Neodymium Magnets Strength Differences, Applications, Limits, Magnet Safety & The Future
An extremely high percentage of finished neodymium magnets (Rare earth magnets) come from China. The United States does have the ore that is used to pull the neodymium from but lacks refining facilities. The refining of the finished magnet product is performed in China because of less strict environmental rules.
On the horizon there is a new type of magnet being developed that will require no rare earth material (ore) to create. These magnets are called Iron Nitride magnets. These magnets can be created using only Iron and Nitrogen which are materials both very plentiful and inexpensive. In theory these magnets could be manufactured at over twice the strength of Neodymium Magnets. This magnets development is in its infancy. It has been determined that these magnets can be mass produced but so far they have actually only done this as a laboratory demonstration.
For awhile neodymium is what we will be depending on. Neodymium is a safe product as far as handling it from a skin contact standpoint. Neodymium magnets are somewhat fragile however. If you have a very thin neodymium disc magnet it should be treated as you might treat a dinner plate of the same thickness. Their fragility is has nothing to do with the quality of the product but is inherent in the material. If a neodymium magnet breaks it is best to get rid of it because this breaking or chipping may produce very sharp pieces that may cut.
From another standpoint neodymium magnets may be dangerous by virtue of their attraction. 2 large magnets say 2 inches square may attract each other from more than 2 feet away. The speed at which these 2 magnets hit each other is very fast. If you are holding one of the magnets in your hand when they attract the injuries sustained may be like placing your hand on a wall and getting it hit by the pitch of a professional baseball pitcher. A smaller set of 1.26 inch discs will be much less but 2 of them may still pinch your skin enough to draw some blood.