3D printing has given much joy in many sectors. Medicine, construction and leisure in general have benefited from the possibility of creating in a short time, and cheaply, personalized objects that until a few years ago were impossible to build.
Now the challenge is to be able to print with unique materials, not just plastic. We have already seen that materials can be used to build houses, or to create prosthetics, or even with organic tissue, but this is the first time that we have seen how magnets can be printed.
Physicists at the Ural Federal University in Russia have succeeded in printing magnetic systems and soft magnetic elements with a 3D printer. Samples made with this printer can be useful in almost any field, from medicine to space. For example, it can be used by robotic surgical assistants to unclog arteries and veins. Now scientists are deciding what type of magnets to start printing first.
They are magnets based on samarium or cobalt compounds that can be used from submarines to space stations or ships. That is, in those areas where there are very strong temperature changes and magnets with special properties in terms of stability are necessary.
Magnets based on an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron, which operate at normal temperatures, can also be printed. These magnets are used in smart phones, hard drives, and car engine sensors.
One of the goals is to create small magnets, and they do it thanks to a printer that can print from metallic powders, used in research and development organizations. They alter metal powders using selective laser melting and selective sintering technologies, also laser. In the first case, the powder particles are completely melted again, in the second, they slightly melt near the surface.
Although there is still time (probably years) for this technology to be affordable around the world, the power to create magnets of any size with any shape could revolutionize the world of engineering.