Permanent magnets are used in the following major groups: acoustic transducers, motors and generators, magneto mechanical devices, and magnetic field and imaging systems. You will find permanent magnets in many products, such as televisions, telephones, computers, audio systems and automobiles.
The permanent magnet family consists, in general terms, of non-rare earth permanent magnets and neodymium magnets. The non-rare earth magnets include Alnico (Aluminum-Nickel-Cobalt) magnets and Ceramic (Strontium and Barium Ferrite) magnets. Rare earth magnets include Sm-Co (Samarium-Cobalt) magnets and Nd-Fe-B (Neodymium-Iron-Boron) magnets.
Although non-rare earth magnets are used in the majority of these applications due to their economic cost, rare earth permanent magnets have many distinguishing characteristics, such as a large Maximum Energy Product, (one performance index for permanent magnets). Dozens of magnetic materials which contain rare earth have been developed recently. Two major families of rare earth permanent magnets, Sm-Co magnets and Nd-Fe-B magnets, have been widely used in a variety of applications. Each family has its own advantages and disadvantages.