Industrial Diamond Cuts Through the Competition
10 September 2010
GFD (Gesellschaft für Diamantprodukte mbH), a German developer and manufacturer of diamond-based tools have applied its diamond coating technology to develop what the company says is the ultimate razor blade. The product combines the hardest material in the world with the sharpest possible cutting edge.
The plasma sharpened diamond coated carbide blades are achieved by applying a nanocrystalline diamond coating to a carbide blade, which is then polished by a plasma sharpening process until the cutting edge is sharpened to a few nanometres. “This simple-sounding procedure is the result of years of research and development,” says Dr André Flöter, managing director of GFD.
GFD is currently exploring potential alliances in the wet shaving market to develop this product for the consumer market. “Potential partners should be well versed in marketing in the middle to upper price segment,” Dr. Flöter says. “Initial talks are underway. Thankfully one does not have to be a millionaire to be able to enjoy the new razor. If one adds together the costs of disposable razors over the period of one year, then our diamond blade could certainly be a reasonably priced alternative.”
Behind GFD’s new blade is ‘Diamaze PSD’ or Plasma Sharpened Diamond, the company’s trademarked technology. After the carbide blades are coated in a diamond film, which can vary between 5µm and 25µm in thickness, the Plasma Sharpening Process then increases the sharpness of the blades to an almost atomically sharp cutting edge. It is even possible to create a Diamaze PSD blade that is sharper than the original carbide blade says the company.
GFD’s razor blades are said to last 1,000 times longer than the conventional steel blades and typical increases in lifetime are 10 times to 40 times when compared with carbide or ceramic blades.
Diamond’ s qualities are advantageous in many applications and industries, but in blades, their extreme hardness is key. Coating carbide blades with diamond supports optimising the sharpness of the cutting edge and increases durability particularly for tools which is a major application area for many companies including GFD. The roughness of the cutting edge is very low and therefore frictional effects are minimised. For GFD, the coating results in an extremely smooth surface and is achieved by using a special, fine-grained, diamond layer. The typical surface roughness ranges between 20-40 nm Rms.
GFD is a in the micro-structuring of diamond and is a manufacture of diamond coated, hard metal blades with plasma sharpened cutting edges and plasma sharpened turning tools and drills. The blades are sold under the brand name Diamaze PSD (Plasma Sharpened Diamond).
Diamond as an engineering material
In spite of the diamond’s numerous useful properties: a conductor, an electrical insulator, chemical stable, transparent and an excellent cutting instrument, diamonds have played a backseat role as a manufacturing/ engineering material. Reasons for this include the rarity and expense of naturally occurring diamonds with the right combination of properties for a particular application and until recently, the high cost of synthesising diamond material. It was not until the early 1980s that researchers began using a new procedure to manufacture diamonds artificially as a thin layer using chemical vapour deposition processes and at a reasonable price.
GFD says it is one of the first companies in the world to master the industrial plasma sharpening of diamond coatings on a scale relevant to production. The company has worked with Professor Hans-Jörg Fecht, a renowned expert on nanomaterials from the University of Ulm. This collaboration coupled with public research funding, has enabled GFD to develop products in the area of cutting technology based on artificially manufactured nanocrystalline diamond coatings, which can be used in industrial manufacturing. GFD develops and produces cutting blades various industries with benefits being that they have lower long-term blade costs, considerable reduction of machine down time and setup costs, extreme sharpness, long lifetime and improved yield.
Diamaze PSD blades can be used for cutting a large variety of materials including metal foils and carbon fibres, composite materials and paper, wood and textiles. It products span manufacturing, plastics and packaging, pharmaceutics and medical technology, aviation and space travel. GFD products are manufactured and distributed by their subsidiary company Diamaze Microparts SA, based in Switzerland.