RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
2000 McCain Pkwy
Pelham, AL 35124
Material Research & Development
Our engineering staff, located in the US and overseas, is committed to developing new and improved materials to meet the demands of todays advanced technologies. Magnetic materials are being research constantly so they can work in higher temperatures, make motors more efficient, advance new communication technologies, allow for high tech medical devices, and many, many more applications.
The engineering staff has partnered with our customers in virtually every industry to understand their needs, develop solutions, and determine if advancements in hard and soft magnetic materials should be considered. While permanent magnets like neodymium (NdFeB) and samarium cobalt (SmCo) are the most widely used and manufactured at our factories, Metal Injection Molding (MIM) is an area in soft magnetics that our engineers find development opportunities. Permanent magnets have experienced development in higher coercivity materials, but soft magnetic materials, like Iron Chrome (FeCr) chemistries, can be developed even further to enhance the magnetic fields.
Magnetic material development by our research & development staff is evident in many products on the market today. New materials were developed to enhance and improve the sound quality in a wireless speaker, reduced the amount of higher priced rare earths while keeping the coercivity specifications the same, and developing better magnetic materials for EV motors. These are just some of the examples how our material research & development has changed the product development options for our customers.
Manufacturing Research & Development
One of the main areas of focus in the permanent magnet industry is in the development of new materials. However, manufacturing advancements are equally as important at all of our company-owned factories. Even small improvements can yield big results for our customer.
Below are examples of manufacturing methodologies that have implemented to benefit our customers.
- Reduced material waste with new cutting methods. This also reduced costs as yields increased and more parts were produced in a shorter timeframe.
- Installed solar energy for the highest energy-use manufacturing areas. The result was a dramatic savings in overall energy costs.
- Developed and built automated assembly lines for high volume consumer electronics products that can be quickly set-up, reconfigured, re-used, and capture real time data for continuous improvement programs.
- Reconfigured machinery capture areas to salvage swarf to be recycled. This allows for the recapture of rare earths such as neodymium, samarium cobalt, dysprosium, and terbium.
- Streamlined the automation of the metal injection molding (MIM) process so multiple machines can use the same robotics simultaneously. The increased throughput, reduced overhead, and reduced energy costs.
- Worked with our consumer electronics partner to develop and automate the packaging lines for micro parts. Quality control systems were included to ensure packaging was exact every time, breakage of parts was significantly decreased, shipping deadlines were met, and the parts arrived in packaging that the OEM used in their process.
- Through a change in the coating process, developed a manufacturing technique that was more robust for a motor that was exposed to saltwater for an extended period of time and the operating environment was harsh on the magnets and motor. This made the customer’s marine motor more durable and longer lasting.
- Developed a unique manufacturing technique to make an odd-shaped neodymium magnet used in a medical device that was used as a component that would remain in a patient’s body for a minimum of 2 weeks to aid in proper healing.
- Coordinated with a Top 10 College to make a complex shaped assembly used in particle acceleration. The assembly had to meet very strict tolerance within the complexity of the magnet and steel shapes, and also had to meet a tight magnetic field profile.
- Researched and profiled the surface degradation of very thin magnets though all parts of the process: cutting, grinding, tumbling, and plating.
Our customers have come to rely on our ingenuity, innovation, and pursuit of solutions related to manufacturing. We develop our own automation systems, make our own tooling, design in-line systems to capture and record quality data, and we never stop looking for better ways to manufacture.
Our mission in manufacturing and operations is to find ways to protect the environment, recycle materials, develop advanced manufacturing techniques, and use alternative energy.
Protecting the environment starts in-house with the employees. Each employee is asked to identify and use materials that are good for the environment. This includes personal use items and packaging materials. The manufacturing process is continually reviewed to determine where less energy, materials and efficiency can be identified.
Recycled Materials in the manufacturing process include rare earth materials that are recycled from end-of-life products, recaptured rare earths from swarf and sludge, and re-processing of metal injection molding (MIM) materials.
Advanced Manufacturing techniques have led to less waste, better yields, less energy use, and robotics that assists several processes. During automation processes in-line quality checks are completed to limit the movement of materials and make the process more efficient from beginning to end.
Alternative Energy is evident with the installation of solar at each of our company-owned factories. The use of solar energy has resulted in significant cuts in energy requirements from fossil fuels. We will continue to pursue alternative energy to provide the power needed in each stage of manufacturing.
Interested in SM Magnetics partnering with you on your next product? Or, do you need to redesign and rework an existing magnetic product? Contact us to discuss your requirements.