Getting Rid of the Rough Stuff: Diamond Abrasives in Your Everyday Life
Did you know that most diamonds aren't used for jewelry at all, but for diamond abrasives used for cutting, grinding, and polishing hard surfaces?
We come into contact with a lot of things in our day to day. The desk your computer sits on, the car you drive in, the home you live in. Chances are, the parts that make up all of these things were once incredibly rough, unprepared, or a combination of both. Because of this, sanding exists. Sanding is used to smooth away the surfaces we interact with, remove layers of material, or to prepare the surface for reasons such as painting, gluing, and more. In the end, it’s a process we rely on every day – or else things would look and feel a lot different.
The very first recorded use of sandpaper dates all the way back to the 13th century China where shells, sand, and seeds were combined on paper using natural gum. In theory, the formulation that resulted is not much different than what we use today. However, sandpaper and abrasives are not limited to “sand”. In fact, even sharkskin with its rough scales was used a kind of “sand paper”. This simply goes to show that the world of abrasives varies wildly, with different types of abrasives existing to suit all kinds of uses around the world.
In the past, true sandpaper was made of sand (Quartz) which gave way to flint, and eventually garnet sandpaper. Garnet (which is still available today), is harder and sharper than Quartz – giving it the ability to last longer and cut through a surface (typically wood) without scratching it too deeply.
A more modern material widely used today is an abrasive by the name of corundum. Corundum is extremely sharp, hard, and brittle – enabling it to cut, fracture into sharp fragments, and continue cutting. Today, it is used for materials including wood, paint, plastic, metal, and more. Most sanding products today use some form of artificial corundum, more commonly known as aluminum oxide.
Diamonds make the difference
However, while corundum is ranked a 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, diamond abrasives take the cake with a rating of 10 when it comes to hardness. The hardness of diamonds is so effective when it comes to sanding, grinding, and polishing that diamond abrasives are, surprisingly, a large part of the world diamond market. Diamond abrasive discs, pads, and belts are available in varying sizes and constructions to be used as part of power sanding tools or by hand.
The benefits of diamond abrasives are many:
So as you can see, diamonds are used for far more than to simply bring sparkle to the hand, neck, or ears of a loved one. In fact, they have a similar effect on many of the things you use and come into contact with every day, adding the shine, smoothness, and polish you’ve come to expect.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Gold is a writer with interests in geology, history, and the industrial sector. Most recently he has written about diamond abrasives and abrasive grinding wheels for websites like EastWindAbrasives.com