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TU Wien develops technique to 3D print magnets

Today it’s no big deal to manufacture very strong magnets. However, it is pretty difficult to create magnet with special forms. At the TU Wien researches have created a solution for this complex problem: They made it possible to 3D print permanent magnets.

Like other 3D printed objects the magnets are first designed with a computer program. In these early stages it is already possible to simulate how the magnet will act when it is finished. And that feature is very important because very often magnets with very special field lines are needed.

Oft benötigen wir spezielle Magnetfelder, deren Feldlinien auf ganz bestimmte Weise angeordnet sind – zum Beispiel ein Magnetfeld, das in einer Richtung ziemlich konstant ist, dessen Stärke sich aber entlang einer anderen Richtung stark verändert.

When the model is finished it is normally created with injection moulding, but that’s pretty expensive and it takes a lot of time to produce the special form that’s required for the process. For production where only a few parts are needed this technique is often too expensive. The researchers of TU Wien have developed a material that consists of 90% magnetic micro-granulate and 10% plastics. This material can be 3D printed similar to other filament and the designed object is printed point by point. After printing the filament is set into a very strong magnetic field that sets the object to the right magnetic properties.

The new method is faster and cheaper than injection moulding and it’s even possible to use different materials. So it should be possible to create transitions between strong and weak magnetic fields.