Impressive! A material that can’t be cut

British and German engineers have developed a material that they say is impervious to cutting or drilling.

Called Proteus, the revolutionary synthetic material is inspired not by diamonds and sapphires, the toughest natural materials known to man, but by the cellular skin of the grapefruit and the fracture resistant shells of the abalone mollusk.

Proteus is made from alumina ceramic spheres encased in a cellular aluminium, metallic foam structure, and works by turning back the force of a cutting tool on itself. In the tests performed by its inventors, Proteus could not be cut by angle grinders, drills or even high-pressure water jets.

There’s more at the link.

Here’s a video of an angle-grinder fitted with a cutting wheel, trying to get through a slab of the Proteus material.

That’s really impressive.  I wonder how Proteus would stand up to ballistic penetration?  For example, if it were used as armor plate – or one layer within composite armor – on a tank, would an armor-piercing shell from another tank be able to penetrate it?  What about the superheated metal jet from a missile’s high-explosive warhead?

If this material can be successfully commercialized, it would seem to hold out all sorts of possibilities.



  1. If it can't be cut, how can it be worked to form shapes? Molding limits the number of applications.

    Reminds me of the alchemists' quest for a "Universal Solvent" — that would dissolve any container it was put in.

  2. Looks like it does make a cut. Just eats up the blade at a fast rate

    Does look to have some interesting potential though. Any idea as to mass?

  3. The aluminum foam matrix probably melts like butter under a cutting torch or a simple propane one, so the plasma bolt of an AP shell probably blasts right thru.

  4. Having used more than a few cutting disks I can say straightup that the initial entry was a Little slower than mild steel, but certainly not something that Cant be cut,, Thats not the best way to use a disk, and just because he was able to slow the blade to a crawl and it didnt pop thru doesnt mean a thing,, Every type of material has its own Best Rate of cut and YOU hafta work that ut,, Lemme have a fe chunks of that stuff,, It aint magic,,
    Bust thru, or just start at the bottom, with the disk spinning to pass OFF the surface and toward the cut, keep the point of contact with the material with the disk HOT, and walk that cut,, Maintaining a certain RPM is a part of the equation,, It cant freewheel,, but ya cant slow it too much either,, I can make a piece of cold roll appear impervious,,

  5. Superfluid jet of a shaped charge might have some fun with that combination, as aluminum deforms and the alumina spheres absorb energy and displace like a non-Newtonian fluid. Long-rod penetrator might get caught by the matrix and deform or break apart.

    One way to find out, but can you sell tickets for it?

  6. Yes, but he is cutting it. Perhaps a different abrasive wheel would work better, but the wheel does sink in.

  7. What scamorama said.

    Made of pure Unobtanium, and invented by the people who designed the Perpetual Motion Machine.

    Tough/durable? Perhaps.

    But anything that can't be cut or drilled is therefore impervious to being worked into anything else.
    How clever.
    Um, not.

    Last I looked, even granite doesn't qualify for that.

  8. The Monroe effect that you see with shaped charges is not exactly 'super heated'. It's more accurately described as a very high pressure front jet. The temperature, is, as I understand, more of a function of the pressure. The actual penetrating is performed by that concentrated pressure wave. The material that is cut or penetrated often plastically deforms due to that pressure.

    /mr picky.

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