Rare Earth Magnets are Used Everyday, But What Are They?
Neodymium Iron Boron Rare Earth Magnets are used everywhere and are one of the strongest permanent magnets available. But what exactly are they?
The Neodymium Magnet (also known as NdFeB, NIB or Neomagnet) is the most widely used type of Rare Earth Magnet. It is a permanent magnet which has been made from an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron to form the Nd2Fe14B tetragonal crystalline structure.
The first Neodymium Magnet was discovered in 1982 by General Motors and Sumitomo Special Metals as they investigated alternatives to the costly Samarium Cobalt Magnets. Since the discovery, the use of the Neodymium Magnet has touched everyone’s lives and can be found in items we use everyday like mobile phones, computers and even kitchen cupboard catches. They are also essential for renewable energy including wind turbines and electric cars.
Neodymium Magnets are also help us recycle as a fundamental part of a Magnetic Separator or Eddy Current Separator as manufactured by Bunting Magnetics. The magnetic forces are used to both attract and repel metals to enable separation and recovery.
China dominates the global production of Neodymium Magnets (95%) due to the location of many of the reserves. At the end of 2010 and into 2011, the Chinese Government sent shock waves around the world when they slashed export quotas for Rare Earth Magnets and dramatically increased prices for foreign customers. It wasn’t until 2015, after China lost a World Trade Organization case brought by the USA and other trading partners, that the restrictions relaxed.
Neodymium Magnets are produced using two manufacturing methods:
• Classical powder metallurgy or sintered magnet process;
• Rapid solidification or bonded magnet process;
The Sintered magnet process produces a stronger and robust Rare Earth Magnet, but is more expensive to manufacture.
There is a enormous range of sizes and shapes of Neodymium Magnets for a diverse number of applications that continues to grow. There is no slowdown in the demand and there is only a question of supply and the price in the longer term.
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