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Beryllium Copper: One of the World’s Most Dangerous (and Most Useful) Alloys

2012 July 18
by andreakbass

Beryllium copper bushings are critical components in fighter jetsThere are few metallic alloys in the world that have a resume comparable to that of beryllium copper. Its ductility, in addition to its machineable and weldable qualities, make it an optimal alloy to worked with for fine-tuned electronic applications, such as precision measuring devices, musical instruments (the electric guitar, for instance), in addition to high-tech defense and aerospace applications. Beryllium copper bushings are critical components, for instance, of the new “5th generation” F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, considered by many aviation experts to be the most advanced combat flying machine ever built in world history.

The trouble with beryllium copper is that it is also one of the more hazardous alloys to inhale. When working with BeCu, most manufacturing facilities run the risk of lofting noxious particles into the air. The dust of this problematic alloy is a known carcinogen, and if inhaled over a long period of time, can cause severe – even fatal – damage to a workman’s lungs. Since most machining processes introduce minute particles of dust into the atmosphere (think, for instance, of how even something as precise as laser engraving can create microscopic airborne residue), many machinists refuse to work with this otherwise vital and lucrative base material.

Not so at PEI. Our photochemical machining process doesn’t involve grinding, burning, or any other form of friction on the surface of the metals and alloys we work with. Photochemical etching allows for fine, detailed work – the sort of work that beryllium copper needs for most of its applications – without running the slightest risk of dust-borne toxins being released into the air. It is why PEI is one of the keynote companies that work with BeCu for any number of industries. Whether your business lies in cutting-edge aerospace, or elsewhere; when it comes to beryllium copper, PEI’s methods are a match for the means.

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