white paint) strategically around your office and home; they help brighten up dark corners. And remember that daylight savings time ends soon — use it as an excuse to add additional natural light to any dark corners in your workspace. As always, make sure everything is powered by surge protectors — or even better yet, unplugged during lightning storms.

Plan ahead for maintenance access

You’ll also want to plan ahead and make sure you don’t accidentally hit any of your own lines when tracking. If you do, you could damage both sides of the pipe, which would definitely cause some problems later on. So avoid digging right next to a line. Instead, try digging along its edge or even behind it so that if you miss, there’s no harm done except maybe a couple of trees down and a few fence posts knocked over. It’s always easier to hit a line in an open area than one surrounded by trees or buildings; just be aware of what’s around that line before starting any work nearby.

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