Earlier today, I posted an article over at RareMetalBlog after the question of non-defense applications of rare earth permanent magnets came up. Certainly most of us are aware of the use of such materials in motors and generators, but there are hundred of other applications for such magnets - and not just in the form of simple components. By combining magnets and arranging them in special configurations, we can create all kinds of magnetic field shapes and profiles.
The applications covered include magnetic couplings, MRI systems, NMR systems for well bore drilling, Halbach & Stelter arrays, biomagnetic separation, magnetron sputtering and electronic article surveillance.
The article is called "7 Lesser Known Applications of Rare Earth Permanent Magnets" and you can read it here.