In terms of applications of permanent magnet materials, the automotive sector is the largest with 35%, followed by various types of loudspeakers and miniaturized electroacoustic devices with about 30%, and other areas including computer disk drives with 10%.
A modern luxury car requires roughly 15-70 pieces permanent magnet devices to perform various control actions. The rare-earth permanent magnet materials used here probably weighs about 0.5-3.5 kg. With the development of automobiles to be multi-functional and intelligent, the application of NdFeB permanent magnets in automobiles will become more and more extensive. According to relevant research reports, the consumption of NdFeB permanent magnet material for each hybrid car is about 2.5 kg; pure electric cars are 5 kg each.
And in March 2018, Tesla, the global leader in new energy vehicles, used permanent magnet motors in the Model 3 electric car. This means that rare-earth permanent magnet synchronous technology completely dominates the new energy vehicle market. Due to the initial saturation of the market for hard drives, optical drives, etc., the automotive market, especially new energy vehicles, is the main driver of the growth of NdFeB materials.
In addition, because of the rapid advance of automation and intelligence, robots and their servo motors will have a rapid growth. This will also drive an increase in NdFeB usage. There are some new areas, such as high-speed rail, electric cars, where more high-performance NdFeB magnets will be used.
Rising Labor Costs for China Magnet Industries
The magnet industry is labour-intensive. Manual work is high labor intensive and requires high physical and technical quality of employees.
Few in the younger generation are willing to do this work. The average age of workers in China magnet manufacturers is now mostly in the forties and fifties, which is already significantly older. Difficulties in recruitment are becoming more and more prominent.
Because of the shortage of workers, this also makes it much more difficult for magnet companies to manage these frontline workers. Also because of the physical strength, these old workers are more casual about the execution of technical processes, causing hidden problems to permanent magnet quality.
With the development of society, people’s living standard continue to improve, the retirement of the older generation of workers, labor resources will be more strained, magnet industry competition will be more intense. This traditional magnet manufacturing process is clearly not adapted to the survival and development of the magnet industry in today’s society.
The use of mechanical automation in production is therefore of far-reaching significance for both society and business. To this end, China Magnetic Source Materials has been automating many production processes in recent years, based on the actual production situation.
Automatic Equipments in Magnet Manufacturing
At present, we have international advanced permanent magnet production lines in magnet manufacturing, including vacuum induction casting furnace, continuous vacuum sintering furnace, automatic forming press, multi-line cutting machine, automatic testing equipment, automatic plating production line, etc.
Vacuum Induction Casting Furnace
It is a special melting equipment for the production of alloy flakes. In order to obtain high performance sintered NdFeB magnets, it is necessary to remove α-Fe, control the small and uniformity of the column crystal, improve the uniformity of the distribution of the Nd-rich phase, and reduce the low carbon oxygen content in the melting process.
Conventional ingot technology is difficult to control the crystal structure due to the long cooling time of the ingot after melting finished. Therefore, the crystal uniformity is low, the neodymium-rich phase is not uniformly distributed, and α-Fe can occur under poor control.
The Vacuum induction casting furnace uses copper wheel rapid condensation technology. The thin band thickness can be controlled in the range of 0.2~0.4mm, and the Nd-rich phase spacing can be distributed in the range of 4~10μm. The key technical indicators such as crystal structure and α-Fe content have been greatly improved. There are also advantages in terms of carbon and oxygen content control due to the higher melting efficiency.
At the same time, it can realize full automatic control, real-time monitoring, full touch screen working environment, simple operation.
Continuous Vacuum Sintering Furnace