Case: World's first 3D-printed diamond
The world's first 3D-printed diamond composite. Perfect structure. Perfect characteristics. Just imagine what it could do to industries, when it is possible to print anything, in any shape – in diamond.
Diamond is harder than anything else in nature. It is a key component in a large range of wear-resistant tools in various industries, but since it’s so hard and complicated to machine it is almost impossible to form complex shapes. To solve this, we developed a proprietary process, making it possible to 3D print in diamond composite – an innovation that has the potential to revolutionize the way we use the hardest material on the planet.
Natural diamond is carbon crystals that forms under high temperature and pressure conditions that exist only about 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface. It is typically about 99.95 percent carbon. The other 0.05 percent can include one or more trace elements, which are atoms that aren’t part of the diamond’s essential chemistry. Diamond’s crystal structure is isometric, which means the carbon atoms are bonded in essentially the same way in all directions.
Sandvik creates first 3D printed diamond composite
Another mineral, graphite, also contains only carbon, but its formation process and crystal structure are very different. The result is that graphite is so soft that you can write with it, while diamond is so hard that you can only scratch it with another diamond. Without any one of these factors, diamond might be just another mineral. Fortunately, though, this special combination of chemical composition, crystal structure, and formation process gives diamonds the qualities that make them extraordinary.
Besides the hardness, diamond provides and impressive combination of chemical, physical and mechanical properties:
- Low coefficient of friction
- High thermal conductivity
- High electrical resistivity
- Low thermal expansion coefficient
- High strength
- Broad optical transparency from ultra violet to infra red
- Resistant to chemical corrosion
- Biologically compatible
The use of diamond has grown enormously since WWII, exploiting the unique combination of properties and the increased availability of the material as synthesis methods developed. Diamond can be used in various applications, such as:
- Wear components
- Cutting tools
- Thermal management (substrates, heat spreaders, and heat sinks)
- Semiconductor devices
- Optical components
- Other high-performance applications