A neodymium magnet (also known as NdFeB, NIB or Neo magnet) is the most widely used type of rare-earth magnet. It is a permanent magnet made from an alloy of neodymium, iron, and boron to form the Nd2Fe14B tetragonal crystalline structure. Developed independently in 1984 by General Motors and Sumitomo Special Metals, neodymium magnets are the strongest type of permanent magnet available commercially. Because of different manufacturing processes, they are divided into two subcategories, namely sintered NdFeB magnets and bonded NdFeB magnets. They have replaced other types of magnets in many applications in modern products that require strong permanent magnets.
Neodymium magnets are graded according to their maximum energy product, which relates to the magnetic flux output per unit volume. Higher values indicate stronger magnets. For sintered NdFeB magnets, there is a widely recognized international classification. Their values range from 28 up to 52. The first letter N before the values is short for neodymium, meaning sintered NdFeB magnets. Letters following the values indicate intrinsic coercivity and maximum operating temperatures.
Sintered Nd2Fe14B tends to be vulnerable to corrosion, especially along grain boundaries of a sintered magnet. This type of corrosion can cause serious deterioration, including crumbling of a magnet into a powder of small magnetic particles, or spalling of a surface layer.
This vulnerability is addressed in many commercial products by adding a protective coating to prevent exposure to the atmosphere. Nickel plating or two-layered copper-nickel plating are the standard methods, although plating with other metals, or polymer and lacquer protective coatings, are also in use.