Beryllium copper—also referred to as spring copper, BeCu, copper beryllium, and beryllium bronze—is a copper-based alloy that contains varying amounts of beryllium. The beryllium content typically ranges between 0.4 to 2%.
As one of the highest strength copper-based alloys, this material finds application across all sectors of industry. In addition to its high strength, different grades of beryllium copper also demonstrate other properties suitable for various industrial applications, such as excellent conductivity and non-magneticity.
Properties of Beryllium Copper
Beryllium copper and its range of alloys exhibit a wide range of properties, including:
- High electrical and thermal conductivity
- Non-sparking and non-magnetic characteristics
- High ductility and excellent formability with regards to forming, machining, and metalworking processes
- Higher resistance to corrosion and oxidation than steel
- Higher durability than most copper alloys (resists wear and galling)
- Retention of properties in extremely low or extremely high temperatures
- Suitability for precipitation-hardening operations
- High fatigue strength—also known as endurance strength—making it suitable for heavy cyclic load applications
Grades of Beryllium Copper
Beryllium copper is available in a number of different grades, each with its own unique advantages. These grades are classified into two main categories: high strength alloys and high conductivity alloys.
Examples of high strength alloys include:
- This alloy is the most common grade of beryllium copper. It contains 1.8 to 2% beryllium and demonstrates tensile strength ranging between 60–220 kilopounds per square inch (ksi) and fatigue strength between 30–50 ksi per 10^8 cycles.
- This alloy also contains 1.8 to 2% beryllium. It exhibits good machinability, high endurance, relaxation resistance, and a characteristic strength-conductivity ratio.
- This alloy contains 1.6 to 1.79% beryllium. Its electrical conductivity percentage typically falls between 15 to 33% (per International Annealed Copper Standard).
Some of the high conductivity alloys include:
- This alloy contains 0.2 to 0.6% beryllium. It demonstrates an electrical conductivity percentage of at least 60%.
- This alloy contains 0.4 to 0.7% beryllium. Its tensile strength generally falls between 50–80 ksi.
- This alloy contains some of the lowest levels of beryllium among the various grades available, falling within a range of 0.15 to 0.5%. It offers a low elongation percentage (7 to 17%).
- This alloy was created by Brush Wellman. It contains between 0.15 to 0.5% beryllium, is supplied hardened, and demonstrates high mechanical strength and electrical conductivity.
Applications/Industries Served by Beryllium Copper
Beryllium copper finds use in several different industries due to its unique properties. For instance, its non-sparking characteristics make it highly suitable for applications within the oil and gas industry, such as for oil rig components or mining tools.
Other industrial applications which employ beryllium copper include:
- Computers and electronics
- Fabrication of non-sparking tools
- Telecommunication products
- Valve seats and cryogenics
- Injection mold design
- Musical instruments (percussion, strings, etc.)
Contact Sequoia Brass & Copper Today
Available in several grades with different characteristics, beryllium copper’s versatility is hard to match. At Sequoia Brass & Copper, we offer an extensive selection of copper products, including beryllium copper. Our inventory includes oxygen-free electronic (OFE)/oxygen-free high thermal conductivity (OFHC) copper plates, rods, sheets, and tubes, deoxidized high phosphorus (DHP) copper tubes, and tellurium-copper rectangular bars and rods.
Copper, brass, and bronze are part of a category of metals known as “red metals”, which are characterized by their reddish tint. While copper is a pure metal, brass and bronze are copper alloys (brass is a combination of copper and zinc; bronze is a combination of copper and tin). All three of these metals demonstrate unique combinations of properties that make them ideal for use in metal sheets.
This page focuses on each of these metals, outlining their distinct properties, available grades, and potential applications. Additionally, it covers some of the key factors to consider when choosing between copper, brass, and bronze for a specific application.
Copper, Brass, and Bronze Metal Alloys
Although copper, brass, and bronze belong to the same category of metals, each exhibits distinct characteristics that make it ideal for different circumstances. Across industry, it is essential that designers, engineers, and manufacturers understand these differences to select the best metal for their projects.