Geekery: 3D Printed Magic Magnets


F**king polymagnets… how do they work?

Correlated Magnetics makes magnets with unique pole configurations that have a ton of applications – the printed designs create super strong connections and can be configured to work like a lock/key system. They use a 3D printing technique using maxels (magnetic pixels) to manipulate where magnetic fields occur – creating north and south poles on one surface rather than opposing surfaces.


Polymagnet Function

Destin Sandlin, engineer and host of Smarter Every Day, stopped by their offices recently to chat.

(Interview starts at 2:00)

If you want to pick up a few of these to mess with –  be sure that titan’s arm really stays in place – you can order in a bunch of different sizes/shapes/configurations here.


What applications can you think of for these?

  • rtheom

    Hobbywise: Swappable weapon arms that can be positioned and don’t just slowly rotate downward as you play!

    Also: Hovering jetbikes/land speeders without the need for liquid nitrogen or electricity!

  • Nilok

    Interlocking super strong magnets, so many uses.

    Just for the hobby, I wonder how for the spring magnets can be extended and how much weight they can support. Can they support a single mini, or can they do full on skimmer tanks at the right height?

    • rtheom

      I don’t think you’re actually going to get much more hover height than what they had happening in the video, but that could still be really cool. I imagine they could easily support/stay configured for anything plastic based. FW models might be a bit tougher to get to stay as they’ll pull more to the sides.

  • JP

    If you forced opposing poles of two powerful magnets together, would you break reality?

    • Morgrim

      Nope, but you can fracture the magnets if they’re REALLY strong. Or just send them flying apart. Be careful, damaged magnets tend to self destruct kind of explosively…

  • Balazra

    Each magnet has a set strength (you cant add extra power to a magnetic field with out increasing electron count (add electricity)or decreasing resistance. (cool the magnet))
    They have found a way to manipulate the magnetic field by putting the end points for each field on the same axis plain (x,y). This means you can at a long distance have the same or lower magnetic field line strength and at a short distance have a higher or lower field strength.
    you can create intricate field patterns on two different magnetic plains to create different field manipulations at differing distances, so that with the distance of the plains changes the polarity effect.
    You can also change the polarity effect due to rotational alignment (z, axis) meaning dependent on axis rotation the polarity effect can be changed. With out the rod thought the z axis the magnetic field is unstable and this locking /spring effect seen in the video is unstable and would not work this way.

    Yes you could create a flying base that holds steady at a particular hight and is non-rotational. however the “hight” of the hover would be dependent on magnet strength and would be shorter the equivalent single pole magnets.

    Yes you could creature non-rotational magnets for arms quite easily.
    you could also make it so that the total strength of a magnet was in a much smaller distance (z axiz) and so they would hold tighter for the same field strength.

    hope that helps 🙂