Hello Reddit! This is Jason Morgan and the team from Correlated Magnetics, creator of Polymagnets, here to answer your questions about the future of magnetic applications using Polymagnets!

We recently were featured in an episode of SmarterEverDay , and we had a blast working with /u/mrpennywhistle.

Proof Proof 2

You can find out more about Polymagnets on our website www.polymagnet.com

Edit 1: We are going to pick our favorite question and make a special magnet, stick around!

Edit 2: /u/kdayel! we really liked your question, so we made you a magnet :)

We will stick around here for a while longer and keep answering questions!!

Edit 3: Thank you all for your questions and comments! We are signing off.

Comments: 866 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

pittofdoom175 karma

Watching the latest Smarter Every Day video, I think I understand how the "springs" were able to lock into place when turned. What I didn't get was how they were able to attract and repel in the same axis. How does that work?

PolymagnetJason241 karma

First question!!

So if you look at the force curve for 1000425, the magnet shown in the pull test in the video, what you will find is another property of correlated magnets that is not highlighted in the video: we create force curves that have higher strength up close, and are weaker at further distances. We do this for both attraction and repulsion on the same magnet pair, balancing the two and using this advantage, to create a ‘zero force’ point that is above the surface of the magnet. We do rely on axial constraint in order to keep the magnets aligned by one degree of freedom, otherwise the magnets would simply fall apart to the side or flip over in the air until they stuck!

VikingCoder16 karma

Where I can buy a spring?

PolymagnetJason49 karma

On our catalog you can find 1000674 and 100675. These two magnets are used together to make a spring as shown in our datasheet. We will also be adding a spring demonstrator to the catalog in the next week.

Launderedkarma161 karma

Fucking magnets, how do they work?

PolymagnetJason241 karma

We knew it wouldn't take long for this question to come up...we would answer, but you would say we were lyin'...

Here is a great description from a great scientist...

kdayel157 karma

  • What "resolution" are you able to print at with your system?
  • Can a magnet be reprinted to a new design? If so, is there a limited number of times a magnet can be reprinted?
  • Can your technology be used on electromagnets? Basically, can I make a custom magnet that can be switched on and off?

EDIT: I was so excited to get my questions out, I forgot to say this: Holy crap you guys have something freaking incredible on your hands.

After watching the Smarter Every Day (shoutouts to /u/mrpennywhistle) episode, my reaction was basically this.

EDIT2: Bummer, the spring latches are out of stock. If I order one today, is there any chance I'll be able to get one within the next week or so?

EDIT3: Holy crap guys, thanks for the response, and thanks for the custom magnet! This is amazing!

PolymagnetJason119 karma

We agree! It is freaking incredible!

The resolution of the printer depends in some ways on the application and the material. As described elsewhere we use spot magnetization, but we are not generally limited by the size of the spots, or as we call them, maxels.

Magnets can be remagnetized. We typically start with "fresh" conventionally magnetized or unmagnetized material to make our magnets.

The same principles at work in our Polymagnets can be applied to electromagnets.

We will make more spring latches and other demonstrators available as soon as we can, but I can't promise that we will have more in a week. We have seen tremendous demand for these thanks to /u/mrpennywhistle and his outstanding video.

lostintime2004133 karma

Do you think you could turn this into a secure lock and key method? Like only a specific configuration will pull the pins the desired latch a specific length, and any deviation from it muks the system so it can't be unlocked, IE running a generic magnet over it and pulling on the lock.

PolymagnetJason179 karma

This is something that we have looked at, and this is a potential application for our technology.

ColtaineCrows118 karma

Will the magnetism ever "disappear" (get weaker, etc etc)?

PolymagnetJason176 karma

We typically use neodymium magnets which have a very long life (greater than 100 years). Polymagnets have the same life characteristics as conventional neodymium magnets.

The life of a magnet can be shortened if the magnet is exposed to excessive heat.

zers95 karma

My wife and I watched the smarter every day video, and got to talking.

In formula 1, they use pneumatics to actuate valves in the engines, because springs are too slow. Would your fancy spring magnets be able to do that the mechanical springs could not?

