The ability to create a part in nearly any shape while reducing material waste were two of the reasons engineers at Magnet Applications, Inc., a Bunting Magnetics Co., experimented with 3D printing magnets. And they succeeded. Using a novel method with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM system), they were able to 3D print neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) magnets.
Magnet Applications, Inc., is a North American manufacturer of compression bonded magnets and manufacturer of injection molded magnets, hybrid magnets and magnetic assemblies. The ability to add to 3D printing magnets to its capabilities fills out its product offerings.
Engineers from Magnet Applications, working with researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, proved that permanent magnets produced by additive manufacturing outperform bonded magnets using traditional methods with less waste.
The engineers used composite pellets with 65 volume percent isotropic NdFeB powder and 35 percent polyamide nylon-12 binder in a precise ratio, blended to a consistent texture. The 3D printing was performed at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee with the BAAM system. The complete study is published in Scientific Reports.
NdFeB magnets are the most powerful on earth and used in everything from robotics, wind turbines, electric vehicles, cell phones, electric motors and other consumer and industrial equipment.
“With rapidly advancing technologies, the ability to manufacture the strongest magnet available in any shape without tooling, in any quantity, unleashes so many design opportunities,” said Dr. John Ormerod, Senior Technical Advisor, Magnet Application, Inc. “The work demonstrates the potential of additive manufacturing to be applied to wide range of magnetic materials and assemblies.”
With control over the size and shape of the magnet – as well as the magnetic field – further research will include printing magnets in various strengths with preferred direction of magnetization.
Contributing to the project were Ling Li, Angelica Tirado, Orlando Rios, Brian Post, Vlastimil Kunc, R. R. Lowden, Edgar Lara-Curzio at ORNL, as well as researchers I. C. Nlebedim and Thomas Lograsso working with CMI at Ames Laboratory. Robert Fredette and John Ormerod from Magnet Applications Inc. (MAI) contributed to the project through an MDF technology collaboration. The DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office provides support for ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, a public-private partnership to engage industry with national labs.
Magnet Applications, a Bunting Magnetics Co.