Element Six opens world leading diamond R&D centre in Oxfordshire

Posted on 4 Jul 2013

Synthetic diamond maker Element Six opened a brand new £20m research and development (R&D) centre in Harwell yesterday.

The Global Innovation Centre (GIC) is aimed at exploring further innovation in synthetic diamond manufacturing and will offer a communal base for the company’s finest minds.

Science minister David Willetts opened the new Oxfordshire facility, hailing the company’s choice to invest in the UK and promising commitment from the government to help sustain the centre.

“The decision by Element Six to site its world-class research and development facility in Harwell is a significant vote of confidence in Britain’s advanced manufacturing sector.”

Innovation from the GIC will be used globally as Element Six has manufacturing facilities in China, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, South Africa, US and headquarters in Luxembourg.

Element Six sandtimer
A demonstration of diamond grits being used in a decorative sand timer

There are currently 114 staff on the GIC site. Around 70 of those are new to the company, with the others coming from other Element Six sites across the globe, with some vacancies still to fill.

The Harwell site offers a big opportunity for local engineers and scientists to work in a centre with advanced research facilities. It gives UK R&D a massive vote of confidence with Element Six having a vast choice globally of where to build the centre.

Walter Huehn, chief executive of Element Six, looked forward to the capabilities the centre would offer in meeting customer demand.

“Our new state-of-the-art global innovation centre will consolidate and strengthen our innovation capability.

“For the first time in the global synthetic diamond industry, we can partner with customers to rapidly design, manufacture and test market-ready solutions all under one roof.”

Discussing the various industries and applications using synthetic diamonds

The company uses chemical vapour deposition (CVD) which uses high temperatures but contrary to traditional diamond making processes that use lower pressures.

Element Six make synthetic diamonds for use across a range of industries including oil and gas, water treatment and electronics.

The products their diamonds are used in vary from precision cutting machinery to hi-fi speakers.

The drill bits that the company make for use in oil and gas increase penetration rates which enable ‘one bit drilling’, greatly increasing productivity. These components are claimed to be key to the shale gas revolution.