Samarium cobalt magnets are available in two main variants with many subgrades in each. Samarium cobalt magnets produce energy ranging from 15MGOe up to 32MGOe. In comparison, the strongest commercially available magnets give a maximum energy product of 52MGOe.
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The two main groups of samarium cobalt magnets are known as Sm1Co5 and Sm2Co17 but commonly referred to as 1-5 and 2-17. The energy product range for the 1-5 series is 15 to 24 MGOe, with the 2-17 series falling between 22 and 32 MGOe.
Their greatest strength is not necessarily their magnetic strength, but their performance in high temperatures. While not as powerful as other rare-earth magnets such as neodymium magnets, they maintain their magnetism in temperatures much higher than the threshold for neodymium magnets, withstanding temperatures up to 350°C.
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Because of their thermal stability, they are the magnet of choice for many demanding applications such as motors and generators in the manufacturing, automotive and aerospace industries. Samarium cobalt magnets are also more resistant against corrosion and demagnetising forces than neodymium magnets because they contain little or no iron. However, like neodymium magnets, they are extremely hard and very brittle meaning they are prone to chipping and breaking if in direct impact with hard metals.
‘Pound-for-pound’ samarium cobalt magnets are the most expensive permanent magnets but because of their properties they are still widely used in many applications where size, performance and resistance to demagnetisation is all important.