How were magnets invented

Miscellaneous and history about magnets

International competitive situation

Permanent magnets are manufactured in different regions of the world. While European and Japanese companies largely covered the world's magnetic demand up to the beginning of the 1990s, there has been a significant shift in the main production volumes towards the emerging countries of Asia (primarily China and India) in recent years. China has the world's largest deposits of rare earths, basic materials for the production of the modern, high-energy magnetic materials SmCo and NdFeB. This competitive advantage, combined with low wages and energy costs, has made China the largest manufacturer and exporter of permanent magnet products. Because of the significantly lower prices and the constantly improving quality of Chinese magnet products, European manufacturers have increasingly lost market share. It should be a question of time before the traditional magnet industries will disappear in the “old” industrialized countries.

About history

The Greeks were aware of the existence of magnetism as early as the 5th century BC. The name is derived from Greek mythology, which refers to the location of magnetic iron ore in the Thessalian city of Magnesia and the name of a Greek shepherd (magnet). The existence of magnetic needles was described in China in the 2nd century AD.

The first practical application of magnetism was probably in the form of the compass. But only the possibility of industrial production of magnetic materials helped magnetic technology to a rapid upswing. An important date for the range of applications we know today is the discovery of the relationship between magnetism and electricity by Hans Christian Örsted in 1820. As a result, it was possible to manufacture the first magnets (carbon steels) whose magnetic properties were adjusted by rolling processes. They were primarily used in electrical engineering such as dynamos or electric motors. At the beginning of this century, the research work of Curie, Longerin and Weiss laid the foundation for the development of new industrially usable materials. These could be referred to as permanent materials. As a result of this research work, the AlNiCo magnet (Al-Ni-Co-Fe) was created in 1932. This permanent magnetic material was characterized by a significantly increased energy density and higher magnetic stability. Hard ferrites subsequently represented a further development step with regard to increased coercive field strength and lower material prices. Since the 1960s, due to their very good price / performance ratio, they have represented the main volume of magnetic materials used. The performance potential of magnets increased by a factor of 10 within a very short time due to the development of new materials based on samarium-cobalt and neodymium-iron-boron. Nevertheless, constantly increasing demands are pushing for new developments. Further progress can be expected in the future.

You can find more information on the subject of magnets and magnetism on the following websites:

  • Free Encyclopedia Wikipedia (Magnet)
  • Free encyclopedia Wikipedia (magnetism)
  • Free encyclopedia Wikipedia (neodymium)
  • Electronics info - magnets, the mysterious power?
  • Magnetism for children
  • Teaching materials on the subject of magnetism
  • Magnets in medicine
  • Strongest magnet in the universe
  • Magnets - from the right course to looking into the brain

Price development of magnets
Price development neodymium (update 03/2013)

Price explosion for rare earths / neodymium

Since the end of 2010 there have been increased prices for this raw material, which is valuable for the magnet industry Neodymium recognizable. Due to the dimensions that emerged in the following months and especially in the summer of 2011, we felt it was our duty to inform our customers about these price changes.

If we receive news on this topic, we will inform our customers in good time. You can also find current information on price increases for the Neodymium magnets remove.

EarthMag GmbH
Sascha Schnelker (Management)