A Perspective of Rare Earth Magnets

As far as human knowledge goes, this planet, Earth, is the only place in the whole universe with life in it. Comparatively this planet is but a speck of dust in contrast to other heavenly bodies or the space between them.

Still this blue-green globe contains all the necessary substances and infrastructures to support such flourishing and varied life forms as are found all over the planet.

It is our one and only home. It is a definitive Pandora’s Box, concealing riches which have enabled mankind to reach such mammoth proportions of progress in everyday life.  Up until the 18th century man lived in basically a crude way by modern standards.

With the advent of the Industrial age, human population began to grow exponentially and hence man had to produce or manufacture goods on a very large scale and very fast. Thus the Earth’s natural resources were called into action to supply the materials for building the cities and factories.

The Pandora’s Box had been opened and it showered man with riches. Oil, coal, minerals, expensive stones and metals: everything the Earth could give up was used to alleviate man’s living standard. One such gift is rare earth magnets.

Alloys of rare earth metals like neodymium and samarium are forged into permanent magnets. These are called rare earth magnets. They were first developed in the 1970’s and are comparatively much stronger than ferrite or alnico magnets. They are very brittle and also corrode easily. Hence they are mostly plated to protect from damage.

The name can be particularly misleading as these magnets are anything but rare. In fact they are almost as abundant as lead or tin and are used in almost every aspect of day to day life. Because of their small size they are very easy to use in various forms and application fields. The property that sets them apart is their high anisotropy which produces a small but very strong magnetic field which can be used in a wide range from military weaponry to mechanical wok-out devices.

Care for Rare Earth Magnets

As with all other things of benefit, rare earth magnets come with a catch. Rare earth magnets exert a greater force than normal and hence entail more usage hazards. A body part pinched between two pieces of such a magnet and may even cause broken bones.

There have been extreme cases where children who have swallowed such a magnet have had a folded digestive tract pinched between very small chips of the magnet.  They can be extremely damaging to magnetic media like hard drives and credit cards.

To all intents and purposes they should be kept away from any living body and handled with care.