Neodymium (also known as rare Earth) magnets have become increasingly popular in recent years, both for recreational and commercial purposes. Although small in size, they offer an exceptional level of strength that’s not found in traditional ceramic magnets. Neodymium magnets are often used in kids’ toys, as well as commercial-grade equipment and supplies. So, what’s the difference between them and ceramic magnets?
Magnets: the Basics
As you may already know, a magnet is essentially an object which generates a magnetic field. This field allows the magnet to attract various metals through the air. Magnets can occur naturally in nature, or they can be artificially made by man. While there are several different types of magnets — both natural and artificial — the two most popular man-made magnets include ceramic and neodymium
Both ceramic and neodymium magnets are considered to be “permanent” magnets, meaning they will sustain a magnetic field for years unless damaged or otherwise broken. With that said, however, neodymium is significantly stronger than its ceramic counterpart.
Ceramic magnets have long been the preferred choice among manufacturers. In the early 1950s, researchers began experimenting with the use of ceramic materials to create magnets. This spawned the first generation of artificial, man-made magnets, allowing manufacturers to create magnets in all different shapes and sizes. Mixtures of ceramic materials were poured into molds to form these inexpensive yet effective magnet. In addition to ceramic, magnets were also made of strontium and barium ferrite.
On the other side of the fence is neodymium magnets, which is one of the two different types of rare Earth magnets. Originally developed in the 1970s, they are significantly stronger than ceramic magnets, allowing for a wide variety of uses and applications. But there are other reasons to choose neodymium over ceramic, including its increased resistance to thermal stress, and greater durability.
Keep in mind, however, that ceramic magnets still offer some of their own benefits, including ease of magnetization. Because they are easier to magnetize (create), you can expect ceramic magnets to cost less than their neodymium counterpart. Furthermore, ceramic magnets offer a high level of resistance against corrosion, eliminating the need for a second or third layer of coating for protection.