Are Rare Earth Magnets the Same as Neodymium Magnets?
What are Rare-earth Magnets?
Rare-earth magnets are becoming increasingly popular day after day. This surge in popularity can be attributed to their properties and applications. Rare-earth Magnets are made from alloys of rare-earth elements such as Neodymium (Nd), Yttrium (Y), Europium (Eu), Lanthanum (La), Ytterbium (Yb), Dysprosium (Dy), and Samarium (Sm), among others. By count, rare earth elements (REE) are about 15 in number on the periodic table of elements. They are grounded under the class of the Lanthanide series. They are usually mixed with some other elements to create rare earth magnets. For example, in producing neodymium-based permanent magnets, elements such as Neodymium, Iron, and Boron will be used (NdFeb is the chemical compound).
It’s believed that rare-earth magnets were first discovered in the early 1960s when US Air Force Materials Laboratory scientists realized that an alloy of Yttrium and Cobalt had powerful magnetic properties. This discovery then gave birth to the production of Neodymium magnets (NdFeB) by a Japanese scientist and chemist, Dr. Masato Sagawa.
In comparison, rare-earth magnets have been observed to perform better than ceramic magnets and alnico magnets. Their remanence exceeds 1.2 Tesla; therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as to why they are considered the strongest among the other types of permanent magnets. We are saying, in essence, that rare earth magnets are typically made with matters that will enhance their durability and increase their Magnetic field.
In terms of application, Rare-earth magnet is slowly becoming the top choice for most companies and industries that utilize magnets. They are used in various sectors and appliances, such as in the aviation industry (Space structures), medical equipment, commercial cars, hover-boards, household or DIY equipment, General indoor use, computer part (computer hard disk), Speakers, and microphones, among others.
Types of Rare-earth Magnets
Rare-earth magnets have two types, each of which differs in properties, magnetic field, and strength. They are:
Neodymium magnets (NdFeB): Neodymium Magnets are considered the world’s strongest and cheapest permanent magnets. As mentioned earlier, this type of Rare-earth magnet was discovered in the late 1980s by a Japanese Scientist and Chemist: Dr. Masato Sagawa. Neodymium magnet is produced using Neodymium (Nd) itself, Iron (Fe), and Boron (B). The magnet chemical compound is (NdFeB). The only downside of neodymium magnets is that they are prone to corrosion and may struggle to maintain stability when they exceed their working temperature.
Samarium Cobalt Magnets (SmCo): Samarium-cobalt magnets were developed in the early 1960s based on work by Karl Strnat at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Alden Ray at the University of Dayton. In particular, Strnat and Ray developed the first formulation of SmCo5. Although SmCo magnets are also based on rare earth elements, Neodymium magnets have a much stronger magnetic field –with the highest BH Max of any permanent magnet available today –and they are much more affordable than SmCo.
Due to neo magnets’ stronger magnetic field and lower prices, they are much more preferred than SmCo magnets which have the same level of performance but cost a lot more. SmCo magnets are not suitable for bulk production in manufacturing. They would quickly increase the production costs and make the end product expensive.
Applications of Rare Earth Neodymium
Neodymium magnets are now being used in various devices and machinery, such as in:
- Magnetic separators.
- They function as magnetic Starter in DC motors.
- In Microphones, speakers, and other sound equipment
- Computer components such as hard disks and printers.
- Medical equipment
- Mobile phones and other electronic gadgets, e.g., iPhone.
Samarium Cobalt magnets(SmCo): These rare-earth magnets are not as strong as neodymium magnets. Users should handle them carefully to prevent them from breaking apart during the application. Just as the name implies, samarium combat magnets are made from alloys of samarium, cobalt, and in some grades, Iron.
What are Rare-earth Metals?
Also known as Rare-earth elements, rare earth metals are just like the name implies – they are rare. However, note that they are not called “rare” because of their scarcity but rather because of how dispersed they are. Unlike every other matter on earth, rare earth metals are not found concentrated in a single place. They are dispersed, and this dispersal is why they are difficult to mine.
Altogether, Rare Earths Metals are 15 in number and are grouped under the Lanthanide series on the periodic table. Rare earth metals are categorized into both light and heavy elements. The former is from lanthanum to samarium and the latter from europium to lutetium. Heavy elements are considered expensive and probably the rarest out of the lots.
