The diamond is forever. This cliched phrase has always held some truth since the phrase appeared in a De Beers ad in 1948. Pop culture, royalty, and engineers alike have been obsessed with the alluring properties of the diamond, and who wouldn’t be infatuated by the diamond?
Besides their sparkle, diamonds are considered to be some of the hardest structures on the planet considered by researchers to be 58x harder than anything you will find in nature, giving them a wide range of uses outside of the realms of Instagram friendly jewelry.
A diamond’s hardness makes it valuable in another way, giving it a wide range of industrial uses, even being used to cut, grind, or drill other materials.
Now let’s switch gears for a bit. Besides diamonds, we also get excited for the emerging industry and revolutionary process of additive manufacturing or 3D printing. 3D printing is changing the way we design, build, live and eat. You can even 3D print organs now. So, that begs the question, could you 3D print a diamond?
Additive Manufacturing leader Sandvik asked that same question and delivered an impressive answer. Last time we checked in with Sandvik, they were 3D printing an almost indestructible guitar for a rock star.
Though you might not want to throw this diamond on a chain or an engagement ring the 3D printed diamond is an excellent example of how the industry leader can again use additive manufacturing to revolutionize an industry.
3D Printing a Diamond
Why 3D print a diamond composite? As mentioned above, the diamond has a host of applications outside of the realms of jewelry. In fact, over 70 percent of diamonds are used for industrial applications. This demand is growing.
Now we know what you are thinking, the creation of synthetic diamonds is nothing new. Nevertheless, the process can be both costly and complex, while creating complex shapes is almost impossible.
Sandvik’s patent-pending process changed all of that. Using this process, Sandvik has created a way that allows users to 3D print composites that can be tailored made to just about any task, without the need for further machining.
Anders Ohlsson Delivery Manager at Sandvik Additive Manufacturing, shared his excitement for the new process in the Sandvik press release stating, “On seeing its potential, we began to wonder what else would be possible from 3D-printing complex shapes in a material that is three times stiffer than steel, with heat conductivity higher than copper, the thermal expansion close to Invar – and with a density close to aluminum.”
“These benefits make us believe that you will see this diamond composite in new advanced industrial applications ranging from wear parts to space programs, in just a few years from now.”
As stated, the 3D printed object is a composite, meaning most of the material is diamond, yet for it to be printable the minds at Sandvik cemented the diamond material in a hard matrix material. So, you are probably curious about how they went about creating the diamond composite?
How Do You 3D print Composite?
Now, it can not be understated that t is process was no easy feat. The additive manufacturing process is highly advanced, yet we are sure you are familiar with the idea behind it. The Sandvik 3D printed diamond was created using the 3D printing process called stereolithography.
A precise mixture of diamond powder and polymer are printed layer by layer using ultraviolet light. However, you are not in the clear after you have 3D printed the diamond.
The steps after 3D printing the diamond are just as important, even more, depending on who you ask. This proprietary process is where Sandvik ís able to produce exact properties of the exact diamond composite.
What do you do next after creating the world’s first 3D printed diamond composite? You test it. Not only is this process sustainable with the diamond powder easily recycled and reused in another print job, the diamond has a host of excellent properties.
The diamond has an extremely high hardness, exceptional heat conductivity, while also possessing low density, very good thermal expansion, and fantastic corrosion resistance.
Sanvik’s diamond composite has a wide range of applications that are exciting while having an equally impressive host of applications in countless industries that rely on diamonds for industrial, manufacturing, and design work
This is another great example of how both Sandvik and additive manufacturing are revolutionizing the industries that we work in. “Just imagine what it could do to industries, when it is possible to print anything, in any shape – in diamond.”
If you want to learn more about Sandvik, be sure to stop by their website here.