Beryllium Copper Non-Sparking hand tools are widely used in hazardous environments throughout the globe. We explore the various aspects of this alloy in detail to understand why it continues to be so popular everywhere.

The History

While Copper metal has been mined for centuries Beryllium was discovered relatively recently. For a brief history of Beryllium please visit the following link. It is interesting to note that Copper Beryllium alloys have found vast applications in various industries due to a combination of properties including high strength, unique electrical and thermal conductivity, corrosion resistance and non-magnetic nature. For example the mirrors on the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope are made of Beryllium as it is relatively light weight.

Chemical Composition

The most common composition of Beryllium Copper used in non-sparking tools by weight is as per below:

CopperGreater Than 96%
Beryllium1.8% – 2%
Cobalt0.2% – 1.2%
OthersLess Than 0.5%

Beryllium Copper is an extremely versatile alloy and its unique characteristics mean it finds applications in diverse industries. 


Beryllium Copper alloy exhibits greatest ultimate tensile strength up to 1400MPa. Of the various Copper alloys, Beryllium Copper is the strongest of them all. This makes it suitable for manufacturing hand tools.


Versatility of this alloy allows it to be hardened to different values by applying different heat treatment processes. Beryllium Copper can be hardened to values that make it comparable to alloy steels while retaining its high conductivity properties


Since this alloy does not contain Iron (Fe) it is completely non-magnetic. Hence Beryllium Copper tools are used for non-magnetic applications. Similarly, parts within MRI machines and other instruments where magnetic materials may distort the image Beryllium Copper parts are used


One of the most important properties of Beryllium Copper alloy is that it is non-sparking making it ideal for use in Atex Zones (0/1/2/20/21/22). This combined with its high strength and high hardness makes it ideal for manufacturing non-sparking tools. In Hazardous environments that may contain flammable gases such as Hydrogen and Hydrocarbons regular steel hand tools cannot be used. A single spark from such tools can ignite the flammable mixture and can cause an explosion or fire or both. Beryllium Copper tools are ideal for such applications

Electrical & Thermal Conductivity

Beryllium Copper has excellent electrical & thermal conductivity and is used in various electrical applications. In strip form it is used for making switches and relays due to its high electrical conductivity. In plate form, it is used for die casting & injection moulding. Certain grades of BeCu alloy is also used in making welding electrodes, dies, nozzles and plungers. Valve seats of high-performance engines are made from Beryllium Copper as it dissipates heat 7 times faster than steel.

Corrosion Resistance

Beryllium Copper alloy has very good corrosion resistance properties. This alloy does not tarnish easily. Not only does this property make it an excellent alloy for hand tools but also for various electronic components. It can withstand harsh conditions such as sea-water, resistance to various acids, abrasive wear and galling

Ductility & Machinability

Beryllium Copper exhibits high ductility and is often used for making springs, load cells and other such parts that must retain their shape in the face of repeated stress and strain. Combined with high conductivity properties BeCu springs are used in contacts for batteries and connectors. Further, this alloy has moderate hardness which makes it highly machinable. Various complex parts can be made out of this alloy through machining. After the part has been machined it can be heat treated and the part will retain its shape after the heat treatment.

Forging, Strength & Performance

As identified earlier Beryllium Copper has very high strength, can be hardened to values comparable to steel alloys and is non-sparking makes it ideal for hand tools. Our Sparkless® Beryllium Copper tools are in use in various industries across the globe. From the feedback received from our clients, we can categorically state that Beryllium Copper tools are the best tools money can buy. Also, from an RoI perspective even though these tools are slightly more expensive than Aluminium Bronze tools its higher strength and longer life means you get higher value on your investment. These tools are highly corrosion resistant and abrasion resistance means less wear & tear of tools.

Another very important aspect of this alloy is that it can be forged to impart greater strength. Tools forged from Beryllium Copper are able to withstand higher loads than other materials. They are also able to withstand high stress applications and are less likely to fail unexpectedly.

Beryllium Copper hand tools need to be cast before they can be forged. This is unlike steel wrenches which can be shaped through a forging hammer and forged immediately after that. Many manufacturers incorrectly claim that Copper alloys cannot be forged or that forging does not impart hardness to the material. Such claims are usually made as many companies do not have the machines or expertise to perform forging correctly. Hence, deceptive marketing is deployed to confuse and mislead end users. Please see the video of our tools being forged after casting here.

Comparison between AlBr and BeCu
Aluminium Bronze is also an alloy of Copper which exhibits non-sparking properties and is widely used in manufacturing non-sparking tools. Aluminium Bronze has the following composition:
Aluminium10% – 12%
Nickel4% – 6%
Fe+Mn< 5.8%
OthersLess Than 0.5%
It is a very popular alloy for non-sparking tools mainly because it is quite economical compared to Beryllium Copper. However, from a strength & hardness perspective, it does not match up to Beryllium Copper.
Comparison of mechanical properties:
PropertyBeryllium CopperAluminium Bronze
Hardness283-365 Brinell229 – 291 Brinell
Ultimate Tensile Strength~1250N/mm2~800N/mm2

While Aluminium Bronze cannot match Beryllium Copper in strength and hardness it still performs well as non-sparking tool. For critical applications that need high strength, Beryllium Copper is always preferred.

A new alloy Copper Titanium has been touted as the best alloy for non-sparking materials. However, feedback received from end-users over the last 4 years clearly suggests that Copper Titanium tools underperforms even high-tensile brass tools and cannot be compared to Aluminium Bronze let alone Beryllium Copper. While the properties published for Copper Titanium have been manipulated to make it seem superior on paper in reality these are meaningless given that these tools break easily on first usage. High brittleness characterizes this alloy and makes it quite unsuitable in the hand tools market. 

For more information on the problems reported by various users feel free to reach out to us at

Are there health hazards when using BeCu?

As we have seen the element Beryllium and more specifically Beryllium Copper alloy has very interesting properties that make it very versatile for vastly different applications. However, it is also well known that inhalation of airborne Beryllium particles can cause serious long-term lung disease.

It is also true that OSHA as well Factories Act mandates that Beryllium particles in an industrial atmosphere should not be greater than 0.2 µg /mm3(Time Weighted Average). However, there is no mandate that curtails use of Beryllium Copper in solid form. This is because there is no clinical research to indicate that Beryllium Copper in solid offer has any health hazards. The wiki on Beryllium Copper states this fact. Further, MSDS sheets provided by leading manufacturers of different grades of Beryllium Copper alloy clearly specify that in solid form or as finished products there are no special health risks. Please see the following links here and here.

Further, worn-out tools can be disposed of as regular copper scrap and there is no requirement from any regulating body to follow hazardous waste disposal procedure for Beryllium Copper tools. Beryllium Copper tools cause no risk to the environment either

Selecting the right alloy for your application

Over design and over-engineering are the worst sins in any industry. This is very true for designing and manufacturing hand tools as well. Tools should be designed so that they perform well for their intended application. When selecting non-sparking alloys we always recommend Beryllium Copper tools as the first choice. This is based on the user feedback we have received over the last 10 years of dealing with non-sparking tools. For certain applications, we do recommend Aluminium Bronze tools. We recommend double end spanners in Aluminium Bronze when it is used on nuts & bolts that are frequently tightened/loosened and is well oiled & maintained. For bolts and nuts that may have rusted or frozen or may not have been opened for a long period of time, we will always recommend Beryllium Copper tools.

For tools that have a cutting edge such as pliers, chisels, hacksaw blade, hand saws, etc we once again recommend Beryllium Copper for its higher hardness. Same for excavation tools such as shovels, spades, crowbars, pickaxes, etc.