Rare earth metals are mostly famed for their ability to display high melting and boiling points. They are powerful reducing agents. When in metallic form, they tend to be soft, although the atomic numbers of each element often regulate this form (hard and soft). Identifying Rare-earth metals is very easy. All you have to do is place them under ultraviolet light. If an element displays a fluorescent color, it is a rare earth compound.
Rare earth elements, particularly samarium and neodymium, are used to produce the permanent magnet when mixed with other elements. Also, hydrogen gas will be made when you combine them with water or diluted acid.
Types of Rare-earth Metals
As previously mentioned, Rare-earth metals are grouped under the lanthanide series on the periodic table. They are 15 in number, including Samarium, Neodymium, Europium, Promethium, Praseodymium, Cerium, Lanthanum, Gadolinium, Erbium, Terbium, Holmium, Dysprosium, Lutetium, Thulium, and Ytterbium. Yttrium is not under the Lanthanide series but is also considered a rare earth element.
Uses of Rare-earth Metals
Since their discovery, Rare earth matters have been used in various industries and sectors. For example, they are used in the production of household electronics, clean energy, aerospace Structures, magnets, motor starters, weapons, and many other products.
Going by market research done in 2020, it is estimated that permanent magnets account for 29% of the use of rare earth metals.
Where are Rare-earth Metals Mined?
As stated earlier, rare earth metals are not found in isolation. They are usually alongside other elements in a single rock, requiring separation before the processing. Rare-earth metals are found worldwide, mainly in China, the United States, Russia, Canada, India, South Africa, and Australia.
However, China is leading the production of rare earth elements. As of 2021, reports on the internet estimated that the country mines about 150,000 tons of rare earth elements annually, and a further 44 million tons of rare earth elements are still in reserve.
Which Country Has the Most Rare-earth Metals?
As of 2022, China remains the country with the most Rare-earth metals. They have about 44 million rare earth metals in reserve, making them the world’s highest supplier of rare earth elements. In short, China’s rare earth deposits account for about 80 percent of the rare earth mined worldwide.
In second place is Vietnam, while Brazil occupies the third position. Although the two countries don’t produce that many tons of rare earth metals per year, their reserve is surprisingly more than others.
Which Rare-earth Metals are in China?
China is home to some (if not all) of the rare earth metals in the world. There is a reason why they have the most significant rare earth metals reserve in the world, plus they mine about 150,000 tons of rare earth elements per year. The most common rare earth metal in China are neodymium and Praseodymium. Chinese cities such as Sichuan, Guangxi, Shandong, Jiangxi, Inner Mongolia, Guangdong, Fujian, and Hunan are some popular places where professionals mine rare earth metals.
Are Rare-earth Magnets Illegal?
Buying and using Rare earth magnets has not been outlawed anywhere. Although, The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) previously banned this magnet sometime around 2014 because there were reports that kids often swallow them.
When multiple permanent magnets are swallowed, it could cause the intestine to pull together and perforate the intestinal walls. Usually, emergency surgery is always the last resort because you obviously can’t vomit magnet.
However, this rare earth magnet ban was repelled in 2016
What is the Best Rare-earth Magnet Available?
Neodymium magnets are the best rare earth magnets.
In recent years, Neodymium magnets (NdFeb or Neo Magnet) are becoming increasingly popular simply because of their properties and versatility. Neodymium magnet is regarded as the strongest magnet out there, enough reason why many top industries are utilizing this type of magnet. Neodymium magnets are durable, have a strong magnetic field, and are affordable.
Now that you know everything there is to know about rare earth metals and magnets, their properties, and their applications. Then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you as to why they are the top choice for every tech industry. Aside from the fact that rare earth metals and magnets are game changers for the tech industries, we cannot sidestep their positive effects on a nation’s economy.
Where to Get High-Quality Neodymium Magnets in Bulk?
Whether you need a magnet with a high gauss rating or one with an exceptional pull strength, you can count on ROBO Magnetic to help you design, manufacture, and supply neodymium magnets that you require for your application. We have provided a wide range of neodymium magnets for the past sixteen years, from the N30 to the N52.
Our professionals are experts in the field of magnetism, applying the best practices and using state-of-the-art technology to improve the manufacturing process of our neodymium magnets. ROBO Magnetic is one of China’s biggest neodymium magnet manufacturers and suppliers, shipping an estimated 800 tons of neodymium magnets yearly. Whether you need standard or custom-shaped magnets, we can help you. Contact us today for the best customer service.
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