PolymagnetJason120 karma

Great thought. Our springs can be described mathematically like a mechanical spring...there will be a force depending on the distance from equilibrium. Not sure what it would take to make a magnet spring to avoid the valve float issue in an F1 engine, but it would be great fun to work on...

ztirffritz65 karma

Is your company publicly traded? Are you all counting your unhatched eggs/options?

PolymagnetJason80 karma

We are privately held.

Steakin54 karma

More personal question here; what inspired the idea of Polymagnets, and what made you and your team interested in this field specifically? Thanks!

PolymagnetJason79 karma

One of our founders, Larry Fullerton, was trying to find a way to make a self-assembling toy. With his background in communications theory, he came up with the idea of applying coding theory to magnetic systems. You can read more about Larry and our history here.

When I had the opportunity to join the team, I found the possibilities of the technology to be energizing. The magnets are fascinating, and the applications are endless. It is great technology, and I get to work with a great team.

Stijn_M42 karma

Can you order a custom magnet? And are there shipping costs to Europe?

PolymagnetJason58 karma

We have a team of magnetics engineers that help design custom magnets for your application. That typically includes engineering the forces, behaviors, and magnet geometry needed to meet the application needs. Please contact us at [email protected] for more details. We can ship to Europe...the charges would depend on the specific charges for the shipment.

MattBaster38 karma

How long does it take to go from concept to finished product?

PolymagnetJason39 karma

That is a great question. The cycle time varies depending on the complexity of the product. For custom programs we can usually determine feasibility in a couple of weeks or less. Custom magnet geometries usually take 4 weeks or so. More complex designs take longer. Designs based on our catalog can be turned very quickly.

TheManOTheHour37 karma

What's the largest magnet you can print?

I'm assuming you're generating some pretty powerful magnetic fields within your "printers" in order to create your magnets. Are your machines shielded in some way? Have you accidentally fried any phones or otherwise ruined electronics during your R&D?

Edit: Also, are you hiring? I'm a Mechanical Engineering student on track to graduate in December, and I'm always on the look out for interesting job opportunities :)

PolymagnetJason26 karma

We have printed magnets that are more than 250mm across. Most of our applications call for much smaller magnets.

There are some high fields at work inside the machine. We try to keep our phones and electronics out of there while we are printing...

adavey2935 karma

How stable are the polymagnet configurations? Will those sharply defined shapes blur as time goes on?

PolymagnetJason39 karma

Neodymium magnets are considered permanent, and their magnetism doesn't fade much over time. We have done some accelerated life testing on Polymagnets, and they have the same life characteristics as conventional magnets. They are going to look (and work) great for a long time...

infinite1der23 karma

Do/Can you "print" something other than planer surfaces? Could you "print" a cylinder, for example? Your latch magnets make me think of using a cylinder and pipe chamber as a key/tumbler system ...amongst other things ;)

Awesome stuff, btw. And thanks SmarterEveryDay !

PolymagnetJason17 karma

Most of our magnets are flat, but we have created magnets and magnetic assemblies with curved surfaces.

manta17321 karma

Is there a concise way to explain how you are capable of 'printing' magnets with side by side poles?

PolymagnetJason31 karma

The magnetic printer is a proprietary software-controlled spot magnetizer. We build magnetic regions of either polarity using the spot magnetization. We can create a north region on a magnet, then create a south region next to it. Repeating this process allows us to build magnetic patterns across the magnet.

We start with normal magnetic material, typically neodymium, and create our patterns on that material with the machine.

toamastar21 karma

Hey guys! i got really excited when i saw Destins video! What companies and/or engineering sectors have you approached with your polymagnets? Surely these can be used in MANY things than just doorknobs, have you thought about NASA or car companies? :)

PolymagnetJason27 karma

Great question. We are working with companies in many different sectors including consumer electronics, industrial, automotive and many others. We are always looking for new applications for our Polymagnet technology. Keep an eye out for Polymagnet-equipped products...

matheweis18 karma

First thing I thought about watching the video was that these could be used for small brushless motors to make them smaller/more efficient/more powerful...

