Rare Earth Magnets: What Isn’t in a Name

What makes rare earth magnets so rare?  Well nothing really.  It’s the history behind discovery of the rare earth elements that generated the name and two factors are thought to have contributed to this misnomer.

When rare earth elements (REE) were discovered, they were originally thought to be scarce because they are not located in concentrated pockets like other elements – hence the term rare earth.  Fast forward a few decades it’s clear these elements are indeed plentiful, just not often found in concentrations able to be mined economically.  However, last year alone 124,000 tons of REEs were mined, with another 130 million in reserve worldwide*.Rare Earth Elements aren't all that rare

Another reason for the moniker is the perceived difficulty in separating the desired element from the mined ore.  Initial methods of isolating REEs from other minerals frustrated chemists.  While we have a better understand of how to process REEs, mining and processing of REEs can be costly and complicated.

There are 17 rare earth elements, including the 15 elements in lanthanide series and two other elements (Yttrium and Scandium because they are often found with the lanthanides in nature).   Even the least abundant of the REE, thulium, is found with 200 times more abundancy than gold. By contrast, neodymium is nearly as common as tin or zinc.

Found in the Earth’s crust and located in nearly every content and 79 countries, rare earth elements have been actively mined since the 1950s.  But with the recent explosion in demand in the last 20 years, Asia has largely dominated the mining of REEs.  Currently, China is responsible for 95 percent of the production of rare earth materials and more than 35 percent of this is magnetic material.


Value in Rare Earth Magnets

Neodymium magnets are rare earth magnetsREEs are valued for their strength, luminescence and – of course- magnetic properties.  The two most common rare earth elements in the magnetic industry are neodymium and samarium.  The term rare earth magnets refers to two types of magnets: neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) and samarium cobalt (SmCo) magnets.  Although, many people use neodymium and rare earth to mean the same thing.  Each type of rare earth magnet has a slightly different attributes, making them suitable for different applications.

In particular, rare earth magnets are touted for their unique strength.  Rare earth magnets were patented by companies looking for a stronger magnetic materials.  Samarium cobalt was first patented by the U.S. Materials Laboratory in 1966 and another in 1972 by Raytheon.   Neodymium magnets were patented in 1983 by General Motors, and it didn’t take long for the rest of the industry to see the value in rare earth magnets.  With their superior strength, the applications are endless.


Rare Earth Magnets All Around Us

Today, nearly everything we turn on uses a rare earth magnet.  Cell phones, laptops, tablets and other electronic devices use rare earth magnets.  Rare earth magnets were one factor that allowed manufactures to develop smaller and smaller devices.

Electric and hybrid cars rely on batteries from rare earth compounds.  And industries from manufacturing to medical to environmental also turned to rare earth magnets for their size, strength and reliability.  Manufacturers use rare earth magnets in the manufacturing process for separation, and lifting.

Other common uses include:

  • Audio speakers and headphones
  • Computer disc drives
  • DC motors
  • Fishing reel brakes
  • Guitar pickups
  • Hand tools
  • Linear actuators
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices)
  • Satellite systems
  • Servo motors
  • Traveling wave tubes



Additional References:

* http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/rare_earths/






Temperature and Magnetism: Knowing Your Operating Temperature Matters

Selecting a magnet involves many factors, not the least of which is the temperature at which it will be used.  Understanding the relationship between temperature and magnetism for each type of magnet helps ensure the correct magnet for high heat application is selected.Image illustrating how temperature and magnetism are related

When discussing temperature and magnetism, there are two ranges to be aware of: the Maximum Operating Temperature and the Curie Temperature. These are different for each magnet material, as well as the size and shape of a magnet.

The Maximum Operating Temperature refers to the temperature at which a magnet begins to lose its strength if further heated. This loss of strength may only be minimal, less than 10 percent, when the magnet returns to an ambient temperature.  This is referred to as reversible demagnetization.

