Copper and its Alloys

In the fully heat treated and cold worked condition beryllium copper is the hardest (HV 100-420) and strongest (tensile strength 410-1400 N/mm2) of any copper alloy.

It is similar in mechanical properties to many high strength steels but, compared to steels, it has better corrosion resistance (approximately equivalent to nickel silvers), higher electrical conductivity (16-65% IACS) and higher thermal conductivity (210W/moC).  It is also non-sparking and non-magnetic.  Beryllium copper should only be specified where its unique combination of properties can be fully exploited.

Applications

Beryllium copper has long been used for non-sparking tools in the mining, gas and petrochemical industries.

Because of the excellent fatigue resistance, beryllium copper is widely used for springs, pressure responsive diaphragms, flexible bellows, connectors, contacts and relays, which are all subject to cyclical loading.

The anti-galling, strength and good corrosion resistance led to the widespread use of beryllium copper for down-hole drilling tools for the oil and gas industry.

Miniaturisation

Smaller component size has become the main design criterion in the telecommunications and computer electronics markets.  Companies are constantly looking for ways to reduce the size and weight of their products, such as mobile phones, iPads, tablets and lap-tops, without sacrificing performance.  The unique combination of strength, electrical and thermal conductivity of beryllium copper make it an ideal choice for miniaturised components in the above applications.

Forms

The main product forms for beryllium copper are sheet, strip, wire, rod, tube and forgings.  Castings are available.

Health and Safety

The inhalation of beryllium in a finely divided form can cause a serious lung condition in some individuals.  Precautions must therefore be taken in melting, casting, machining and welding of beryllium copper.  However, in service beryllium copper is perfectly safe to handle and use.
Related ResourcesHere are related resources.  To browse and search all resources, visit the Resource Library.
    Pub 206 - Copper Alloys in Marine Environments
    £ 0.00
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, beryllium, brass, bronze, copper-nickel, corrosion, marine, property, resistance, seawater
    This publication focuses on the properties and corrosion resistance of a wide range of copper alloys used for seawater service - ranging from commercial grades of copper through copper-nickels, bronze,  brass and copper beryllium.  It allows the reader to understand potential types of corrosion mechanisms for the different alloy types and how to avoid them. 2012. 32pp.
    Pub 120 - Copper and Copper Alloys: Compositions, Applications and Properties
    £ 0.00
    Design and manufacture
    alloys, beryllium, brass, bronze, copper-nickel, coppers, Industry, manufacturing, nickel silver, property, standards
    Tables of BS EN series of standards with ranges of compositions and properties for coppers and copper alloys and equivalent old British Standard materials. Revision of TN10. 2004. 26pp.
    Pub 104 - Copper-Beryllium Health and Safety Notes
    beryllium, alloys, health, safety
    Guidance notes for users of copper beryllium products. 1994. 2pp
    Pub 054 - Beryllium Copper
    Design and manufacture
    beryllium, alloys, applications, Industry, manufacturing, property
    This booklet focuses on the properties, applications and practical manipulation of copper beryllium and covers precipitation hardening, to which beryllium copper owes its high strength and hardness. 1962. 50pp.

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Beryllium copper components (Courtesy Brush Wellman)
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