How to Repel 2 Pieces of Metal With Electromagnets

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In order to repel two pieces of metal, two magnets are needed because electromagnets will only repel each other. Discover why electromagnets can't repel two pieces of metal with help from a science teacher in this free video on electromagnets and physics.

Part of the Video Series: Physics & Electromagnetism
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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to tell you how you can repel two pieces of metal with electromagnets. Now this is a difficult thing to do because when we use the word repel it means repulsion and repulsion only occurs if we have two magnets. So we have got to be very careful about this because we can't actually get two pieces of unmagnetic metal to repel because automatically a piece of metal if it is not magnetic, if it is brought near to a magnet it becomes magnetic and it becomes magnetic so that it will attract. It will never repel. So if I have a magnet here and I have a piece of metal and the metal must be basically iron or an iron type metal, iron or steel then this magnet will always attract this metal, it will always attract. Only if this is magnetic will we get repulsion so the answer is electromagnets themselves will repel each other but they will never repel a piece of metal unless it is also magnetic so if this is a North Pole and if I magnetize this so it produces it becomes magnetized metal and it has a North at this end then this will repel so this is the only way we can actually get pieces of metal to be repelled by an electromagnet or any magnet is by making them magnetic and then they will repel on the basis where North Pole repels a North Pole and South repels a South. Otherwise it will attract North to South. So this is basically how we get a couple of pieces of metal to repel.

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