The Relationship Between Magnets and Electronics

Magnets and electronics do not get along. Strong electromagnets can damage electronic components by stripping away the device’s programming, thereby rendering it useless. In fact, this is why travelers are warned not to put their room key cards in the same pocket as their cell phones; the electromagnetic field that’s being transmitted from your phone has enough power to wipe away the programming contained on the mag strip.

With so much of our lives revolving around electronics, from circuit boards in our laptops to the inner workings of LED televisions, the risk of losing our data to strong magnetic fields seems quite high — but just how does it actually work? Let’s take a look.

Electronics Explained

Electronics are so named because they function by storing electric charges in the form of electrons. These charges are then responsible for the opening and closing of pathways for currents through circuits. Processors store and move these charges between different transistors to run calculations and compare values, while disk-based hard drives use the presence (or absence) of electronic charges on individual sections of a spinning magnetic disk to store and retrieve files. Electronics control the precise positioning of these charges.

Unsurprisingly, magnets exude either a positive or negative magnetic charge. Electromagnets have been amplified by an electrical current, which increases its magnetic force. When a sufficiently powerful electromagnet gets near electronic equipment, it affects the electrons in the transistors and memory sectors of hard drives and memory modules; it actually rips away these electrons, virtually destroying the programs that they make up. Without the code needed for the program, the device is unable to function properly.

As a result of these risks, it is vital that strong electromagnets not come into contact with delicate circuit boards. Proper precautions must be made during the PCB manufacturing process as well as the printed circuit board assembly steps. Additionally, end users must make sure they are not accidentally exposing their precious technology to any strong electromagnetic forces. Since printed circuit boards account for 31% of the cost of any product, you’ll definitely be paying for the mistake!

If you have any questions about the steps we take in our PCB manufacturing process, don’t hesitate to give Advanced Assembly a call at 800-838-5650.

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