The Curie Temperature pertains to the temperature at which a magnet loses all its magnetization.  It’s at this temperature that a magnet has irreversible loss. That means it will have little strength left, but could in theory be remagnetized. Permanent losses occur at very high temperatures and the material structure is typically altered.

Magnet Type Maximum Operating Temperature Curie Temperature

Grade 35, 38, 40, 42, 45, 48, 52

Grade 30H


176 F



593.6 F

626 F

Samarium Cobalt

Grade 18, 20

Grade 24,26


482 F

572 F


1382 F

1517 F


Grade 5 (cast/sintered)

Grade 8 (cast/sintered)


975 F

1020 F


1580 F

1508 F


Grade 1, 5, 8


400 F


842 F

Flexible 212 F

Each magnetic material has different characteristics and their maximum operating temperatures and curie temperatures are an excellent example of those differences.

Determining the best magnet for your high-heat application involves more than just a table or chart.  Taking into consideration what type of material the magnet is attached to (another magnet, a steel plate or housing), the length of time magnet heated (is it flash heated or baked), and temperature cycling.  When it comes to temperature and magnetism, all of these factors influence the type of magnet selected for high heat application.

Each magnet has its own temperature specifications.  For specific information on Maximum Operating Temperature and Curie Temperature for a specific magnet and your unique application, please contact our sales staff.


Unique Magnetic P.O.P. Displays

If P.O.P. magnets conjure up images of white magnetic hooks holding ceiling signs or basic sign holding bases, you aren’t alone.  While those are the work horses of the P.O.P. magnetic industry, we found some more unique magnetic P.O.P. displays that cast magnetic displays in a more exciting light.

Get your creative juices flowing with these examples:


Magnetic Suspension

If you’ve walked into a sporting goods store, then you’ve seen racks of oddly shaped items precariously stacked or haphazardly stored. One athletic equipment manufacturer created a unique magnetic P.O.P. display to feature its product by suspending it magnetically.   In this case, the top of the display holds a small magnet.  It attracts a metal ball which simply snaps into the top of the hockey stick.  Customers and staff simply pull the stick away from the magnet to get a better look at the product.



Match the Retailer’s Brand

Unique magnetic P.O.P displays used to display knives

It’s likely you’ve seen knife and tool holders, but maybe not as a product display.  For this retailer of high-end chef products, displaying knives on a magnetic tool holder made sense, but the traditional metal look didn’t quite match up with the retailer’s image.  So they took the concept one step further by creating their own magnetic knife holders by wrapping magnet blocks in fabric and mounting them to a display case.  The end result is an attractive merchandise display that accurately conveys the atmosphere of the store.



 Easy Accessibility Using magnets creatively in a POP display

Of course, providing customers with the ability to sample or test products is an excellent way to increase sales.  Some products can be challenging to present to customers in a visually appealing manner, while keeping the product accessible.  This prominent personal product retailer incorporates magnets embedded in their samplers.  The result is a clean, simple display that lets customers touch and smell their product.  As an added bonus, testers are easily returned to their original locations keeping the display looking as beautiful as it smells.



In all these examples, there are two repeating themes.  First, simplicity.  Magnets are inherently simple to use, so both customers and staff understand how to work the display.  No instructions, manuals or training are needed.  Second, visual appeal.  Magnets allow designers to match store décor and corporate branding. If you can’t see the magnet, well that just might be the point. Because the magnet can be hidden, the display isn’t the focus and can almost disappear.  The emphasis stays on the product.


Once you start looking, unique magnetic P.O.P. displays and merchandising pop up in surprisingly creative places.  Where have you seen one lately?

How to Separate Magnets

One of the most fascinating things about magnets is their incredible strength.  It can also be the source of frustration for anyone who has ever gotten their magnets stuck together.  Of course large magnets for tool holding appear strong, but even small rare earth magnets can prove surprisingly difficult to separate.  How to separate magnets depends largely on the strength of the magnet.


