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Would you Buy a 3D Printer That Prints Diamonds?

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Aug 22, 2016

Imagine being able to make your own diamonds for your loved one from the comfort of your own home, without the irritations of either unethical mining or insufficient funds. 

That’s the dream of Lockheed Martin, aerospace and defense corporation. But with their patent application filed, this may be a reality sooner than we think. The company has made its name in aerospace & defense, space, contract vehicles and energy business. They also focus on emerging technologies – and that’s where advanced manufacturing (3D printing) fits in.

The idea is only just at the patent application stage, there can be no certainty as to when a diamond 3D printer will become a reality.

The intention for this printer is to be able to 3D print diamond drill heads. These would have complex geometries, as well as being extremely strong (But, it’s worth dreaming about the day you’ll be able to 3D print your fiance a diamond ring in any shape).


How are the 3D printed synthetic diamonds made?

As you may have learned in school, diamonds are formed from carbon by extreme heat and pressure in the earth’s core. This causes the atoms to bond together. The product of this is hard and expensive crystals.

Lockheed Martin’s diamond printer replaces the earth’s core with poly(hydridocarbyne). This is a carbon-based pre-ceramic polymer. What makes it special is that it has many similarities in its structure to diamonds.

Once you have chosen the exact shape, the machine will begin depositing layers of polymer and ceramic powder – much like an ordinary FFF 3D printer.

Your chosen shape is heated to temperatures over 100 degrees. This will cause a physical and chemical change and the poly(hydridocarbyne) will crystallize into a diamond. Once this process is finished, any excess ceramic powder is removed.

Although for now, it’s very unlikely that people will be able to print their own diamond rings for a long time… but we can always dream. If you want to check out the whole patent, click here. Let us know what you think of the technology in the comments.

(Source: Patent Yogi)

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License: The text of "Would you Buy a 3D Printer That Prints Diamonds?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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