rapid prototyping polymagnets


Polymagnet: 3D Magnets Changing Engineering


Magnets have been a significant part of our childhood as they seemed magical with their attracting and repelling properties. These conventional magnets, however, have very limited usage as proved by Correlated Magnetic Research (CMR). This is a startup that has been working with some revolutionary magnets. The newest additions to their magnetic ensemble happen to be 3D printed magnetic fields that are customizable for any purpose. These Polymagnets can be used for the production of magnetic springs that seem to be floating midair due to equal attractive and repulsive forces or super tight magnetic twisting seals. Polymagnet is, therefore, a technology that can potentially change the face of engineering.


Correlated Magnetics Research or CMR has been doing research on magnets for many years now; however, their groundbreaking technology has only recently given them their limelight. Polymagnets are relatively new, hence the company is still in the process of finding out new applications and research opportunities with them. Larry Fullerton, the co-founder and Chief Scientist, has led this project with his fascination for magnets and expertise. In the lab, his team found a way to arrange magnets in different patterns in order to create magnetic fields that are more complex in nature. This would lead to these 3D printed and programmed magnets to be created. This unique technology has already received over a hundred patents out of which one of the more significant ones is magnetic shear force transfer device. This particular discovery has grown into the company’s first ever magnetizing 3D printer which can print magnetic fields on magnets! This very strange technique is accomplished with a Mini MagPrinter, touching the nature of magnets itself.


According to the engineering head of Polymagnets, Jason Morgan, these programming magnets are to function beyond regular magnets which have fixed north/south poles. Instead, these setups tend to lose energy through their great magnetic fields. What Polymagnets do is that they condense those fields on just one side of the magnet instead of both. Instead of having two separate poles, the north and south poles come together in the same face of the magnet. This produces a tight magnetic field instead of long fields that essentially waste energy. This tight field is better controlled and the force is focused very near to the magnet, Morgan explains.

What is more astounding is the fact that this mammoth task is accomplished with 3D printers with customizable patterns. The company explains that they have invented a brand new magnetizer that is software driven and opens up entirely new possibilities with magnetic systems. Instead of simple north and south polar arrangement, the magnetic patterns are designed in software and programmed into the new magnets in a matter of minutes, not days or weeks. These Polymagnets are covered with complex magnetic regions on one whole surface, hence are fundamentally different from traditional ones. The Mini MagPrinter then prints magnetic regions as arrays onto the magnetic material pieces in this situation. Hence, each Polymagnet acts like a system of smaller magnets complete with north and south poles printed onto them by the MagPrinter.


Also, conventional magnets can be turned into Polymagnets by placing them in the MagPrinter, picking their custom pattern from the Polymagnet Catalog and then reprogramming it to show a number of functions. This technology is good enough to be implemented onto the strongest magnets in the world, Neodymium magnets as well as ferrites, flexible magnets and other specialized ones like samarium cobalt magnets. This has enabled them to produce a technique that can make tailor made magnets for any function and of any size. Whatever magnetic field is required can be created on any magnet. How strongly the magnet is attached is determined through observing how magnets interact with their target materials. For each and every magnet, there is a custom magnetic field that can perform a certain task. Thus, they have the potential to change the fundamentals of engineering with magnets. CMR’s Polymagnet Catalog has various pre engineered designs that include strong holding magnets, magnet systems that latch, spring, align and release etc. With these basics acting as building blocks, any kind of magnet can be 3D printed. Hence, 3D printing is not just limited to rapid prototyping of materials; rather it can do amazing things with magnets as well.


According to the CEO and president of Correlated Magnetics Research, their technology has amazing potential in the 3D printing arena. Their newest desktop version of MagPrinter can work wonders for magnetic systems in the same way as 3D printing systems worked for rapid prototyping. By dint of this technology, researchers now have a powerful magnetic prototyping tool that programs magnets in a desktop based, affordable system. This can be used by both industrial engineers and consumers.


For Polymagnets, the possibilities and applications are limitless. With the more sophisticated magnetic patterns, Polymagnets have already proven themselves to function like magnetic springs, self aligning connectors and latches. They also happen to be 5X stronger than regular magnets due to their specially optimized magnetic fields. Also, they make sensitive electronic components less prone to damage. Making magnetic couplings, cabinet latches, power tool attachment systems, and other components can be imagined easily, while experts of robotics can definitely think of more ways to employ these magnets into more applications. Not only that, CMR announced their new product line launch last year which are called smart Polymagnet kits. These can be used for attaching keyboard, cellphone accessories and tablet covers with precision and ease. Builds that were previously considered impossible to make can now be re-evaluated through these one of a kind magnets.


CMR’s Mini MagPrinter could be the next big thing in the toys section to hit Makerspaces and Fablabs since traditional 3D printers that operate on desktop. However, the mini version has a price tag of $45,000. This too is a justifiable price considering that a batch of traditional, custom made magnets would cost a few thousand dollars as well. Therefore, Correlated Magnetic’s amazing technology will be limited mostly to universities and research facilities. Yet, makerspaces that are well funded could also give this a shot.





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