Beryllium copper (BeCu), also known as copper beryllium (CuBe), beryllium bronze and spring copper, is a copper alloy with 0.5—3% beryllium and sometimes other elements. Beryllium copper combines high strength with non-magnetic and non-sparking qualities. It has excellent metalworking, forming and machining properties. It has many specialized applications in tools for hazardous environments, musical instruments, precision measurement devices, bullets, and aerospace. Beryllium alloys present a toxic inhalation hazard during manufacture.
Beryllium copper is a non-ferrous alloy used in springs, spring wire, load cells, and other parts that must retain their shape under repeated stress and strain. It has high electrical conductivity, and is used in low-current contacts for batteries and electrical connectors.
Beryllium copper is non-sparking but physically tough and nonmagnetic, fulfilling the requirements of ATEX directive for Zones 0, 1, and 2. Beryllium copper screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, cold chisels, knives, and hammers are available for environments with explosivehazards, such oil rigs, coal mines, and grain elevators. An alternative metal sometimes used for non-sparking tools is aluminium bronze. Compared to steel tools, beryllium copper tools are more expensive, not as strong, and less durable, but the properties of beryllium copper in hazardous environments may outweigh the disadvantages.
Beryllium copper is used in ultra-low temperature cryogenic equipments, such as dilution refrigerators, because of its mechanical strength and relatively high thermal conductivity in this temperature range.
Beryllium copper is used for measurement-while-drilling (MWD) tools in the directional drilling industry. A non-magnetic alloy is required, as magnetometers are used for field-strength data received from the tool.
For a time, beryllium copper was used in the manufacture of golf clubs, particularly wedges and putters. Though some golfers prefer the feel of BeCu club heads, regulatory issues and high costs have made BeCu clubs difficult to find in current production.
Kiefer Plating (now long gone) of Elkhart, Indiana built some beryllium-copper trumpet bells for the Schilke Music Co. of Chicago. These light-weight bells produce a sound preferred by some musicians.
Beryllium copper wire is produced in many forms: round, square, flat and shaped, in coils, on spools and in straight lengths.
Beryllium copper valve seats and guides are used in high performance four-stroke engines with coated titanium valves. BeCu dissipates heat from the valve as much as 7 times faster than powdered steel or iron seats & guides. The softer BeCu reduces wear on the valves and increases valve life.