Industrial Uses for Diamonds

The word “diamond” is derived from the Greek word “adamas,” which means “unconquerable.” That is a very fitting appellation considering it describes precisely why diamonds lend themselves so well to industrial application. Diamonds are the clearest and hardest mineral known on Earth and have unique chemical and physical properties that endow them with a superior cutting ability. Industrial diamonds are judged on their hardness and ability to conduct heat—qualities that are extremely valuable to various industries. In this post, we’ll discuss more about the mining and use of industrial-grade diamonds.

Industrial-Grade Diamonds

Few people realize that the overwhelming majority of mined diamonds, 80%, in fact, are used for industrial purposes. Industrial-grade diamonds are prized for their strength and heat conductivity, rather than the gem-grade qualities of cut, color, clarity, and carat. Industrial diamonds do not have to be large to be useful—even the smallest stones can perform a variety of industrial applications. Synthetic diamonds are also produced in mass quantities for industrial use. In fact, about 600 metric tons of synthetic diamonds are produced every year for industrial uses.

Applications

Here are a few of the many industrial applications that diamonds have:

  • Cutting - diamonds are frequently embedded in saw blades and other cutting tools to lend strength to the instrument.
  • Drilling - diamonds are also commonly embedded in drill tips.
  • Grinding and polishing - diamonds can be ground into a powder for grinding and polishing purposes. For example, diamonds are commonly used to grind optical lenses.
  • Laboratory uses - specialized industrial applications in the laboratory use diamonds as a form of containment for high-pressure experiments, the creation of specialized windows, and the formation of high-performance bearings.

Growing Diamonds for Industrial Use

Within the last few years, scientists have begun growing diamonds in labs for industrial use. One application of these lab-synthesized diamonds was utilitzed during Operation Desert Storm. The infrared windows that jet fighter pilots used to see at night were being blasted by sand, scratching the surface and making it impossible to see through. University of Florida researchers began looking for a way to protect the windows from this desert wear-and-tear, and they came up with a diamond coating. The coating is made of microscopic diamond particles and water that is put into a silicon wafer. The resulting protective coat made the windows virtually scratch-proof, and scientists hope to perfect the method to extend it to other applications, such as diamond-coated kitchen surfaces and spacecraft windows. Looking into the future, researchers also believe that diamond chips will eventually replace silicon microchips in computers, which would eliminate the overheating problem of computer processors.

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