Belgian Research Body Unveils 'Game-Changing" Polishing Technology
June 18, 18 by Albert Robinson
(IDEX Online) – Belgium's Scientific and Technological Research Center for Diamonds (WTOCD) says that after more than 10 years of research it has succeeded in developing a technology that fully automates the polishing process.
The WTOCD, the research center of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), said that, as a result, diamonds can be polished 10 to 20 times faster than by hand. A stone that would typically take an entire day can now be polished in one and a half hours using the new technology called FENIX.
Ari Epstein, CEO of the AWDC, said: “This discovery fundamentally changes the diamond polishing process. Today’s wages simply make it too expensive to conduct this labor-intensive job in our country. FENIX puts an end to this, and can therefore be a real game-changer for the Antwerp diamond industry.”
In addition to being fast, FENIX is also extremely accurate and revolutionary in the way it polishes diamond, the AWDC said in a statement. Yves Kerremans, CEO of the WTOCD, commented: “Each diamond has a specific grain, a crystal orientation that has to be taken into account during the polishing process. This grain is in part the reason that diamond polishing is such a labor-intensive process. FENIX is the first technology that makes grain independent polishing possible, and which furthermore increases the speed of the polishing process by a factor of 10 to 20.”
FENIX is undergoing thorough testing by Antwerp diamond companies. Starting in September, the first machines utilizing the technology invented in Antwerp will become operational.
The WTOCD-developed technology fully automates the diamond polishing process which has not changed since the 15th century, the AWDC said.
"In 1456, Lodewijck Van Bercken, a 15th-century jeweler and diamond cutter in Antwerp, discovered that diamond could be polished with diamond. Since then, all diamonds – regardless how small – have largely been polished by hand. This is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, which has taken place in Antwerp with declining frequency due to the comparatively high wages paid to laborers."