Basics of Non-Sparking Tools: Aluminum-Bronze vs. Copper-Beryllium

by Andy on December 17, 2012

CS Unitec Non-Sparking Putty/Hand Scraper KnifeTwo popular types of non-sparking tools are Aluminum-Bronze (AlBr) and Copper-Beryllium (CuBe2), but it may be hard to figure out which one you need. Both are labeled as non-sparking, and to the uninitiated they seem like they would fill very similar roles. However, there are a few key differences to keep in mind when selecting which material you want to use.

One main difference between AlBr and CuBe2 is that they can be used in different Ex zones. AlBr can only be used in zones 1, 2, 21, and 22, while CuBe2 can be used in both, the zones mentioned and in zones 0 and 20. This means that if you are in the most dangerous Ex zones you need to use CuBe2. The added protection is reflected in the price, as CuBe2 tools tend to be more expensive than AlBr.

Even if you are not working in Ex zones 0 and 20, there are still reasons to get the CuBe2 over AlBr. CuBe2 can have a hardness rating of 33-45 HRC while AlBr is only 23-35 HRC, making CuBe2 more durable. If you are doing a lot of work or very heavy hitting then you may want CuBe2 tools so you do not have to replace them as often.

Also, CuBe2 is made of non-ferrous components, making it safe for critical non-magnetic applications. AlBr has low magnetism, so it can still be used in non-critical non-magnetic applications, but it could damage some products if they are too sensitive.

Do you have any more questions on non-sparking tools? Leave a comment below and we will add your question to next week’s blog where we will be talking about proper use and maintenance of non-sparking tools!

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