Permanent magnets are manufactured from a magnetized material that creates its own persistent magnetic field. They are either ferromagnetic or ferrimagnetic. These include cobalt, nickel, iron and alloys of rare earth elements as well as naturally occurring minerals such as lodestone. Unlike temporary magnets such as electromagnets, permanent magnets do not lose their magnetic property unless they are heated above their Curie temperature. They are industrially manufactured through casting or sintering and are produced from magnetic metallic elements, composites and rare earth materials. Neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB), samarium cobalt (SmCo), alnico and ferrite are some of the examples of permanent magnets used in the industry. Growth of the automotive industry due to several aspects such as technological advancement, rising population and increasing consumer demand is expected to be one of the primary factors driving the demand for permanent magnets over the next few years. Furthermore, significant growth of the wind energy generation industry owing to rapid industrialization, rising population and increase in demand for electricity is also expected to boost the permanent magnet industry. However, price volatility of rare earth materials such as dysprosium and neodymium due to ban of Chinese exports of rare earth elements in other regions is anticipated to hamper the growth of the permanent magnets market. Increasing application scope of magnets in HEVs coupled with growing demand for better performing vehicles is expected to open opportunities for the growth of the market over the next few years.
Ferrites were the majorly consumed permanent magnets in the industry in 2012 accounting for over 80% of the global demand. These magnets have been majorly used on account of several key factors such as ease of availability, low price, significant performance properties, rapidly growing industrialization and extensively use of these materials in electronics and household appliances. NdFeB magnets are considered to have the strongest magnetic field and the demand for these magnets is expected to grow exponentially within the forecast period on account of their increasing use in various electronics, automotive and energy generation industries, and the subsequent growth of these industries. Demand for other permanent magnets such as alnico and SmCo is expected to be steady due to a substantially high demand from other magnets.
Demand for permanent magnets was highest from automotives, accounting for over 45% of the global demand in 2012. The demand for magnets in automotives has been growing rapidly over the past few years and is expected to follow a similar trend over the next few years. These materials are being used for a wide range of automotive applications such as gearbox, alternators, motors and pollution control among others. However, permanent magnets are expected to witness highest demand from energy generation sector over the next few years. Changing lifestyles and improvements in technology has led to a significant rise in electronic industry as well, leading to higher demand for permanent magnets. On account of cost effective and reliable energy with growing demand for electricity for various industrial and household purposes, the demand for clean and cheap electricity is expected to increase exponentially. Permanent magnets used in turbines, applied in wind energy generation industries has been significantly growing and is expected to follow a similar trend in the next six years.
The permanent magnets demand was highest from China in 2012 accounting for 65% of the global market, owing to growing demand from manufacturing industries such as automotives and electronics. The automotive industry is currently the largest in China and is expected to significantly grow with the favorable economic conditions and improved infrastructure facilities. Demand for permanent magnets has also been highly prevalent in Asia Pacific (excluding China), owing to the growth of wind power, automotive and electronic industries. However, demand from other regions such as North America is expected to be below average due to non-availability of rare earth elements due to ban of Chinese exports of rare earth elements. The ban significantly increased the prices of dysprosium and neodymium which hampered the rare earth magnet industries in these regions.
Companies such as Adams Magnetic Products Co., Arnold Magnetic Technologies, Dexter Magnetic Technologies, Electron Energy Corporation, Hitachi Metals Ltd., Lynas Corporation Ltd., Molycorp Inc., OM Group and Shin-Etsu Chemicals Co., Ltd. among others are certain key players present in the global permanent magnets market. In addition, the permanent magnet market is fragmented due to presence of several medium and small scale permanent magnet manufacturers on a global as well as regional level. Furthermore, certain companies have a limited product portfolio for magnets and refrain from producing all the four types of magnets.
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