What Are Neodymium Magnets?

Also known simply as a neo magnet, a neodymium magnet is a type of rare-earth magnet that’s comprised of neodymium, iron and boron. Although there are other rare-earth magnets — including samarium cobalt — neodymium is by far the most common. They create a stronger magnetic field, allowing for a superior level of performance. Even if you’ve heard of neodymium magnets, though, there are probably some things you don’t know about these popular rare-earth magnets.

Overview of Neodymium Magnets

Dubbed the world’s strongest permanent magnet, neodymium magnets are magnets made of neodymium. To put their strength into perspective, they can produce magnetic fields with up to 1.4 teslas. Neodymium, of course, is a rare-earth element featuring the atomic number 60. It was discovered in 1885 by chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach. With that said, it wasn’t until nearly a century later until neodymium magnets were invented.

The unparalleled strength of neodymium magnets makes them an excellent choice for a variety of commercial applications, some of which include the following:

  • Hard disk drives (HDDs) for computers
  • Door locks
  • Electric automotive engines
  • Electric generators
  • Voice coils
  • Cordless power tools
  • Power steering
  • Speakers and headphones
  • Retail decouplers

History of Neodymium Magnets

Neodymium magnets were invented in the early 1980s by General Motors and Sumitomo Special Metals. The companies discovered that by combining neodymium with small amounts of iron and boron, they were able to produce a powerful magnet. General Motors and Sumitomo Special Metals then released the world’s first neodymium magnets, offering a cost-effective alternative to other rare-earth magnets on the market.

Neodymium vs Ceramic Magnets

How do neodymium magnets compare to ceramic magnets exactly? Ceramic magnets are undoubtedly cheaper, making them a popular choice for consumer applications. For commercial applications, however, there’s no substitution for neodymium magnets. As previously mentioned, neodymium magnets can create magnetic fields with up to 1.4 teslas. In comparison, ceramic magnets generally produce magnetic fields with just 0.5 to 1 teslas.

Not only are neodymium magnets stronger, magnetically, than ceramic magnets; they are harder as well. Ceramic magnets are brittle, making them susceptible to damage. If you drop a ceramic magnet on the ground, there’s a good chance it will break. Neodymium magnets, on the other hand, are physically harder, so they are less likely to break when dropped or otherwise exposed to stress.

On the other hand, ceramic magnets are more resistant to corrosion than neodymium magnets. Even when exposed to humidity on a regular basis, ceramic magnets generally won’t corrode or rust.

See Monroe’s Neodymium Magnets.