What are the Different Types of Magnets?

 In Magnets, Types of Magnets

A magnet is a material or object that generates a magnetic field. Magnetic fields are invisible force-fields that either pull or repel other ferromagnetic materials such as nickel, iron and steel. Magnets are made from different materials, have different strengths and uses.

Different Types of Magnets

There are three main types of magnets: permanent, temporary and electromagnets.

Permanent Magnets

Once magnetized, permanent magnets stay magnetized. They are able to retain their magnetism without an external source of magnetism or electrical power. There are four main types of permanent magnets: Neodymium, samarium cobalt, alnico and ceramic or ferrite magnets.

Temporary Magnets

Temporary magnets only behave like magnets when they are near a magnetic field. They need to be attached to or close to something that emits a magnetic field to behave like a magnet. Once the source of the magnetic field is removed, they lose their magnetism. They can be made from a variety of materials such paper clips and nails.


Electromagnets are a special type of temporary magnet that requires an electrical current. They are created by coiling a wire around a core material to create a solenoid. When electricity is passed through the solenoid it creates a magnetic field. Because electromagnets can be extremely strong and can be turned on and off they are used in many modern devices such as televisions, trains and industrial lifting.

Types of Permanent Magnets

Permanent magnets are made from special alloys that emit their own persistent magnetic field. Through research, we’ve been able to create increasingly better magnets. Most permanent magnets fall into four families based on the material they are made out of: aluminum-nickel-cobalt (alnicos), strontium-iron (ferrite and ceramics), and the two rare earth magnets: neodymium-iron-boron (neodymium magnets), and samarium-cobalt.

Neodymium Magnets

This rare earth magnet is made from neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) and is considered the world’s strongest magnet. They are very strong, even when small and are difficult to demagnetize. They do, however, tend to be brittle and susceptible to corrosion if left uncoated.

Uses include:

  • Lifting machinery
  • Door catches
  • Audio equipment
  • Hard drives
  • Crafts
  • DIY home improvement projects
  • POP displays
  • Hanging

Samarium Cobalt (SmCo)

Like neodymium magnets, samarium cobalt magnets are a very strong, rare earth magnet that is difficult to demagnetize. They are less prone to corrosion and have a better temperature resistance than neodymium but are slightly less powerful.

Uses Include:

  • Motors
  • Turbo machinery
  • Travelling-wave tubes
  • Pump couplings
  • Sensors
  • Humid environments
  • High temperature applications
  • Automotive, marine, aerospace, military, food and manufacturing applications


Alnico magnets get their name from the first two letters of their three main components: aluminum, nickel, and cobalt. They can be demagnetized relatively easily and are not as strong as rare earth magnets, leading them to be used less often than other types of magnets. They do, however, feature good temperature resistance and play a critical role in electro permanent magnetic chucks and lifting magnets.

Uses include:

  • manufacturing of sensors
  • guitar pickups
  • relays
  • high temperature handling equipment

Ceramic or Ferrite

Ceramic or ferrite magnets are made of strontium carbonate and iron oxide. They are one of the cheapest and most commonly used magnets on the market. They are easy to produce, strong and not easy to demagnetize. They do tend to be brittle and are not as strong as neodymium magnets, but for basic crafts and fridge magnets they are a cost-effective solution.

Uses include:

  • Fridge magnets
  • Novelty items
  • Crafts & DIY
  • Loudspeakers
  • Security systems
  • Motors, generators and alternators
  • Medical instruments
  • Lifting magnets
  • Sea searcher magnets
  • Eddy current devices
  • Brakes
  • Clamps
  • Switches and relays
  • Sweeper magnets

Where to Buy Permanent Magnets

Knowing about the different types of magnets, their characteristics and common uses will help you determine what type of magnet you need for your project. We have many different types of permanent magnets available for purchase on our website including neodymium magnets and ceramic magnets. If you’re still not sure what magnet is the right for your project, we can help. We have years of experience and expertise in helping you decide which magnetic product is right for you. Get started by calling us at 800-330-1432 or send us a message.



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Fridge Magnet Reminderassorted sizes of round magnets