Permanent magnets are found in countless consumer and commercial products. You can find them in stereo speakers, computer monitors, data storage devices, medical equipment and more. Like all magnets, they produce a magnetic field. Permanent magnets, however, produce a permanent magnetic field, meaning their magnetic properties are fixed. Here are five facts about permanent magnets you need to know.
#1) Available in Different Materials
Permanent magnets are available in different materials. Some of the most basic permanent magnets are made of ceramic or ferrite. Other permanent magnets are made of samarium cobalt or neodymium. Those made of neodymium are known as rare-earth magnets. Originally pioneered in the 1970s, they are among the strongest magnets on the planet.
How strong are neodymium permanent magnets exactly? When compared to those made of ferrite, their magnetic field is over 10 times as strong. This is why so many commercial-use permanent magnets are made of neodymium.
#2) Magnetized Using Field Alignment
To make a permanent magnet, manufacturers may rely on field alignment. Field alignment is the process of aligning the microcrystalline structure of a permanent magnet. Alignment will charge the permanent magnet, thus allowing it to produce its own magnetic field. Man-made permanent magnets require a magnetization process such as field alignment.
#3) Rigid vs Flexible
There are both rigid and flexible permanent magnets available. Most permanent magnets fall under the former category. They feature a hard, rigid texture. Flexible permanent magnets, on the other hand, feature a softer and more flexible texture. You can bend flexible permanent magnets without breaking them. The same can’t be said for rigid permanent magnets.
#4) Affected By Extreme Temperatures
If you’re thinking about buying permanent magnets, you should keep them away from extreme heat. The ambient temperature around a permanent magnet may affect its magnetic field. Permanent magnets are characterized by their fixed magnetic field, but the strength of their magnetic field may change. Exposure to extreme heat, for instance, can weaken a permanent magnet. Exposure to extreme cold, conversely, can strengthen a permanent magnet.
#5) Not the Same as Temporary Magnets
Permanent magnets aren’t the same as temporary magnets. They both produce a magnetic field, but temporary magnets live up to their namesake by producing a temporary magnetic field. Temporary magnets must be exposed to a separate permanent magnet or an electric current. A common type of temporary magnet is an electromagnet. Electromagnets are exposed to an electrical current, which allows them to produce a magnetic field.