How does their field strength compare to neodymium magnets, and do they have high enough environmental tolerance in terms of temperature and material strength? ( lots of micro brushless applications push them to extreme physical limits )

PolymagnetJason13 karma

The field strength at the surface of the magnet is very similar to that of a conventional magnet of the same size and grade. At a distance from the magnet the field depends on the interaction of the different magnetic regions.

sammichmang17 karma

I saw in the video that the two sides of the Spring/Latch magnet repel until one side is rotated 180 degrees, my question is what would happen if you locked one side in and then spun the other side at a constant rotational speed? Would the two sides oscillate?

Also is the printed magnetism solely on a 2-d plane across the face of the magnets, or can they be printed in 3-d into the depth of the material, allowing for magnetic poles at an angle relative to the normal of the surface plane?

PolymagnetJason17 karma

Great question, so multiple answers! To add to what David says here, that particular design would move up and down as the magnets rotated with respect to each other, but not smoothly. That design has some features that make it stable in the sprung position, so its motion would be a bit odd. We could make a system that oscillated smoothly in that scenario.

The magnetic pattern can be thought of as a 2D pattern on the surface projected through the magnet. We usually use anisotropic material. For this material the field is going to be parallel to the orientation of the material when it leaves the surface. Once it leaves the surface it will be shaped by the magnetic pattern. If we want the field to be at an angle with respect to the face of the magnet we can orient the material at that angle rather than perpendicular to the face. There are some applications where that is quite useful.

Theodormax14 karma

What are some of the coolest ideas for appliances of the magnets do you have?

PolymagnetJason15 karma

We see a lot of great applications in consumer electronics, automotive accessories, wearables, household products, sensors, and others.

The alignment and controlled engagement make products work and feel great, so hopefully you will see more and more of these in the marketplace...

Aaronbrown014 karma

Do you carry/ plan to carry larger magnets in the future? I love magnets and use them often in woodworking projects. I order some from you and will be testing them out on a few different projects of mine. Some of the larger magnets I use have the pull strength of 70- 112 pounds. Do you plan on selling magnets at that pull strength?

PolymagnetJason22 karma

I am a woodworker as well. The shop and woodworking projects are ripe with opportunities for Polymagnets.

We will be introducing some larger, stronger magnets for different applications, and also more countersunk magnets that might be easier to secure in your projects. An immediate solution might be to use an array of magnets. The catalog has some great solutions for magnet to magnet and magnet to steel applications that offer attraction, alignment, and shear resistance. Try these or these...they operate over different effective ranges.

IAmDotorg14 karma

I'll be honest, when I saw that video it sort of felt like some guy from the 1950s at Bell Labs saying "hey, look at this interesting solid state tube we invented"...

My question, on both a physical size and field strength basis, how small/big can you make these? How strong a field can they be? There's so many things, both nano-scale and high-energy scale that it seems that technology could be useful for.

PolymagnetJason8 karma

For applications where we want to maximize strength, we start with magnets at least 10 to 12 mm in one dimension. For other applications we can go a little smaller. The field strength is roughly the same as a conventional magnet at the surface. Typically the field for a Polymagnet drops off faster as you move away than it does for a conventional magnet.

AmbiguouslyPrecise13 karma

Is it possible to produce magnets that are progressively more powerful along a plane by having an array of tightly knit smaller poles that expand into larger sections of poles? As in, would something like this have a varying power of magnetism across the plane?

Absolutely love what you guys are doing, so exciting to see such a cool technology get lots of love.

PolymagnetJason10 karma

We can create Polymagnets with different force vs. distance curves for for different regions of the magnet. At a given distance from the magnet you could get different forces above those regions.

CokeGlassGateway11 karma

I am 26 with an accounting degree. Is it too late for me to go back to school and become and engineer?

PolymagnetJason8 karma

It is never too late!

tr0n4210 karma

I was blown away with the latch concept I saw. That is both an awesome gadget as well as a practical mechanism. To extend that concept, can magnets be printed in such a way that consistent motion on a parallel plane to the magnets be performed without friction (can things hover, locked into a two dimensional plane)?

In a vastly unintelligent analogy - it would be like a version of air hockey where the elements of play never touch the surface of the field without excessive force being applied?

