FREE SHIPPING U.S. >= $10 FREE SHIPPING ON ALL U.S. ORDERS OF $10 OR MORE
EASY RETURNS
SAME DAY SHIPPING
FREE SHIPPING ON ALL U.S. ORDERS OF $10 OR MORE
  • EASY RETURNS
  • SAME DAY SHIPPING
  • FREE U.S. SHIPPING $10+ FREE SHIPPING ON ALL U.S. ORDERS OF $10 OR MORE
  • EASY RETURNS
  • SAME DAY SHIPPING
* Customers must select the Standard Shipping option during checkout in order to receive Free Shipping. If you select Priority or Overnight Shipping additional charges will apply. Not valid on international shipments.

Suddenly, Magnets are Everywhere. What Happened?!

It all began rather quietly in 1984. Scientists working independently at General Motors and Sumitomo Special Metals discovered that when they combined the rare earth mineral neodymium together with iron and boron, they could create the world’s strongest permanent magnets: up to 10 times stronger than all other ceramic and alnico magnets available at that time. 

Since then, neodymium magnets, also known as NdFeB magnets, have become a critical component in all types of modern electronic devices, from electric motors of all sizes to cellphones, computers, MRI scanners, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and more.

 

Neodymium Magnets in Cell Phones

Cell phones, invented in 1973 and introduced in 1981, are now used by an estimated 7.2 billion people around the world. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), there were more than 8.58 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2022, compared to a global population of 7.95 billion people. What’s more, almost all Americans (97%) own a mobile phone. 
Man Using Cell Phone

That’s a lot of cell phones. And guess what? Neodymium magnets are a key part of every single cell phone and smartphone in use on the planet today. 

Working silently inside the phone shell, these tiny but very powerful magnets are commonly used in receivers, vibration mode motors, tactile feedback motors, speakers, and camera autofocus mechanisms. Some phones can have 14 tiny magnets or more inside of them.  

In addition, the latest MagSafe technology also utilizes a series of magnets integrated into the back of the smartphones called MagSafe magnets. These magnets create a secure and precise connection with compatible MagSafe accessories.

 

Computers, Smartphones, and Laptops

There are also an estimated two billion computers in use around the world. As of April 2024, 5.44 billion people worldwide used the internet, equivalent to 67.1 percent of the world's total population. 

Cellphones and Laptops

And just as in cell phones, permanent magnets are also essential components used in all types of computers and other electronic devices. In fact, all disk drives use the power of magnetism to work and store data.

The hard drive also has magnets enabling the motor to spin the disc and another magnet to control the position of the read heads. If your computer has a disc reader/writer, add four more magnets. In addition, almost all laptops (and flip phones) use magnets to sense when they are open or closed. 

Finally, all electronic devices require cooling fans to prevent overheating. Without these fans, the devices would overheat and malfunction or fail. The motors that drive the cooling fans depend on magnetic fields to generate the force needed to rotate the motor.

 

Hidden Magnets at Home

Before the middle of the 20th century, most people had only a few magnets in their homes. Today, that number is probably in the hundreds. 

For starters, refrigerator doors usually have magnets in the rubbery slip of the doors. This allows the refrigerator door to stick to the body of the refrigerator when it is shut. Then there are the refrigerator magnets holding up your notes and family pictures.

So, looking around the house, anywhere you have an electric motor, you have a magnet. In the kitchen, in addition to the fridge, you also have magnets in the ice dispenser, garbage disposal, trash compactor, blender, mixer, fridge fan, oven fan, ceiling fan, and even the spinning tray in the microwave. Plus, there’s the big magnet inside the microwave itself.   

Moving around the house, there are magnets in the fans in your bathrooms and in the blowers in your hairdryer. There may be magnets in your blinds, cabinet and door latches. 

 

Speakers, DVD Players, Appliances and More 

How many speakers are there in your home? Count them all and don’t forget your computers, radios, stereo systems, televisions, cell phones, and other smart devices. Count each earbud and any other sound-playing device you might have. There are neodymium magnets in all of them.

That’s because speakers need tiny neodymium magnets to function. Opposing forces between the magnetic fields in each speaker produce vibrations - and it is these vibrations that are the sounds we hear.

Also, while the popularity of VHS magnetic tape recordings has declined, the transition to DVDs and BluRay optical discs has only increased the use of neodymium magnets.   

The typical DVD player has quite a few of magnets inside, including a motor to spin the disc, a motor to open and close the disc tray, a motor to position the read head/laser, and even a fine electromagnetic control of the read head.  That's at least four magnets right there in one DVD player!

There are also magnets in the rotating parts of your washer and dryer. The pump in an aquarium has a magnet in it, too. 

If you have a garage door opener, that has a magnet in it. So does the garage door motor that opens and closes the garage door. 

What else? The lawnmower engine ignition sensor, the bicycle cyclometer, the pick-up tool and maybe other tools in your garage. Then there may also be magnets in your home holding things up, like magnetic hooks to hold up decorations, coats, aprons, or tools.

 

Magnets in Vehicles

All sorts of things are controlled by electric motors in cars, trucks, and other vehicles.  Every power window and tailgate has an electric motor in it. Every pump, windshield wiper, speaker, sensor, dvd/cd player, and even the power seats have magnets in their electric motors. Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, the number of magnets could number in the dozens.

Just as a reference, according to Statista, there were 283.4 million vehicles registered in the United States in 2022. The figures include passenger cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, and other vehicles. 

 

Healthcare, Renewable Energy, and Broadway Costumes

Of course, neodymium magnets are also used in MRI machines and diagnostic equipment. These magnets are also crucial in wind turbines and electric vehicle motors, contributing to the green energy transition. 

Plus, magnets are also used in numerous closure and attachment applications as well as industrial sensors, lifting equipment, and other manufacturing applications such as food and consumer product purity magnetic filter grates in the production of food, dog food, cosmetics, vitamins, and beverages. 

Last but not least, many of today's Broadway and other stage productions use magnets sewn into costumes for simpler and quicker wardrobe changes.  

So, as you can see, we’re virtually surrounded by neodymium magnets these days. And that’s a good thing, thanks to all of the high-tech, innovative, practical, helpful, and attractive things magnets can do for us. Imagine a day without your cell phone, car or computer, for example. We know, that’s not going to happen. 

 

If you’d like more information about rare earth neodymium magnets, please visit us online at totalElement.com. 

As one of the planet’s premier neodymium magnet distributors, we offer a wide variety of rare earth magnets in virtually all sizes, shapes, and strengths—all available with highly competitive pricing and backed by the most magnetic customer service in the business.


Related Articles

Neodymium Magnet Glossary
Welcome to our comprehensive glossary of neodymium magnets. As a leading supplier of high-quality magnets, we underst...
Read More
What to Look for When Choosing a Magnet Supplier
When it comes to sourcing magnets for your business or project, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer numb...
Read More
Top 10 Uses for Neodymium Magnets
As a leading magnet supplier, we often get questions about the practical uses of our products. Recognized for its sup...
Read More
Neodymium Magnets vs. Other Types of Magnets
Navigating the magnetic world can be a tricky affair, especially with a variety of options at your disposal. As a tru...
Read More
Understanding Magnetic Field Lines
Neodymium magnets are known for their superior strength and durability, a property enhanced by their unique magnetic ...
Read More
Neodymium Magnets and Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is fundamentally an alloy, a blend of metals, with the primary components being iron, chromium, and o...
Read More