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Magnet history: who invented neodymium?

Neodymium is a type of permanent magnet that originates from the earth, and neodymium magnets are the world's strongest permanent magnets. You can certainly do some incredible things with electromagnetism, but when it comes to natural magnetism, neodymium magnets are often what you need to obtain powerful magnets. Here, you can learn more about the history of these strong magnets.

The history of neodymium

It surprises most people when they learn that neodymium magnets are a relatively recent invention. They are, in fact, about as old as hip-hop, CDs, and disposable cameras. For those too young to remember, we are talking about the 1980s; precisely, the 1980s.

However, the seed for it all was planted much earlier. We need to go back 100 years further: to 1885. The same year Karen Blixen was born, Dr. Emmett Brown was shot by Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, and the modern toothbrush was invented. What’s interesting in this context is that an Austrian chemist, Carl Auer von Welsbach, separated the substance didymium into two components: Praseodymium and Neodymium.

But such a discovery becomes truly significant only if it is left alone for nearly 100 years, without really doing anything with it. And that's exactly what happened...

When was neodymium invented?

Fast forward almost 100 years; specifically, to 1982, when a Japanese researcher, Sagawa Masato, invented a method based on powdered metal to produce the magnets. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, researchers at General Motors invented a method based on melted metal that achieved virtually the same thing.

So who was first?

As often happens in research, two parties reached the goal simultaneously but via different paths. Therefore, it’s difficult to credit one over the other.

Here is a small selection from our stock of neodymium magnets:


Vi er glade for hos Magnetz, at man ikke lod Carl Auer von Welsbach opdagelse ligge 100 år mere... for verden er bare mere spændende med stærke magneter. Og vi elsker vores arbejde! Men arbejdet er sjovest, når vi skal teste nye magnetprojekter, så tag endelig fat i os, hvis du går med en idé om noget, der skal gøres magnetisk eller som behøver en magnetisk feature af en slags for at blive mere unikt og brugervenligt.