A research center in Spain has been working on ways to address recent supply chain issues. One of these problems is the shortage of materials to make magnets. Their response ? Recycle ferrite scrap by processing and mixing with ABS for 3D printing.
Mixing ferrite with a polymer is not the key though, but the trick is in the processing. The team collected scrap strontium ferrite and ground it into powder. Heating to the ignition point (approximately 1000°C) creates a superior material with a 350% increase in coercivity and a 25% increase in remanence over the original waste.
The material could simply be recycled conventionally, but the team created an ABS filament carrying the magnetic particles. The resulting prints retain their magnetic properties and enable the low temperature production of magnets in a variety of geometries. Additionally, the magnetic material is chemically inert, so applications that would need to coat a conventional magnet could benefit.
The researchers mention that ferrite magnets are more environmentally friendly than rare earth magnets. That may be true, but we think the properties of rare earth magnets will keep them in use, even if they are able to 3D print ferrite.
We’ve seen 3D printed magnets before, a few times in fact. We still don’t fully understand how they work.