beryllium copper foil is a versatile metal with a low specific gravity and high thermal conductivity, which allows it to be easily stamped into complex shapes with tight tolerances. This makes it an excellent choice for telecommunications products, small springs and computer components. It is also extremely ductile and resists oxidation well. The copper content in this alloy is sufficient to resist corrosion by non-oxidizing acids, salts and many other chemicals.
It is also used in telecommunication equipment due to its superior electrical and thermal conductivity compared to pure copper. Beryllium copper is highly resistant to sulphide stress corrosion cracking and will resist carbon dioxide embrittlement in most environments. Its strength and hardness are comparable to steel. It can withstand temperatures down to –400°C without softening, and has good mechanical properties at elevated and cryogenic temperatures.
Other common forms of beryllium copper are beryllium bronze and spring copper, which contain 0.5-2% beryllium, and sometimes other alloying elements. These copper alloys are non-magnetic and non-sparking, with good forming, machinability and cold-working properties. They are frequently used in very specialized applications, such as tools for hazardous workplaces and for aerospace landing gears, musical instruments, X-ray equipment and armour-piercing bullets. They are also used in ultra-low temperature cryogenic equipment, such as dilution refrigerators, because of their mechanical strength and relatively good thermal conductivity at these very low temperatures.
Inhalation of dust or fumes containing beryllium can cause chronic beryllium disease, a granulomatous lung disorder that restricts the exchange of oxygen between the lungs and bloodstream. These alloys require proper handling and safety measures during fabrication, including wearing respirators when working with them.