Pololu Robotics & Electronics
My account Comments or questions? About Pololu Contact Ordering information Distributors

Rare Earth Elements & Pololu



I would like to know if you at Pololu use rare earth elements to create your hardware.




We do not process raw materials in our manufacturing. We use normal electronic components, and those might have some rare earth elements in them. Why do you ask?

- Grant


Hello Grant,

Thank you for your answer.

I ask because I want to do robotics but I also want to care about the environment / nature.
Producing rare earth elements / metals is sadly a huge pollution of the environment.
I would love to see that my favourite hardware manufacturer Pololu would avoid using rare earth elements in their hardware and go green. :mrgreen:
It’s a bit more difficult… but possible. The car manufacturer Tesla for example doesn’t use rare earth elements. And these cars are real high-tech… as well as your hardware is.
To go green(er) is also good for marketing I guess…

Do you have a list of the hardware with rare earth elements ?
I am especially interested in your Mini Maestro USB Servo Controllers, strong servos and distance sensors.



Hello, Timo.

I suspect your concern is largely misguided, especially for a tiny company like Pololu. As Grant mentioned, we use standard commodity electronic components in our products. At our scale, it is very unlikely that we would have any meaningful impact on rare earth element usage, both in terms of how much might be in our products and how much we can influence component manufacturers.

More broadly, we believe it is better for the world for us to spend our efforts doing things we are pretty sure are good than for us to chase the worry that something we do might have minute negative impacts. We would therefore not want to waste effort on this avenue of “greenness” (or to market our wasted effort, since that would be disingenuous).

However, I would like to know if you know of direct, actionable steps to take to avoid something bad. For example, do you have some specific examples where a component like a resistor or ceramic capacitor from a reputable manufacturer contains some of these elements but an equivalent from another manufacturer does not?

And by the way, Tesla probably has plenty of rare earths in the car, just not in the main motors. Even though they’re a thousand times bigger than Pololu and greenness is a large part of their justification, I doubt it makes sense (or that it’s possible) for them to design out or redesign every electronic component and small motor and speaker.

- Jan