Letter | Published:

Clean surface reactions between diamond and steel

Nature volume 274, pages 792793 (24 August 1978) | Download Citation



THE rate of wear of diamond grinding on machining steel is known to be extremely high. For example, the wear rate of a diamond turning mild steel is 104 times greater than when turning brass of comparable hardness1. Several discussions of this wear conclude that it is due principally to the high local flash temperatures generated during machining and to the catalytic properties of the steel. Static experiments show that diamond graphitises at temperatures above 1,800K in vacuo, or above 1,100K in the presence of iron, and other experiments that flash temperatures of this order may be generated by machining. Hence, there is now general agreement that the wear proceeds by the graphitisation of the diamond; the surface layer of graphite being continually removed either by the abrasion of the steel or by solution in the steel2–7. However, little information is available on the actual conditions prevailing at the interface during machining. Therefore, we have studied the mechanism of wear more closely by making quantitative measurements of the wear rates of round-nosed diamond tools turning billets of mild steel under well defined conditions.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Ind. Diam. Rev. 382 (1973).

  2. 2.

    & Ann. C.I.R.P. 19, 153 (1971); Bull. Jap. Soc. prec. Engng, 7, 97 (1973).

  3. 3.

    & Sint. Almazy 4, 11 (1974).

  4. 4.

    , , & Nauk SSR, Neorganich. Mater. 11, 1589 (1975).

  5. 5.

    & Nature 255, 211 (1975).

  6. 6.

    , , , & Fiz.-Khim. Prob. Kristall. 2, 62 (1971).

  7. 7.

    , , & Smachivayemost i Poverkhnostniye Svoistva Rasplavov i Tverdykh Tel, 125 (1972).

  8. 8.

    & Phil. Mag. 6, 429 (1961).

  9. 9.

    & Proc. R. Soc. A328, 413 (1972).

Download references

Author information

Author notes

    • A. G. THORNTON

    Present address: AMTE, Experimental Diving Unit, HMS Vernon, Portsmouth, Hants, UK.


  1. Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road, Oxford, UK

    • A. G. THORNTON
    •  & J. WILKS


  1. Search for A. G. THORNTON in:

  2. Search for J. WILKS in:

About this article

Publication history






Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.