Water jets can cut pretty much anything – that’s been a recurring theme of these blogs, we may have bored you with the message.
However, we have recently discovered something that water jets cannot cut. In fact, it is a material specifically designed so water jets cannot cut it.
Why would anyone do this? We had to find out more…
We have always resigned ourselves to there being a few things our water jets cannot cut.
Diamonds top the list. If you happen to have a quantity of diamonds to be cut, sadly you will need to send them elsewhere.
Tempered glass is also often problematic.
Beyond that, there really isn’t much. A water jet can cut through metal – thick sheets of metal, it can cut through glass, ceramics, plastics and more.
Actually – it can do all this once an abrasive has been mixed into the water jet, but the importance of the garnet is the subject of another blog. Specifically, this one
The new material which we can’t cut is an artificial material in which ceramic spheres are embedded within aluminium foam.
It has been dubbed ‘Proteus’ – this after the shape shifting Greek God.
We say we can’t cut it, but actually we haven’t actually managed to get our hands on any yet. Still, it has been tested by other respected water jet cutters so there is no reason to doubt the claim.
The creation of the new product poses two key questions. How and why. Let’s look at both.
A diamond cannot be cut simply because it has so hard a surface – as is well known, diamond is the hardest material that exists naturally.
The new material does not repel a water jet through being too hard, instead it turns a force back on itself.
Designers included the embedded ceramic spheres for a reason, they create vibrations during the cutting process that disrupts the cut.
For a mechanical cutting force such as a grinder, this destroys the cutting blade. Clearly, you cannot destroy a jet of water, instead it widens the spray significantly to a point that it no longer has the power to cut.
The targeted cutting beam becomes a very strong shower.
“It actually destroys the cutting blade through the sideways jerky vibrations that it creates, or it widens the water jet’s spray,” Miranda Anderson at the University of Stirling told New Scientist.
The material also has a second line of defence, any attempt to cut it breaks the ceramic spheres into smaller fragments that act like sandpaper.
In trials, while an angle grinder took 45 seconds to cut through steel armour, the Proteus rendered the grinder inoperative.
Why Create An Uncuttable Material?
You may imagine the material has been created to ensure it cannot wear – perhaps as part of a plane, or for a critical part.
Actually, that isn’t the case. Standard water erosion is not often a concern, water jets could not be further removed from the gentle impact of more natural impact from water.
Instead, the material exists as a security measure and an anti-theft device.
Imagine a bike lock. Often these can be broken, in many cases quite easily – through cutters, a grinder or a water jet. A lock made of this Proteus could not be cut in any of these ways, it would resist the outside force.
Admittedly, not many common bike thieves have a water jet about their person, but the material will escalate up to far larger applications. It could secure the entrance to a building or make an amazing barrier – even for anti riot or national security defences.
For workers too, Proteus could be made into elbow pads or protective areas for shoes – protecting any part of the body from potentially major injury.
To find out more about this fascinating project, please head over to the New Scientist site.
At TMC, we are a water jet cutter who serve the whole of the UK and increasingly Europe too, with clients across the content trusting us to work on their projects.
Despite our success, we remain a company that focusses on every client and work on projects of all sizes.
If you think water jet cutting might be of use for your project, please do get in touch for an obligation-free chat.
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