Separating magnets relies on a few simple principles – create an air gap and slide don’t pull.  Often our neodymium magnets come with a plastic or heavy cardboard spacer between them.  It’s helpful to keep these for future storage.  As a rule of thumb, the stronger the magnet, the thicker the spacer should be.  Spacers simply provide a non-attracting surface for the magnets making it easy to pull them apart.

Separate magnets with neodymium magnets with spacers

Neodymium magnets often have plastic spacers, like this, to help the magnets easily slide apart.


The Slide

The easiest method to separating magnets is to slide them apart. When separating magnets keep in mind shear force.  Magnets are measured on pull strength, so are up to five times easier to move if they are pushed apart instead of pulled apart.  Small magnets slide relatively easily, even without spacers.  Use two hands for slightly larger magnets or magnets without spacers.



The Edge

Separating magnets on the edge of desk

Push strong magnets apart using the edge of a table or desk.

Stronger magnets need a little leverage to introduce a gap. Utilize the edge of table or desk by positioning the magnets where they are joined and then carefully pushing the magnets apart.  Be sure to quickly separate the magnets and store far enough away from each other to prevent jumping and avoid pinching fingers.





The Wedge

Some magnets are very difficult and dangerous to separate.  In order to separate magnets with a very strong pull strength, users often make non-magnetic aides to wedge and pry stuck magnets apart.   Wooden jigs or wedges are the most common and useful tool.  They are easily made and customized to the exact size needed.  In most cases, separating magnets with a wedge takes two people.  It’s the safest way to ensure the magnets don’t jump back at each other.


When separating magnets of any size, take care to avoid pinching, smashing or crushing fingers. We recommend wearing gloves and safety glasses.  Magnets are brittle and chip easily.  If they accidentally snap together, it is common for them chip or even shatter.  And of course, once separated, store separately.

Do you have tip on how to separate magnets? Share it with us in the comments below and help someone out of a sticky situation!

Getting Organized with Magnetic Tool Holders

Got the urge to organize? Get a handle on your clutter? Reign in the chaos?  If this is your mission, one creative way master the mess is to organize with magnetic tool holders.

Image of getting organized with magnetic tool holders and gardening toolsIf magnetic tool holders conjure up images of screwdrivers hanging on a strip above a workbench, you’re not wrong.  That’s a great place to start.  After all 40 years ago, magnetic tool holders were the first product Master Magnetics manufactured.  Garages and workbenches all around North America have gained order and tidiness from these 13 and 24 inch strips of magnetic organization.

And they are pretty handy at organizing screwdrivers, wrenches and other small hand tools.  But with 20 pounds of pull per inch, they can easily handle other heavier, larger garden items like shovels, picks and hoes. Putting away tools has never been so fast.


Not Just For Organizing Tools


Thinking beyond the garage, magnetic tool holders can be useful items in the indoor organizational struggle.  When taken into the kitchen, magnetic tool holders can easily keep knives and other utensils at hands’ reach.  Or use them to store spices when cabinet and counter space is minimal.  Simply hang on the side of the refrigerator, under the cabinet or inside a cabinet door and attach spices using metal canisters.  Magnetic mount versions of the tool holder easily attach to any metal surface without tools.


Ever creative, crafters can creatively organize with magnetic tool holders and help corral those small items and embellishments that seem to pile up everywhere in a crafters space.  By using tins, metal containers and jars with metal lids as small, uniform storage areas they easily attach to magnetic holders.  As a bonus, install the tool holder where it will be seen, allowing items to be used. And it keeps them off of valuable table space.


Image of custom magnetic tool holder

Photo from the Family Handyman.com

In the bathroom, where counter space is at a premium and clutter is seems to multiply like bunnies, mount the small, five inch magnetic tool holder inside a cabinet door to hold those little items like bobby pins, nail clippers, tweezers, and other metal items.  For tiny vanities with next no counter space, the Family Handyman share a tutorial on how to make a custom magnetic holder with Corian and neodymium magnets designed to keep electric toothbrushes stored neatly off the counter.


