Neodymium magnet air transport and international express standard
Shipping neodymium magnets by air is difficult, but it is not impossible. There are numerous rules, regulations, guidelines, and safety tips regarding the shipment of neodymium magnets, especially strong rare-earth metals like neodymium.
Because neodymium magnets can attract ferromagnetic metals like steel and iron, they can also affect and alter an aircraft’s compass and navigation system. Hence the reason for so many rules and guidelines regulating this activity.
To ship neodymium magnets by air, you must comply with the rules established by the International Air Transport Association, IATA, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Here are the most important regulations you must follow:
- “For carriage by aircraft, any package which has a magnetic field of more than 25 milligauss(0.00525 Gauss) measured at 4.5 m (15 feet) from any surface of the package.” – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Dept. of Transportation (PHMSA) rule 173.21 (d). This rule means that any package shipped by air must have a maximum field strength of 5.25 milligauss, regardless of whether or not the package is labeled magnetic. Anything above 5.25 milligauss should not be shipped by air.
- Suppose the maximum field strength observed at 7 feet is less than two milligauss (0.002 Gauss), or there is no significant compass deflection. In that case, the package is not restricted as “Magnetized Material” per the FAAand the IATA. This rule means that any package that measures two milligauss or less is not classified as magnetic, irrespective of whether the package’s material is a neodymium magnet. So you can ship such a package by air.
- If the maximum field strength observed at 7 feet is equal to or more than25 milligauss (0.00525 Gauss), the package is labeled as a “Magnetized Material” per the FAAand the IATA. For this rule, even though the package is labeled as magnetic, it can still be shipped by air.
These are the guidelines for shipping neodymium magnets by air. These guidelines will then inform how you should package your neodymium magnets for air shipping or, in some cases, whether you should consider other shipping methods entirely.
So what should you do when shipping neodymium magnets by air? Make sure your package meets the second and third requirements above, then you’ll be in the safe zone.
How to Package Neodymium Magnets for Air Shipping
If you package them right, your neodymium magnets can almost always be compliant with air shipping regulations. How do you make them compliant? Measure field strength after you’ve packaged your neodymium magnet to ensure they fall within the recommended range.
Materials Needed to Package Neodymium Magnets
- A cardboard box. The required size will depend on the size or number of neodymium magnets you’re packing into it.
- High-permeable materials. e.g., steel, iron, cobalt, or nickel.
- Non-magnetic materials. e.g., foam, crumpled paper, plastic, and others.
How to Package Neodymium Magnets for Air Shipping
- Line the base and walls of your cardboard box with the high permeability materials to form a box within the cardboard box.
- Fill the box with a layer of non-magnetic material.
- Place your neodymium magnet(s) right at the center of the box.
- If you have more than one neodymium magnet, arrange them in alternating stacks. I.e., if one has the north pole up, the next one should have the north pole down.
- Fill the remaining space (sides and the top) with non-magnetic materials until the box is filled with enough space to contain the top layer of highly absorbent material.
- Cover the top with a high permeability material.
- Close the cardboard box and holdfast the covers
- Measure the field strength to check for compliance with the regulations stated above.
- If the magnetic flux is within the recommended values, tape the box and get ready to ship your package. Otherwise, progressively add more layers of high permeability materials separated by thin layers of non-magnetic materials till the external magnetic flux comes within the permitted values. If necessary, get a bigger box.
- Put a “Magnetized Material” label on your box, and take it for shipping.
How much material you will need depends on the size and strength of your neodymium magnet. Larger, stronger neodymium magnets usually require more fortified walls to cage their magnetic flux. The major disadvantage is that the weight quickly adds up after adding a few steel or iron sheets, which may drive up your expenses.
Magnetic testing (magnetic testing air freight)
We’ve mentioned the rules guiding the shipment and transport of neodymium magnets by air. We’ve also gone over how to package your neodymium magnets, so they are fit for air shipping, but how do you know your package meets the requirements stated above?
Packaging your neodymium magnet in a thick cardboard box and other materials is not enough. Airlines and logistics companies that ship magnetic goods require customers to do magnetic testing and issue an “air transport condition identification report” to ensure the aircraft’s normal flight. So how do you do magnetic testing?
Magnetic testing with a gauss meter or magnetometer
To test your package with a gauss meter or magnetometer, follow the following steps:
- Place your already-packaged neodymium magnet on the floor.
- Using a measurement tape, measure 7 feet away from the box.
- Power on your gauss meter or magnetometer and place it exactly 7ft away from the package.
- Check the reading. If it’s more than 0.002 Gauss but less than 5.25 gauss, your package is safe to send by air.
- If the reading is above 5.25 gauss, move your gauss meter to 15ft away from the package and measure again.
- At 15ft, if the reading is below 5.25 gauss, your package is fit to be shipped by plane. But if the reading is at or above 5.25 gauss, the package cannot be shipped by air. You can tear it down and repackage it or consider other shipping options.
Note: if you purchase neodymium magnets from ROBO Magnetic, you don’t need to worry about these regulations or the packing and shipping of your package. We have a team of experts who are familiar with the rules and will pack your goods properly. However, if you have several neodymium magnets to ship overseas, you must pay attention to the regulations and pack your neodymium magnets accordingly.
Safety Tips for Shipping Neodymium Magnets by Air
When planning to ship neodymium magnets, you must be conscious of the safety tips for handling them to prevent injury to yourself and others.
- Keep ferromagnetic objects away from the packaging area so the neodymium magnet won’t attract them.
- Avoid handling neodymium magnets when it is not necessary to do so.
- Attempt to keep strong neodymium magnets away from the head, eyes, heart, and trunk regions.
- Avoid long-term close bodily contact with strong neodymium magnets.
- Those with cardiac pacemakers, hormone infusion pumps, or other sensitive medical devices should avoid interacting with neodymium magnets at all costs.
- Keep your electronics and credit cards stored away safely when working with neodymium magnets.
- Always wear safety goggles when handling neodymium magnets.
- Keep children as far as possible away from powerful neodymium magnets during packaging.
- Read and follow the age recommendations, warnings, safety messages, and product assembly instructions.