Besides jewellery, what else are diamonds used for?
In our everyday lives, we see diamonds most often used in jewellery. In movies, at events, in shopfronts, adorning our loved ones – diamonds are a highlight, a feature. Yet many diamonds aren’t meant for such luxurious destinies. In fact, diamonds have an entire side business you may not be aware of.
Diamonds are one of the hardest and most durable materials we know. They’re also heat resistant. This makes them perfect for a range of industrial uses. Unlike jewellers, industry doesn’t worry about the shape or clarity, let alone the colour. No, industry just cares about what tools it can make more abrasive and durable. While many poorer-quality diamonds the world over are sent for industrial use, their short supply also means that companies create synthetic diamonds for industrial use as well. Here are just a few uses for diamonds you may not be familiar with:
Industrial drills need to be able to crack hard rock deep beneath the Earth’s surface. These gigantic drill bits may be used to drill miles underground. The purpose can be multi-fold. Perhaps an oil or gas company is searching for new sources. A mining company – even a diamond mining company – may be exploring.
Similarly, scientific research may have need for drill bits with diamond’s abrasiveness and durability. Diamond can wear away rock faster than rock can wear away a number of other materials – even metals like steel. That makes diamonds perfect for using in drill bits burrowing beneath the Earth’s surface.
Dentists don’t mean to be secretive about their stash of diamonds, but many dental tools include diamond tips. This helps them to drill cavities with maximum efficiency and without worrying about broken instruments. The diamonds are bonded to the tool’s surface to make it more abrasive and durable. This also makes some of these tools glint in the light, which doesn’t help one’s nerves when waiting for a root canal. Yet rest assured that diamonds help make these tools faster and safer.
Some speakers make use of thin domes of diamond. Why? It might not seem that sensible, but speakers degrade over time. The materials that are made to vibrate wear themselves out and begin to deform with use. When you purchase expensive speakers, you don’t want those materials to wear out – expensive equipment is an investment, after all. The solution is to use diamond domes. Make them thin enough and they can vibrate without ever deforming and lessening the quality of the sound you hear.
Your home PC may have a bit of diamond and almost certainly has a touch of gold in it, but, typically, these are saved for high-end supercomputing machines. Diamond components have a very high heat conductivity. This makes them useful heat sinks. In the future, diamond processors may even be used.
There is a range of other uses for diamond, many of them industrial. Saws with diamonds embedded in them are used to cut up roadways and masonry during construction. Grinding wheels may use diamond to make them tougher and more durable. Engravers use diamond-tipped tools for very hard stones like granite. Diamonds are a beautiful feature when we see them, but they contribute to other parts of our life in ways we don’t always recognise.