Researchers at TU Wien in Austria have developed a method of 3D printing strong magnetic objects in arbitrary shapes using 3D printing.
The problem they’re solving is quite interesting: up to now it’s been very possible to manufacture powerful magnets, but the shapes have been constrained. This greatly limits their applicability in manufactured products, which of late have been diminishing in size and requiring components to fit within rather unusual cavities.
The researchers created a special type of 3D printer filament composed mostly of commercially available isotropic NdFeB powder, a powerful rare-earth magnetic material, with some standard 3D printing polymers.
The resulting filament was able to be 3D printed and formed into arbitrary complex shapes. These, say the researchers, could be used in the sensor and electric drive industries.
This is quite different from typical magnets, which are produced using injection molding or sintering, where object geometries are limited.
I’m interested to see how product manufacturers will take advantage of this new capability.