Find our magnetic tool holders in hardware and home improvement stores across North America.  With eight different traditional styles, there is sure to be one perfect to help organize your project. If you are still unsure which to choose, please contact us for more information!

Shipping Magnets: Understanding the Rules

Shipping magnets safely might be a little more complicated than you realize.  In today’s age of instant gratification, there are still a few times that our products just can’t be shipped by air for overnight delivery. Graphic image of shipping magnets by air

Because of their ability to interfere with the navigation and electronic equipment on planes, many industrial magnets, magnetic assemblies and strong rare earth magnets cannot be shipped via air.

Whenever possible we prefer to ship magnets by ground transportation, because magnets shipped via air will be classified as Dangerous Goods if not properly packed to block their magnetism.  Additionally, many carriers will not accept magnets for air shipments.

There are few guidelines that dictate how magnets are packaged and what is deemed safe to ship by air.

The Rules for Shipping Magnets

Magnets and magnetic devices can be shipped by air if the following criteria are met:

  • “For carriage by aircraft, any package which has a magnetic field of more than 0.00525 gauss measured at 4.5 m (15 feet) from any surface of the package.”  – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Dept. of Transportation (PHMSA) rule 173.21 (d). http://phmsa.dot.gov/hazmat
  • If the maximum field strength observed at 7 feet is less than .002 gauss, or there is no significant compass deflection, the package is not restricted as “Magnetized Material” per the FAA and the IATA .

Packing Magnets for Shipping

That can be a lot of magnetic field to block if you consider a magnet with 100 pounds of pull.  In some cases it can be accomplished by shielding the magnets with specially designed covers, by using padding or cardboard shredding, or by creating a steel lined box.  All of these take extra packing time and material, and add to the weight of the shipment.  Additional shipping fees will apply.

As expected, PHMSA and IATA also provide guidelines for packing magnets for air shipments.

  • IATA Packing Instruction 953 states “Magnetized material will be accepted only when:

(a) devices such as magnetrons and light meters have been packed so that the polarities of the individual units oppose one another;

(b) permanent magnets, where possible, have keeper bars installed;

(c) the magnetic field strength at a distance of 4.6 m (15 ft) from any point on the surface of the assembled consignment:

(1) does not exceed 0.418 A/m (0.00525 gauss), or

(2) produces a magnetic compass deflection of 2 degrees or less.

See Packing Instructions 953, IATA – http://www.iata.org/publications/dgr/Pages/index.aspx

  • The FAA and PHMSA both require training and ongoing documentation of training records for employees who package any dangerous goods articles.

Proper documentation and labeling must be provided for any shipment that will be classified as dangerous goods or magnetic materials.   We are experts in shipping magnets and will professionally handle the shipping process, including any documentation preparation.

However, if you plan to re-package or re-ship magnetic materials yourself, be aware that shipping magnets via air classifies them as Dangerous Goods.  As such, proper paperwork and labeling is required. Your carrier can provide you with these documents.

Shipping magnets probably isn’t something you’ve thought about, it’s okay, we do.   If you have questions about how your order will arrive, please contact our sales team for more information.


Additional Resources:



Top Three Magnetic Gifts for Father’s Day

If your dad doesn’t need (or want) another tie this Father’s Day, we have some suggestions for unique magnetic gifts for Dad that he is sure to use.  Here are our top three picks that make pretty great magnetic gifts for Father’s Day.


The Pop 'n Catch makes a great magnetic gifts for Father's Day.

 1. The Beer n’ Chill Dad – The Pop ‘n Catch is a clever magnetic bottle opener that lets Dad pop the top on his favorite bottle beverage and catch the cap in one single-handed action. It magnetically mounts for easy portability on any steel surface like grills, metal coolers, tailgates, and refrigerators. The Pop ‘n Catch is perfect for man caves, camping, tailgating, and parties.  Wrap one up with a six pack of his favorite beverage for a thoughtful gift sure to be enjoyed all year.


