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The Common Materials Used to Create Permanent Magnets

When creating permanent magnets, there are several different materials which are used on a regular basis, and that is because they have been proven to be successful in terms of effectiveness.

In order to create a high quality permanent magnetic, the material used needs to be able to produce a magnetic field which is high, but which also has a low enough mass to hold it steady, ensuring that any outside influences which are attempting to demagnetize the magnet, do not succeed.

Because of that, the most reliable materials to use should be reused time and time again, due to their reliability.

Some of the most common materials therefore include:

  • Ceramic8, also known as ferrite
  • Alnico5 and Alnico8, both cast materials
  • SmCo 16
  • SmCo 28
  • NdFeB31
  • NdFeB44

Whilst this sounds all very technical, the scientific names are really only a label for the effectiveness which these materials provide to a permanent magnet. These materials are chosen for their main characteristics, but overall, the following factors need to be considered when deciding on a material to use when creating a permanent magnet.

  • How the material holds the temperature – A material which allows temperature to dip and spike means that the magnetisation is never stable, and cannot be relied upon. For that reason, a material which has a steady temperature is always best.
  • The temperature range – We mentioned that a material needs to have a steady temperature, but every material is going to change slightly in terms of the environment around it. Each material will however have a range which is works within, and the smaller this range is, the better fit the material is for creating permanent magnets.
  • How resistant the material is to damage and corrosion – Because a magnet goes through a lot during its lifespan, the material needs to avoid being damaged too easily, with the most common form of damage being corrosion. A magnet can often be placed indoors or outdoors, and can be situated in a place where damp may play a part, or other forms of damage. For that reason, hardiness in terms of corrosion is vital.
  • How strong the material is – A permanent magnet should be made from a material which is hard, strong, and which isn’t particularly brittle. As with our previous point on corrosion, a permanent magnet needs to stand up to a lot of force, and for that reason, strength is imperative. If a material is too brittle, it is simply going to shatter, or fall apart.

To break it down to simpler terms, most magnets are made of either aluminium, nickel or cobalt, which are the materials which were more scientifically mentioned above. This materials tick all of the boxes we mentioned above, and help to conduct the magnet and create the magnetism that is required from the product.

These metal materials are all strong and long-lasting, whilst also being very resistant to corrosion and damage. The temperature of these materials are also low, and have a narrow range of degree in either direction. For this reason, the combination of these metals together makes for the perfect permanent magnet, and they continue to be the most common choices in the industry.

Of course, research continues into whether any other materials may be used in the future, but in terms of reliability, these choices will always have an element of the above metals. Permanent magnets need to be strong and durable, with a very low level of damage risk involved. When other materials are introduced, the unknown becomes a factor, explaining why it is better the devil you know in this case!