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This paper investigates the influence of the choice of soft magnetic material on the performance of a tubular permanent magnet machine, and quantifies the relative merits of silicon iron laminations and soft magnetic composites (SMCs). The machine is equipped with a modular stator winding and employs a quasi-Halbach magnetized moving-magnet armature. It is shown that, despite its poorer space utilization, a machine whose stator is fabricated from silicon iron laminations has the highest force capability, efficiency and power factor. A machine with a SMC stator, on the other hand, has potential advantages in terms of ease of manufacture and lower cost.