Most customers know beryllium copper is valuable based on its price point, but what are the characteristics that make it worthy of its price tag? Below, I'll break down the unique properties that make beryllium copper such a versatile and valuable metal product.
Beryllium Copper Properties
Oftentimes shortened to BeCu, beryllium copper is an extremely versatile alloy that's desirable for many different applications and industries. Here are five of the properties it's known for.
You'll notice beryllium copper used in cryogenic equipment because it keeps its strength, even at low temperatures. You can view the tensile strength ranges of BeCu carried by Mead Metals here.
Copper beryllium alloys come in two classes, high strength copper beryllium and high conductivity copper beryllium. As you might've guessed from the name, high strength copper beryllium has the highest strength of any copper alloy, beryllium or otherwise. Its tensile strength can exceed 200,000 psi, while still maintaining good electrical and thermal conductivity.
2. Electrical and Thermal Conductivity
BeCu efficiently transmits heat and electricity. As a result, it is commonly used for electronic connectors, computer components, and telecommunications products. Additionally, the alloy is non-sparking.
When considering the electrical and thermal conductivity of copper beryllium, it pays to mention high conductivity copper beryllium, which is an alloy that offers better conductivity with a tensile strength of approximately 120,000 psi.
Is Beryllium Copper Magnetic?
Beryllium copper is an alloy containing nonmagnetic characteristics, and materials containing these characteristics are considered nonmagnetic. Due to its non-magnetism, beryllium copper tools and components can operate unaffected within magnetic fields.
The versatility of BeCu's hardness is one of its most important characteristics. The alloy can be either softened or hardened as needed by applying different heat treatment processes. Heated one way, it becomes the strongest and hardest of its alloy counterparts. In fact, it achieves a hardness that rivals high-grade alloy steels while retaining the other favorable characteristics of BeCu (like electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance).
4. Corrosion Resistance
Even when compared to other specialty copper alloys, beryllium copper ranks extremely high for its corrosion resistance.
Because it is naturally resistant to corrosion, alloy 172 is commonly used to create products and components that experience high levels of wear and tear. Some items manufactured from beryllium copper included wire, electronic springs and connectors, oil and gas equipment components, automotive powertrain components, as well as undersea and marine telecom components.
Items manufactured from beryllium copper do not tarnish easily, which is one of the reasons this alloy is highly sought after for electronic component manufacturing.
To say BeCu is machinable is to say it can be