Diamonds have forever enchanted us with their beauty; they have been the mascot of our riches and are in themselves a scientific marvel. Diamond is the hardest natural material on earth, and thus over 70 percent of diamonds are used for industrial applications as tools.
Since the early 1950s, Synthetic diamonds have been manufactured, but due to their super rigid structure, it is remarkably hard and complex to machine them.
But now Sandvik Additive Manufacturing has set the Thames on fire by creating the first-ever 3D printed diamond composite. All is about to change!
After the diamond is made, it is impossible to machine it. The only way to shape it is from the very beginning itself, but it is a remarkably tough feat to achieve. As the Delivery Manager at Sandvik Additive Manufacturing, Anders Ohlsson, puts it “Historically, 3D printing in diamond was something that none of us imagined was achievable.”
But Sandvik has been successful; its 3D printed composite diamond has been made via a process called stereolithography. The process is unique and involves a slurry of diamond powder and polymer. In this process, the complex parts are created, layer by layer, using UV light. After the piece is produced, it is then further processed through Sandvik’s proprietary method to ensure perfect properties of the diamond composite. This revolutionary method opens new vistas of possibilities, confined only by the very imagination of the designer.
Sandvik’s diamond is not pure, it is not transparent, and being a composite, it differs from the natural or synthetic diamond in composition. The composite diamond consists mainly of pure diamond particles cemented in a very hard matrix. The entire process is done scrupulously to ensure that the composite diamond replicates most of the properties of pure diamond.
It possesses extreme hardness (three times stiffer than steel), exceptional heat conductivity (better than copper), while also possessing low density (close to Aluminium), thermal expansion at par with Invar, and fantastic corrosion resistance.
Sandvik’s additive manufacturing technology will fundamentally alter the way diamond is used as a tool. The accessibility to customized diamond tools with intricate designs will unleash change across industries. One can expect to see the composite diamond in new advanced industrial applications from wear parts to space, within a couple of years.
The fact that one can print any shape, in any size, in diamond, has already given industry experts goosebumps, as they fathom the possibilities.
Source: Sandvik Additive Manufacturing