Quite Expensive Powder
Did you know that the diamond gemstones we buy as beautiful jewelry account for less than 20% of all diamonds mined? If you wonder what happens to the other 80% of diamonds that do not have sufficient diamond color, diamond clarity & diamond carat weight to warrant cutting them into gemstones, read on. These diamonds are used for industrial purposes, and are in fact called industrial diamonds.
Some uses of industrial diamonds keep the diamonds as intact stones, cutting and shaping the diamonds to the required dimensions. Other industrial uses of diamonds require the diamonds to be much smaller, even ground as small as a fine powder. Diamond cutting is both an art and a science, and takes a great amount of skill. The cutting process does not cut diamonds down into a powder, however. How does a hard material such as a diamond get ground so finely that it becomes a powder? You may be surprised to learn just how fine a powder diamonds can form, and what uses the diamond powder performs.
Diamonds as Superabrasives
Diamonds in powder form are used as superabrasives. A superabrasive is an extremely hard substance (like a diamond) that is used to cut, polish or grind materials that are either too fragile or too hard to be affected by regular abrasives. Pumice and sand are examples of regular abrasives, and are applied by rubbing in order to smooth a material or polish it. Coarse abrasives like these may remove too much of the material or scratch it in the process of polishing it.
Diamond superabrasive powder is used for materials like glass, ceramic tiles, and even gemstones, like rough diamonds. Diamond powder used for cutting or grinding is bonded to another material such as a drill or saw. You can cut accurate and precise holes in materials like glass, ceramic tiles, countertops, and metal with a diamond covered drill bit. When diamond powder is used for polishing, it is rubbed on the desired material with a cloth. Diamond powder can polish away scratches in your windshield, and restore a mirror shine to collectibles such as antique firearms, in addition to polishing diamonds and other gemstones.
With Diamond Powder, Size Matters
Diamonds are ground into a powder using a process called micronization. In micronization, a special fluid or gas breaks down the solid diamonds into powdered form, and produces many tiny grains of the same size. The diamond particles are measured in microns. One micron is a millionth of a meter. Diamond powder is graded according to how coarse or fine the diamond particles are, and can measure from .25 microns to 50 microns. Both the size and the uniformity of the diamond particles are important for diamond powder super abrasives. If diamond powder has irregularly shaped diamond grains, it may scratch a material instead of polishing it.
Even though we generally think of diamonds as dazzling rings or earrings, if we have a scratch in our countertop or glass windows, diamond gemstones won’t solve the problem. Diamond powder will!
Learn also about diamond dust.