The use of rare earth magnets is commonplace in many of today’s most advanced military products. Rare earth magnets power mission critical systems such as radar systems for surveillance, traveling wave tubes for satellites, electric motors for fighter jets, and guidance systems for missiles. With so many of our nation’s critical defense systems dependent on rare earth magnets, it’s hard to believe there is only one remaining producer in the United States.
In the late 1960s, Marlin Walmer was working as a metallurgist with the Hamilton Watch Company developing a process to produce platinum cobalt magnets used in the world’s first electric wristwatches. To stay abreast of materials developments, Marlin attended technical conferences. In the late ‘60s, Dr. Karl J, Strnat and his colleagues at the United States Air Force Research Lab reported on the potential for a new magnet material based on rare earth elements and transition metals. Marlin was intrigued by this and soon learned specifically that the focus was on samarium cobalt. Marlin then decided to break out on his own to pioneer the development and commercialization of the world’s first samarium cobalt magnets. In 1970, this work started in an old milk house on a Kreider dairy farm near Manheim, Pennsylvania.
Fifty years later, Electron Energy Corporation has become a global leader in the supply of rare earth magnet solutions and is widely recognized for its contributions to both the science and technology of rare earth magnet materials. Still located in Lancaster County, Electron Energy Corporation has grown to become the leading supplier for critical military products such as traveling wave tubes, which power modern communications. “Without the advancements in rare earth magnet material that EEC has developed over the last fifty years, modern military communications, navigation and radar systems would not be possible,” states Scott Murr, Director of Business Development for Electron Energy.
“When other magnet producers moved overseas to focus on consumer products and cutting costs, EEC made the strategic decision to keep its production facility in the United States focusing on defense and aerospace customers,” he adds. “Today EEC plays a critical role as a supplier to the defense industrial base by maintaining the only remaining vertically integrated samarium cobalt production capability in the U.S.”
As Electron Energy Corporation celebrates its 50th Anniversary, we continue to invest in creating new rare earth magnet materials in our research and development laboratory. At the Materials Technology Center, engineers are working today to push the limits of the rare earth magnet materials that will power the military products of tomorrow. As the only remaining U.S. producer, Electron Energy Corporation plays a key role in ensuring our military industrial base has the rare earth magnet solutions it needs to support mission critical systems.