Diamonds are beautiful and precious. They are mined in difficult situations and their prices are sky-rocketing. So what could be better if diamonds could be manufactured as per the desired shape and size requirements?
Lockheed Martin is 3D printing giant which is involved in aerospace and defense components production. It has filed a patent for a diamond printing 3D printer. These diamonds are synthetic diamonds and the Lockheed Martin’s diamond printer uses poly (hydrido carbyne), a carbon-based pre-ceramic polymer as the raw material.
This substance is similar in structure to that of diamonds.
The polymer and ceramic powder are deposited in alternate layers and form a predetermined shape. It is then heated to over 100 degrees in an atmosphere devoid of oxygen. This phenomenon is called pyrolysis which involves a physical or chemical change due to the absence of oxygen. The heat then converts the poly (hydrido carbyne) into a diamond and the extra ceramic is removed.
There are other proposals stated in the patent that are suggesting the use of nanopowders and pre-ceramic polymers for diamond production.
The Lockheed Martin has just filed a patent as of now, but the production of diamonds could well be a reality in future. These printers will be able to make customized diamonds in various shapes and sizes. Though initially these 3D printers will be priced very high and therefore the cost of a 3D printed diamond will be higher than the traditional diamonds. Gradually as jewelers start investing in these printers and there is an increase in demand, the prices of 3D printed diamond jewelry is likely to become competitive.
The advent of 3D printing technology could lead to the production of diamonds at home, sometime in future. The diamonds can then be customized as per the requirement of the user.