New material called 'Proteus' is reportedly the world's first uncuttable material

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,531   +577
Staff member
In context: Every substance we know of is cuttable, even diamondsā€”until now. Engineers have developed a material they call "Proteus" that they claim is the first manufactured uncuttable material. The compound is made of porous aluminum and ceramic, so it is lighter than steel and yet will withstand any grinder.

Researchers at Durham University in England and Germany's Fraunhofer Institute claim that Proteus resists cutting by turning the cutting tools against themselves and dulling them. The material is made up of an aluminum matrix (aluminum foam) embedded with ceramic spheres. It is 15-percent less dense than steel making it ideal for applications like lightweight armor.

As the cutting tool bites into the aluminum, it suffers extreme vibrations when it hits the ceramic spheres. This resonance causes the tool to start bouncing, thus "dulling" its cutting edge. Furthermore, as the ceramic is hit, fine dust particles fill in the matrix. The interatomic forces between the grains increase proportionately to the amount of energy applied, making the material even harder the faster the tool spins.

"The force and energy of the disc or the drill is turned back on itself, and it is weakened and destroyed by its own attack," said Durham's Assistant Professor of Applied Mechanics Stefan Szyniszewski. "Essentially cutting our material is like cutting through a jelly filled with nuggets. If you get through the jelly, you hit the nuggets, and the material will vibrate in such a way that it destroys the cutting disc or drill bit."

Proteus is effective against angle grinders, drills, and other conventional cutting tools. It is even effective against high-pressure water jet cutters. In this instance, the material works differently in that the spheres' rounded surfaces disperse the water weakening the jet.

The researchers see possible applications in the safety and security sectors. Armored vehicles could be stronger and lighter, or locks could prove invulnerable to cutting tools. Ironically, it could also be used to make protective equipment for those who use cutting tools.

Proteus is currently patent-pending, and the team is seeking manufacturing partners to commercialize the material. If you are interested in the technical details, they have published their research in Scientific Reports.

Permalink to story.

 

m4a4

Posts: 1,951   +1,733
TechSpot Elite
Uncuttable. Until someone specifically finds a way to "cut" it (once it's popular enough). It's how everything seems to work lol

Maybe it has a heat/cold weakness, or some other weakness that isn't stated (or found yet). I wouldn't mind locks getting more annoying to cut through, but I am not holding my breath just yet...
 
  • Like
Reactions: kimo1 and wiyosaya

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,365   +3,444
Uncuttable. Until someone specifically finds a way to "cut" it (once it's popular enough). It's how everything seems to work lol

Maybe it has a heat/cold weakness, or some other weakness that isn't stated (or found yet). I wouldn't mind locks getting more annoying to cut through, but I am not holding my breath just yet...
Apparently, some think it is only uncuttable by the lay person - criminals - using ordinary means; however, to the professional metal worker, things appear to be different. See the comments at the end of this article - https://phys.org/news/2020-07-shells-grapefruits-non-cuttable-material.html

When I first saw this, I was thinking lasers will cut it. However, I suspect the average criminal would not be carrying around a laser that would be capable of doing this in their toolkit. :laughing:
 

m4a4

Posts: 1,951   +1,733
TechSpot Elite
Apparently, some think it is only uncuttable by the lay person - criminals - using ordinary means; however, to the professional metal worker, things appear to be different. See the comments at the end of this article - https://phys.org/news/2020-07-shells-grapefruits-non-cuttable-material.html

When I first saw this, I was thinking lasers will cut it. However, I suspect the average criminal would not be carrying around a laser that would be capable of doing this in their toolkit. :laughing:
Well then, a way to cut it found šŸ˜œ

Though I would like to see a real test with a diamond cutter and coolant. The proteus bar above (the picture) is at least more realistic than the video, but (again) I doubt they were using the best methods.
 
  • Like
Reactions: wiyosaya

Adhmuz

Posts: 2,051   +843
"'Proteus' is reportedly the world's first uncuttable material"

Here are pictures of it with what are clearly cuts, it is also only resistant to cutting from a few things, not truly cut proof. So not at all "uncuttable" just marketed as such, I see now.

I understand the resistance to angle grinders and drills being a good thing, however resistant to water jets is doubt-able, and not as if someone is going to bring a multi thousand pound water jet with the purpose of attacking this stuff. Whereas a torch hot enough to simply melt the aluminum and defeat this stuff is far more likely and not impossible.