2. The Auto Lover  – Got a dad that loves to work on his car? This gift suggestion is actually two great picks- the magnetic parts tray and retrieving magnets; both are incrediblyA magnetic parts tray is useful magnetic gift for Father's day useful tools for car enthusiasts.  Our handy magnetic parts trays provide the perfect spot for corralling loose nuts, screws and other small metal items while keeping them securely in reach.  These smooth stainless steel trays have powerful magnetic bases which secure the tray to any metal surface while firmly holding important metal pieces in the tray – even upside down.   And the retrieving magnets easily rescue dropped screws and bolts from small spaces.   Add a few other necessities like leather wipes and car wash gift certificates and you’ve created a great car care gift kit.


Magnetic tool holders for Father's Day

3. The Handyman Organizer – For every dad who is DIYer or hobbyist, the magnetic tool holder makes a great addition to any workbench or hobby area. With 20 pounds of pull per square inch, these practical organizers keep Dad’s most used tools neatly organized and easily accessible.  Available in multiple styles and lengths, including magnetic mount styles perfect for attaching to the side of tool boxes, there sure to be a magnetic tool holder just perfect for Dad’s space.  This makes a great gift with a few new hand tools that Dad may have his eye on!


These magnetic gift ideas for Dad can be found at many local hardware and retail stores throughout North America.  Find our list of retailers here, or buy the Pop ‘n Catch online here.

Handle With Care: Tips for Magnet Safety

Tip for magnet safetyMagnets might appear small and shiny, but don’t under estimate their strength.  Just like most things there are some common sense guidelines for handling magnets.  These tips for magnet safety can help prevent personal injury and property damage.

  • Wear gloves and take care when handling magnets.  Pinching, snapping or crushing can easily occur when a finger is caught between two attracting magnets. Many of our magnets come with plastic spacers just for this reason.
  • Wear protective eye wear.  Magnets are very brittle and pieces can easily chip or shatter if they accidentally snap together, sending shards flying.
  • Magnets are not toys.  Do not give to children to play with.
  • Do not swallow magnets. They can do severe damage to internal organs, resulting in surgery or death.
  • Magnets can interfere with pacemakers and other medical devices such as magnetic ports.  Avoid wearing badge magnets, decorative magnetic clips or similar items near the device.
  • Many magnets are coated with nickel to prevent corrosion.  People with nickel allergies should avoid prolonged handling of these magnets.
  • Always properly store and label industrial magnets.  Their extreme strength poses an added risk to users who may be unaware of the magnet’s capabilities.
  • Always store magnets in “Off” position or with shields, if available.
  • Take care in placing electronics, such a cell phones, near magnets to avoid damage.  Older electronics including computer diskettes, audio/video cassettes, credit cards or other magnetically stored media and electronic equipment. Magnets can alter or erase the important information stored on these devices.
  • Magnets affect compasses and navigational equipment. For this reason, we do not recommend shipping most magnets by air – without being properly packed and shielded strong magnets are classified as dangerous good for air transportation.  Refer to our shipping magnets page for additional information.

While many of magnets with low pull strength may not pose the same danger that very strong rare earth magnets do, it’s always a good idea to treat magnets with respect.  Safety first!

Creative Magnetic Projects Perfect for Celebrating Mom

What mom doesn’t love a thoughtful, handmade gift? With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we have some quick and easy magnetic projects that mom will love receiving and displaying.


Sentiment Button Magnets

Picture of Sentiment Button Magnets one of three magnetic projects for Mother's Day

Making Sentiment Button Magnets is an easily customizable magnet project that kids can help with – from start to finish. First, gather all the needed supplies, including colored or patterned paper, clear glass flat pebbles, spray adhesive, and small round magnets. We used half-inch diameter ceramic disc magnets, which are readily available at most craft or hardware stores.

