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B Can magnets be used to send a metal ball through a pipe?

  1. Mar 29, 2017 #1
    To elaborate more on my question: Is it possible to send metal balls through a pipe with magnets arranged a certain way which could hit a target with force. I've seen something similar done before but I think the ball was also a magnet, is that the only way possible?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2017 #2
    What type of metal is the ball? If it is a magnetic substance, then it would certainly be possible.
  4. Mar 29, 2017 #3
    Any that I can buy online or from a general hardware store. Can you give me an example with what kind or arrangement this can be done? I was hoping to place loads of magnets on 4 parallel sides inside a pipe. Would the magnets have to be 2 by 1 something and then place diagonally like I have seen in videos?
  5. Mar 29, 2017 #4
    "Metal" is way too vague. What element/compound/alloy are you speaking of that makes up the ball? Only certain elements on the periodic table are magnetic.
  6. Mar 29, 2017 #5
    Like I said it doesn't matter, just tell me which ones can be used. I found this image though, do you know if it is accurate?

  7. Mar 29, 2017 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    Are you trying to ask how to build a weapon?
  8. Mar 29, 2017 #7
    Iron, Nickel, and Cobalt are all magnetic elements.
  9. Mar 29, 2017 #8
    Basically yes, it's a personal project. I've applied for a weapons engineering job and wanted to be able to put a few things on my CV. I've wanted to do this for a while anyway.
    Thank you, do you know if 30 x 15 x 5 mm magnets with 10 kg force stacked in rows as shown in the image above will be too much force or not enough?

    Here is what I'm thinking of buying.

    To be stacked in rows to send down a ball:

    The balls which I might send down until I find something better
  10. Mar 29, 2017 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    Are you aware that this is a public forum, and that it can be discovered by search engine and read by anyone including children?
  11. Mar 29, 2017 #10
    It depends on what you are trying to accomplish with this weapon (I hope this is something safe). How fast do you want to shoot the magnets?
  12. Mar 29, 2017 #11
    Yes, it's not like making a magnetic rail gun is in any way illegal. At least not in my country.
  13. Mar 29, 2017 #12
    For now just enough to shoot through a thin piece of plywood, maybe several mm thick. Then stronger later on.
  14. Mar 29, 2017 #13
    I've ordered the magnets, I'll post back here with any results I get and the arrangement I used.
  15. Mar 29, 2017 #14


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    As far as I know, permanent magnets can't provide any acceleration in this kind of setup. The repulsive forces will equal the attractive forces as the magnet passes through the tube and you'll just get the same output velocity as the input.
  16. Mar 29, 2017 #15
    I'm talking about something like this:
  17. Mar 29, 2017 #16
    Don't particle accelerators work in a similar way though (except with electricity instead of magnetism)?
  18. Mar 29, 2017 #17
    I believe so yes, that would be like a gauss cannon/coilgun I believe.
  19. Mar 30, 2017 #18
    I looked at the video, and what I think is happening is that the two guys put energy into the system when they bring the "shuttle" magnet towards the rail. Then it gets propelled through the rail, and the friction at the end makes it stop. Otherwise it would have started returning.
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