I too would like to see how impact resistant the stuff is, cutting is one thing, but if I can take a big enough hammer and just smash it to pieces...
 

ColdSoup

Posts: 80   +166
"It is 15-percent less dense than steel making it ideal for applications like lightweight armor."

Sure "armor" for safes, locks, and door frames, but not in terms of ballistic armor.

Armor piercing incendiary rounds can undergo a supercavitation effect in molten aluminum such that the round acts like it is still moving through a fluid and not a solid. A slap round would slide right through this material like butter unless the researchers find a way to drastically raise the melting point.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,410   +5,856
So if you can't cut it or I assume drill it, how would you use it? And it's resistance to high heat like a torch or arch welder? I'm sure more will come out later but this will be one heck of an interesting invention to say the least!
 
Even Robocop(a science fiction fantasy) was cuttable. Maybe body armour of the future will be better than Robocop... Now, that will be something! No one will die!
 

candle_86

Posts: 519   +384
"'Proteus' is reportedly the world's first uncuttable material"

Here are pictures of it with what are clearly cuts, it is also only resistant to cutting from a few things, not truly cut proof. So not at all "uncuttable" just marketed as such, I see now.

I understand the resistance to angle grinders and drills being a good thing, however resistant to water jets is doubt-able, and not as if someone is going to bring a multi thousand pound water jet with the purpose of attacking this stuff. Whereas a torch hot enough to simply melt the aluminum and defeat this stuff is far more likely and not impossible.

I too would like to see how impact resistant the stuff is, cutting is one thing, but if I can take a big enough hammer and just smash it to pieces...
Well considering I can take a 20 dollar propane torch and melt aluminum this won't be much of a theft deterant. I'd prefer if they found a way to make stronger metals, like mix irridium with titanium or something.
 
  • Like
Reactions: killmess

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,543   +578
So it's designed to withstand physical cutting blades but what about explosives, guns, plasma cutters, or welders/torches?
I had the same thoughts. Heat would be an obvious weakness for an aluminum product, but other things could attack the ceramic side of the mix. Particularly explosives - ceramics are notoriously brittle by nature, I would think a concussive blast would essentially powder those ceramic spheres internally and create a severely weakened porous metal wall situation, with only powder filling the voids instead of more substantial and reinforcing solid spheres of ceramic material. Interesting to ponder what the results would be.
 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,543   +578
"'Proteus' is reportedly the world's first uncuttable material"

Here are pictures of it with what are clearly cuts, it is also only resistant to cutting from a few things, not truly cut proof. So not at all "uncuttable" just marketed as such, I see now.
It's not so much that you can't start cutting the material, it's more that you can't finish cutting the material (based on the explanation of the properties and how they resist cutting processes). I'm guessing that picture is supposed to show that they only got that far in trying to cut the pipe before whatever was being used failed / broke.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,346   +5,846
I had the same thoughts. Heat would be an obvious weakness for an aluminum product, but other things could attack the ceramic side of the mix. Particularly explosives - ceramics are notoriously brittle by nature, I would think a concussive blast would essentially powder those ceramic spheres internally and create a severely weakened porous metal wall situation, with only powder filling the voids instead of more substantial and reinforcing solid spheres of ceramic material. Interesting to ponder what the results would be.
That really depend on the ceramic being used. Ceramic, as in the stuff they use for plates or heaters, is cheap and easily producible. They are also weak in comparison to more expensive ceramics.

By creating ceramics with molecular structures taken from nature, they have been able to create ceramics with the strength of steel.


That was back in 2015 too.
 

theruck

Posts: 232   +104
Vey very bad presentation in the video (music included). the first thing you see on the first picture is the cut material and in the video proving the uncuttable material is actually being cut by the disc. am I missing something or the word uncuttable has a new meaning now like it is cuttable if you have little bit more time and discs?
 
Uncuttable. Until someone specifically finds a way to "cut" it (once it's popular enough). It's how everything seems to work lol

Maybe it has a heat/cold weakness, or some other weakness that isn't stated (or found yet). I wouldn't mind locks getting more annoying to cut through, but I am not holding my breath just yet...
Yea exactly. If it is mainly composed of aluminium, surely bolt cutters would eat it for breakfast?
Seems promising for protection, but security? It won't be impassable
 

BoboOOZ

Posts: 63   +54
It resists grinders and drills, cool, but I don't see why a simple bolt cutter would not cut it. But it might be interesting for some applications (maybe safe boxes), but for simple locks and your average bike anti-theft device, it wouldn't work very well.