Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Designed to be Hard to Saw Through

The wonders of modern materials:
Researchers from the UK's Durham University and Germany's Fraunhofer Institute claim they've come up with the world's first manufactured non-cuttable material, just 15 percent the density of steel, which they say could make for indestructible bike locks and lightweight armor.

The material, named Proteus, uses ceramic spheres in a cellular aluminum structure to foil angle grinders, drills and the like by creating destructive vibrations that blunt any cutting tools used against it. The researchers took inspiration from the tough, cellular skin of grapefruit and the hard, fracture-resistant aragonite shells of molluscs in their creation of the Proteus design.

An angle grinder or drill bit will cut through the outer layer of a Proteus plate, but once it reaches the embedded ceramic spheres, the fun begins with vibrations that blunt the tool's sharp edges, and then fine particles of ceramic dust begin filling up gaps in the matrix-like structure of the metal. These cause it to become even harder the faster you grind or drill.


G. Verloren said...

Indestructible bike locks? Body armor? Are they serious?

Bike thieves don't use drills, saws, or angle grinders to steal bikes. The tried and true solution is a pair of bolt cutters, which don't really "cut" but more accurately function via blunt shearing, effectively operating much like an axe or driven wedge.

Likewise, body armor isn't designed to protect against abrasive actions like sawing and grinding, because drills, saws, and angle grinders are rarely employed as weapons. An attacker with a knife doesn't saw into their victim, they inflict puncture damage with a stab, or slashing damage by drawing a particularly sharp blade edge across a soft surface. An attacker with a blunt weapon inflicts concussive blunt force trauma. And an attacker with a firearm simply punches straight through with high speed ballistic penetration. Resistance to grinding and sawing is ridiculous when most threats operate via different methods.

What this might ACTUALLY be useful for is construction of things people might otherwise saw through - which unfortunately means it will almost certainly be used to erect harder to defeat walls, bars, fences, et cetera, with all the terrible implications for human rights and the plight of the common person against oppressive regimes and institutions therein.

That said, while it may make it harder for refugees and the like to saw or grind through barriers (a slow, noisy process that has to be carried out when guards are not present), I imagine thermal "cutting" will likely still work. Cutting torches likely won't care about this new substance, nor will cruder technologies like sledgehammer and chisels. Any situation where someone would have the time to saw or grind through something will just as easily allow them to cut through with other comparable tools anyway.

John said...

I had the same thought about torches.