3D Printing

3D Printing Magnets Standard (left) and correlated (right) magnets. The light green lines are pole boundaries visible thanks to a magnetic viewing film. (ifixit.com)

3D Printing Magnets

Most off the shelf magnets have a simple design and work with one side as the north pole and the opposite as the south pole. Programmed magnets or polymagnets on the other hand are customized structures of magnets that alternate polarity in a specific designed patter to achieve a desired behavior, by designing different magnetic fields on the same side is possible to achieve different mechanical performances as a latch or spring without requiring a physical spring or many movable parts.

Correlated magnets have the unique characteristic of having alternating North and South poles on one side, resulting in simultaneous attract and repel forces or event to attract or repel at a certain spatial orientation. Correlated magnets can usually be designed to interact only with other specific programmable magnets. Correlated magnets can even be programmed to attract and repel at the same time. Compared to conventional magnets, the correlated magnet provides five times stronger holding force (attraction force) and thus higher shear resistance.

There are four main functions that correlated magnets can achieve: align, attach,
latch, and spring. (ifixit.com)

Correlated Magnetics Research (CMR) was developed to pursue research and development of the programmable Magnets technology, CMR co-founder and Chief Scientist, Larry Fullerton, was inspired by youthful imagination to create a self-assembling toy to spark his grandchildren’s interest in math, science, and physics; Fullerton inspired by this idea experimented and finally created this programmable magnets, the idea is so unique that CMR has already filed over 100 patents.

One of their more promising developments are magnetic gears, where conventional gears use mating surfaces of mechanical interlocking teeth, magnetic gears employ alternating magnetic fields to transmit torque removing friction by contact; nevertheless, the achievable torque density of magnetic gears is indeed considerably lower than the one of their mechanical counterparts, although, on the plus side, they also do not suffer irreparable damage if their specified torque is exceeded.

The programmable magnetic gears developed by CMR may allow for smaller, more efficient
magnetic gears with higher torque density in the future (polymagnet.com)

The world first's 3D magnetizing printer was developed by CMR, which is called MagPrinter. This printer consists of a magnetizing coil in a cabinet with a motion-control system. A polymagnet can be easily made from reprogramming a conventional magnetic material in a few minutes.

The MagPrinter imprints Polymagnets in batch mode on a large, movable stage with maxel (magnetic pixels) sizes ranging from 1mm to 4mm. By overlapping maxels, the printer can produce very high-resolution patterns and even images embedded in the magnetic material itself. The MagPrinter produces Polymagnets on the strongest Neodymium magnets, flexible materials, ferrites and specialized materials such as Samarium Cobalt.

The Mini MagPrinter. Half the size of the original MagPrinter (polymagnet.com)

CMR Mini MagPrinter could be the most fantastic toy to hit Makerspaces since desktop 3D printers. The only downside is that even this mini version is still quite expensive at $45,000, but on the other hand, a batch of traditional made-to-order magnets cost will quickly elevate to thousands of dollars too. CMR’s technology will largely be limited to research institutes and universities, but well-funded makerspaces might also have a shot at it.

The Mini MagPrinter. will do for magnetics what 3D printing systems did for mechanical prototyping (polymagnet.com)

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