Handle Sheet Metal With The Power Of Microwave Oven Electromagnets

For those of us who don’t do it every day, handling sheet metal can be a nerve-wracking affair. Sheet metal is thin, heavy, and sharp, and one wrong move while handling it can have much the same result as other such objects, like guillotine blades. If only there was a way to lessen the danger.

Perhaps something like this electromagnetic sheet metal handler by [Lucas] over at “Cranktown City” would be useful in keeping one’s fingers and toes attached. Like many interesting builds, this one starts with the dismemberment of a couple of old microwave ovens, to liberate their transformers. Further dissection resulted in open-frame electromagnets, which when energized with a battery from a Ryobi cordless tool do a fine job sticking to stuff.

[Lucas] then harvested the battery connector from the cheapest possible Ryobi tool — an electric fan — and built a prototype, which worked well enough to proceed to a more polished version two. This one had the same guts in a nicely designed case, 3D-printed from lime green filament for that OEM look. The video below shows the design and build, as well as field testing. We have to say this gave us a bit of pause, especially when the battery popped out of one of the handlers and sent the sheet on a near-miss of [Lucas]’ toes. Close call there.

If you’re thinking that you’ve seen MOTs repurposed as electromagnets before, you’re right. Whether climbing like [Spider-Man], lifting heavy steel beams, or walking upside down, microwave oven transformers are the key.

Thanks to [Zane Atkins] for the tip.

17 thoughts on “Handle Sheet Metal With The Power Of Microwave Oven Electromagnets

  1. Having handled a fair bit of sheet and plate over the years, these intrigue and frighten me. I have used permanent (switchable) magnet handles, but most often the proper gloves (leather with kevlar being my preferred). Nothing like a 3m razor blade fresh from the shear to remove fingers, especially when it is a 10mm thick 50Kg offcut

    1. Came here to mention that there are switchable permanent magnets.

      I’d like to see a comparison what are the benefits of this? Like could it be driven with AC well enough to work on Copper or Aluminum by inducing an electromagnetic effect in the non ferrous material?

      1. Nah it’s just that the switchable permanent magnets which are much cheaper and simpler and don’t need a battery and have been used for decades… don’t garner youtube hits. That said it, is still cool to see a new use for a MOT

  2. first 2 rules of tin knocking: 1 never try to catch a piece of tin or tin pipe you dropped just get out of the way and hopefully your scattered tools are all cordless. 2 wear good leather gloves if you can. Haven’t seen leather/kevlar, those sound good. Back in the day the butchers had wire mesh but too slippery.

    1. You can get pure Kevlar gloves intended for oyster shucking. Decent dexterity (likely they’re about -1).

      They stand up to stabbing with the tip of a shucking knife. It will still hurt, but bruised not cut.

      1. You can just buy safety gloves these days with a decent cut protection rating. They are likely kevlar reinforced, but can also have abrasion or impact protection and a rubberised grip layer. The good ones are really flexible, I really liked the Hyflex cut 5.

  3. If it’s big enough, sharp enough, and heavy enough to damage me … no way I trust a home made electromagnet to handle it unless it’s at the end of a robotic arm.

  4. Electromagnets are used industrially to move lots of heavy stuff. Key thing is no humans underneath a lift. That applies to all systems mechanical or magmetic unless they are specifically engineered for that ( like hydraulic automotive lifts that park on physical pawls that only retract under power while lowering).

  5. I think this needs low battery alarm because battery protecting ic can cut power in random moment. Ideally- bms can’t cut power until swith is preset, better damage cels and save legs.

  6. It’d be perfectly good at lifting e.g. pieces of sheet steel that are too hot to touch but cool enough to be magnetic – but when I picture awkward pieces of thin metal and cutting my fingers, I think of a corrugated tin roof, and you really need gloves for those sheets and their offcuts.

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