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The name neodymium originates from the Greek "neos didymos" meaning "new twin." Neodymium is a silvery-white metal that never occurs as a free element in nature. Rather, neodymium is considered to be one of the more reactive rare-earth metals, and it is found embedded in ores.
Compound derivatives of neodymium have industrial applications. A compound composed of neodymium, iron and boron is used to produce permanent magnets. This neodymium derivative not only imparts extremely powerful magnetic properties in the manufactured magnet, but also, the compound is relatively cheap to synthesize compared to the frequently used samarium compound. In the glass industry, neodymium serves as an additive that colours glass objects in various shades ranging from pure violet to grey.
Neodymium is an important constituent of optical crystals used in certain lasers. At the National Research Council Canada (NRC), the 3D colour digitizer uses neodymium to obtain the green colour in images. Digital files of physical objects produced from NRC's 3D scanning technology can be transmitted and printed or viewed in 3D form using virtual reality technologies.