How do Metal Detectors in an Airport Work


A metal device is any device that detects metals through the use of electromagnetic induction. It is mostly useful in the airport to discover passengers that are carrying any hidden weapon. All the access to an airport is through a terminal and anyone with the intention of going into the airport will have to walk through a metal detector. Every luggage and items will also go through an X-ray machine.

Metals such as iron, cobalt, and nickel will create disturbances if placed in a magnetic field. These metals will create changes in the electromagnetic currents which will in turn be detected by a metal detector. It is a really big job to be in charge of the safety of an airport. This is the reason why the metal detectors are kept in terminals to screen passengers and items. It will screen for weapons, chemicals, and other foreign materials that are not allowed inside the airport.

What do airport metal detectors detect

The metal detector in the airport serves security purposes. They are installed there to detect metal objects like knives, guns, chemicals, and many more. This is the reason why before entering into a metal detector, you need to place all the metals in your body inside a separate tray. Something as harmless as a belt might trigger the detector. Even though the metal detector is highly sensitive, its sensitivity can be tweaked to make it less sensitive. This is usually so that objects like coins or jewelry will not trigger it and cause a false alarm.

How do metal detectors work

Metal detectors work in such a way that it transfers electromagnetic fields from a search coil to the ground. When using a metal detector, if there is any metal object within its range, the electromagnetic field will be energized and transmit its own electromagnetic field. It uses a search coil to screen and the coil will get a retransmitted field which will alert the user that a metallic object has been found.

The two things that determine metal detectors concepts are:

Frequency: This is one of the main characteristics that determine target detection. A single frequency metal detector is usually very sensitive to small objects. What this means is that it will detect even the tiniest bit of metal. However, a detector with a single frequency that transmits with low frequencies will be able to target large objects.

Ground Balance: This is also another factor that determines the detection in the ground. Since the ground might contain different minerals, they respond to the detector differently. Mineralization of the ground can hide small objects. You can always change this under the ground balance metal detector settings.

What metals do airport metal detectors detect

The main purpose of a metal detector in an airport is mainly security. It is there to reveal anyone that might be carrying dangerous and harmful weapons. The metal detector can detect little metals like jewelry, chains, to huge ones like bombs, guns, and so on.

In addition to this, the airport metal detector can also detect implanted metals in the body. Certain implants such as plates, screws, joint replacements, and so on can set off an airport metal detector. If you have a prosthetic implant, a metal detector will detect it and you will be asked to step away for additional search. Further search might involve the use of a handheld metal device or undergoing a manual search. Furthermore, there are also certain current screening devices that will be able to detect implanted metals fast and prevent additional screening. If you have implanted prosthetics, you might consider revealing your scars to put an end to further screening. However, it is not necessary or required.

Airport metal detectors jewelry

Being held up at the airport because an object on your body set off the metal detector can be very annoying. There are so many female and male jewelry that might set off the metal detector. Jewelry that has magnetic metals, this might set off the metal detector. However other jewelry like silver and gold chains or rings cannot set it off. If you are not certain which is which, you might want to consider dropping the jewelry on your body inside the tray.

There are other things you might overlook that will set off the metal detector. The aluminum foil on a gist, sweet, or snack can set off the detector at the airport. You might consider dropping any aluminum foil wrapping you might be holding aside or inside the luggage. Another thing that might set off the explosive detector in the airport is moisturizing lotion. There are certain chemicals that it consists of which will raise alarm during screening.

Types of metal detectors

There are two different types of metal detectors are:

  • Walkthrough metal detectors
  • Handheld metal detectors

The walk through metal detectors is most of the airports that are usually found in big places like airports, government buildings, big corporations, schools, colleges, sports centers, and so on. Once this type of detector indicates finding a metallic object in a person’s body, the handheld will then be used by the security personnel to pinpoint the location of the concealed metal. However, this does not mean that there are no metal detectors that can point out the location of the metal on a person.

Unlike handheld detectors, the walkthrough is very easy and efficient to use. It is the best option when there are lots of people to screen. An effective metal detector in good condition can screen up to 60 people every minute while a handheld detector can only screen a few people per minute.


Finally, this post explained how the metal detectors in airport work. The detectors in the airport are there to increase security and keep people safe.

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