Why Are Diamonds Used in Drills?

by Celeste Good; Updated September 26, 2017
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It may seem odd that diamond, a gemstone that represents the height of romanticism and status, is also so highly valued in many industries. But in fact the majority of the world's supply of natural diamonds is employed for industrial purposes and only about a quarter of all diamonds are used in fine jewelry.

Why Diamonds?

The chemical composition of diamond makes it the hardest material, natural or man-made, known to man. It is this invincibility the makes diamond so sought after for use in industrial drills and cutting saws. An additional advantage of using diamonds in drilling tools is that the life of a diamond drill bit is much longer than any other drill bit material. With regard to its use as an abrasive or use in semiconductors, diamond is invaluable because of its thermal stability.

Diamond Use in Petroleum and Mining

Diamond is commonly used in the petroleum and mining industries. Diamond drill bits and coring bits are used for oil well drilling and obtaining core samples. Diamond is also incorporated into circular saws that are used for cutting slabs of marble, granite, and other types of extremely hard stone from quarried blocks. Drill bits, saws and other diamond tools must be custom made in a variety of diameters and lengths to correspond to specific materials and different pressures called upon in the use of the tool.

Diamond Use in Semiconductors

Another industrial use for diamonds is to harness their power as a semiconductor. Blue diamonds in particular have superior electrical conductivity. Electrical current travels through a semiconductor and this can be used to create microchips. Diamonds have superior electronic qualities at higher temperatures than other minerals. Diamonds can also be used as a heat sink for semiconductors. Microprocessors, power-handling semiconductors and other micro-electromechanical systems require a method to reduce their temperature and diamond is very efficient in transferring this heat.

Diamond Use as an Abrasive

Additionally, diamond particles perform better than other abrasives for polishing a variety of stone surfaces. Polishing materials are generally referred to as abrasives and powder made from diamonds is often referred to as a super-abrasive. Diamond powder consists of block-like, jagged diamond particles that have irregular surfaces. These strong edges hold up well through the extreme temperatures generated by the friction during abrasive sanding and polishing. Diamond powder is available in different grades of mesh, in which the shape and sharp edges of the particles vary in compactness and size.

About the Author

Celeste Good has been a freelance writer since 1998. Along with articles for "Surfer Girl Magazine" and "The Beaches Leader," she has authored training manuals and user guides for Allstate and CitiBank. Good holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Florida.

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