3D printing miniature permanent magnets is now a reality


CATEGORY: New advances

This innovative production could be useful in the creation of electric motors for pacemakers


Scientists from the Ural Federal University and the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences are determining the optimal conditions for 3D printing permanent magnets from hard magnetic compounds based on unusual metals. This would make it possible to start small-scale production of magnets, shape them into any shape during manufacturing, and create complex configurations of magnets. Such magnets are suitable for miniature electric motors and electric generators, on which pacemakers work.


Photo: Oksana Meleshchuk


Furthermore, the technology minimizes production waste and has a shorter production cycle. A description of the method and the experimental results are presented in the Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials.


Creating small and complex magnets is not an easy scientific and technical task, but they are in demand in various specialized applications, mainly medical. One of the most promising ways to create complex shaped parts from magnetically hard materials is 3D printing.


Ural scientists managed to determine the optimal parameters for 3D printing of permanent magnets using the selective laser sintering method. This is an additive manufacturing method in which magnetic material in powder form is sintered layer by layer into a three-dimensional product of a given shape from a previously created 3D model.


This technology allows the internal properties of the magnet to be changed at almost every stage of production. For example, to change the chemical composition of the compound, the degree of spatial orientation of the crystallites and the crystallographic texture, and to influence the coercivity (resistance to demagnetization).


Scientists have now succeeded in producing thin permanent magnets, about one millimeter thick, whose properties are similar to those of industrially produced magnets. The base was a powder containing samarium, zirconium, iron, and titanium. The compound has characteristics suitable for permanent magnets, but traditional manufacturing methods deprive the compound of most of its properties.


Therefore, the scientists decided to see if the properties could be preserved with the new technology. At this time, scientists are establishing the basic laws of microstructure formation and magnetic properties of hard magnetic materials, and determining which magnetic materials can be used to make permanent magnets by laser sintering method. This includes testing how the sintering method affects the properties of another known base for magnets: an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron. The next stage of the work will be the production of bulk permanent magnets suitable for practical applications.


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