What You Need 2

It takes just a few items to make this special magnet project for Mother’s Day.


Using a nickel as a template, cut the paper to fill the back of the pebble (small pictures would work great for this too). Add any sentiment at this point.  Then spray the flat side of the pebble with the adhesive and apply the paper design side down. Glue the magnet in the center of the paper and viola – you have a customized set of sentiment magnets!


Decorative Magnetic Frame

Moms love to display pictures of their kids and this small, decorative frame featuring a favorite picture makes a lovely gift. This project only requires leftover scraps of paper, ribbon and a small flower embMother's Day magnetic projects includes photo frames like this oneellishment. We used a neodymium disc magnet with adhesive to finish off this magnetic project.


First we printed the photo and trimmed it to size (this one is two inches square). Next, we matted it on card stock and added a contrasting boarder. Washi tape would also work great for this step. A simple brad holds the flower embellishment. The ribbon finishes off the frame and also hides the magnet, which was applied on the back left corner. Neodymium discs with adhesive are very strong and will easily hold through the fabric (allow 24 hours for full cure time).



Reusable Magnetic Photo Pockets

If you have more digital photos than you know what to do with, then reusable magnetic photo pockets are a quick, clean way to display those cherished pictures. Simply print the images you want Mothers Day Photo Pockets together 2to display and slide into the open side of the pocket. It’s a great way to display photos, keep them protected and easily exchange pictures when needed.


Available in three sizes (3.5” x 5”, 4” x 6” and 8.5” x 11”) magnetic photo pockets are also a great way to display the latest artwork by a young Picasso. It makes a clean finished look for gifts that kids love to give to Mom.



You can find a wide selection of ceramic and neodymium magnets suitable for these magnetic projects at most local hardware or craft stores. If you’re looking for assistance with the best type of magnet for your project, our magnetic products specialists are available to assist.

Benefits of Magnetic Sign Holders for Merchandising

Creating the right retail environment involves taking into account every detail, including sign holders. The range of sign holders for merchandising can be overwhelming, and selecting the right sign holding system to best communicate sales and branding messaging is important to your overall retail environment. Magnetic sign holders provide many benefits from complimenting the décor to ease of simple installation. Photo of magnetic sign holders in front of a mannequin.

By definition, magnetic sign holders, frame holders, round base magnets, and hooks are repositionable sign holding systems, which are easily moved within a retail setting and not permanently attached to shelving or fixtures.

While that alone may sound attractive, here’s a few more benefits magnetic repositionable sign holders provide retailers.

  • Quick Change – Magnetic sign holders are repositionable and can easily be moved to a variety of locations within the store. Reorganizing aisles or placing new floor sets is as easy as picking up a sign holder and placing it in the new location – no tools required. In the case of some magnetic adjustable sign holders, accommodating a taller or shorter location is as simple as pushing a lever.
  • No Special Staff – Unlike certain systems that require outside design firms to install or change out heavy or unwieldy graphics, or even repair damage to walls or fixtures, magnetic sign holders can be set up and changed by the store’s own staff. Even when using magnetic hooks to hang signs from the ceiling, extender tools can be used to keep employees safely on the floor while changing out graphics.
  • Fits many environments – Magnetic sign holders come in such a wide range of sizes, styles and types that they can seamlessly compliment almost any retail décor. Repositionable sign holders have the advantage of accommodating seasonal decorating changes and branding updates; making the task easier and quicker for employees.
  • Cost effective – Available at a relatively low cost per unit, magnetic sign holders can be used over and over again. Reposition them where needed for maximum impact in the store. Simply change out graphics to reflect current sales, holiday promotions or new branding, and continue to utilize the existing sign holders. There is no additional investment in hardware.


Our knowledgeable magnetic solutions specialists can help you choose the right type of repositionable magnetic sign holders or frame holders for your P.O.P. or merchandising application. With over 80 different P.O.P. magnets, there is sure to be an option for your retail setting. Contact us for samples and solutions!