PolymagnetJason11 karma

We can't create a stable hover or levitation effect with static magnetic systems.

backstept10 karma

It seems you guys mostly make magnets that perform functions similar to traditional fastening solutions, (mounts, latches, connectors etc) aside from that are there any educational tools or toys that you may be able to make with your process? (things like DynoCube/Buckyballs, M-tic, etc)

PolymagnetJason12 karma

Larry Fullerton's original application had to do with self-assembling toys. The selective nature of our coded Polymagnets allows direct, tactile feedback for matches (attach) or mismatches (repel) that could be used in an educational manipulatives.

zsmaster239 karma

Would it be possible to use these on a suspension of a car? Also, as an aspiring student what degrees/life choices have you all made thus far to be able to work for such a company?

PolymagnetJason11 karma

Suspending the car directly with Polymagnets wouldn't be practical, but there are many automotive attachment and alignment applications. We have a fairly high number of physics and engineering degrees (electrical, mechanical, chemical, etc.) represented here.

SwolePot8 karma

Do you work with any superheroes? Your title sounds like you guys would be working with a superhero.

PolymagnetJason32 karma

We have nondisclosure agreements in place that prevent us from talking about specific customer engagements.

LongLiveBacon8 karma

Stupidest question here, what's your favorite movie? I can imagine that as a fan of science, it'd be something science fiction but I'm curious to know. :D

PolymagnetJason24 karma

The Matrix

DNAtaurine7 karma

Do you see Polymagnets being used in high power applications such as permanent magnet synchronous motors/generators?

PolymagnetJason7 karma

I see possibilities for our technology in the development of motors, but they may be a different architecture than what we see today.

RaunchyFeet5 karma

Some of the rare earth magnet motors use higher temp neodymium. Are you able to manufacture the kind with a higher curie point?

PolymagnetJason10 karma

We can work with Samarium Cobalt.

JackFlapper7 karma

Can you vary the strength of the field on a single magnet? Not just +,-, or 0 but something like this: http://i.imgur.com/lqjEhxZ.png

PolymagnetJason4 karma

In general we do not. We can shape the field using the pattern to create different field levels at different distances from the magnet, but in general you can think of the magnet pattern as a 2D pattern on the surface projected through the magnet at a uniform strength.

LaconicHacker4 karma

Do the discs you use to create these magnets already have magnetic poles when you start "printing" with them or are they magnetically neutral? If the initial magnetic state does matter, do you use heat to "reset" the discs in the case of a re-print, or do you simply toss that disc and start with a fresh one?

PolymagnetJason3 karma

Depending on the application we use unmagnetized material or conventionally magnetized material. We typically use fresh material, but it is possible to demagnetize a magnet and reuse it.

secretchannel4 karma

Favorite video game? And what do you think about VR

PolymagnetJason8 karma

Minecraft. Wait, Forza. No Minecraft.

I love VR, but I prefer real R!

decman6783 karma

Saw the video, amazing stuff you guys are doing. Going forward, what big uses do you see for this technology that a traditional magnet can't handle? Are there any ideas you guys already have for it? Thanks, keep up the awesome work!

PolymagnetJason3 karma

There are some key differences between our Polymagnet systems and normal magnets. The advantages include enhance alignment, shear resistance, selective pairing, and managed engagement distance. They make modular products work great, improve holding force, and prevent interference and misalignment. We have some great ideas for it, as do our customers. Stay tuned!

h1703 karma

If magnetic parts are used in critical systems, is it possible for someone to disrupt the printed magnets remotely or via big ass magnet?

PolymagnetJason3 karma

Big magnets can be disruptive. Depending on the application we may be able to minimize their ability to defeat our system.

b0ltzmann138e-232 karma

How expensive are the magnates?
How low can you get the manufacturing costs using mass production?
What do you think will be the first real world application? Which consumer product are we going to see it in first?

PolymagnetJason3 karma

Polymagnet prices depend on several factors, so I can't give a specific answer here. You can check retail prices on our catalog. We can supply our magnets in production volumes, and high volume pricing will typically be better for the same magnet.

We are in several products, but we can't talk about all of them. Here is one that you can check out.