Proteus: Engineers Create a Material So Resilient Even an Angle Grinder Can’t Cut it

Proteus could not be cut by angle grinders, drills or high-pressure water jets. Credit: Durham University

Proteus could not be cut by angle grinders, drills or high-pressure water jets. Credit: Durham University

Engineers have created the world’s first non-cuttable substance — with a density of 15 percent of steel — that could be converted into a lightweight shield or an indestructible bike lock.

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  • Last Updated: July 22, 2020, 11:11 AM IST

In a successful attempt, engineers have manufactured a material that is now being hailed as the world’s first metal which cannot be cut. The inspiration behind this creation is the natural defense mechanisms used by shells, grapefruit skins, and fish scales that makes them resistant from the attacks of various sea creatures.

The material, named Proteus, cannot be cut using either angle grinders, drills, or high-pressure water jets. To create it, a team of engineers from the UK’s Durham University joined forces with the experts from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute.

The uses, creation, and details about Proteus has been published in a recent article in the journal Scientific Reports. It has been named after the shape-changing Greek water god Proteus.

The engineers have defined the new material as “both highly deformable and ultra‐resistant to dynamic point loads.”

While an angle grinder or drill might cut through the outer layer of a Proteus plate, it will not be able to go through or harm the embedded ceramic spheres, which uses destructive vibrations to blunt any cutting tools.

Stefan Szyniszewski, Assistant Professor of Applied Mechanics in Durham’s Department of Engineering and the lead author of the paper, mentioned, “The ceramics embedded in this the flexible material is also made of very fine particles which stiffen and resist the angle grinder or drill when you’re cutting at speed in the same way that a sandbag would resist and stop a bullet at high speed.”

He believes that Proteus will be having a number of useful applications in the security and safety industries.

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