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Now in Stock: CS Unitec Non-Sparking Tools

by Andy on February 8, 2013

CS Unitec Non-Sparking ToolsWe are happy to announce that we are now stocking select CS Unitec non-sparking tools! We just received a shipment of non-sparking hammers, wrenches, scrapers, shovels, and prying tools to keep in our on-site warehouse. Make sure to check out our site for our full offering!

Have any questions on how non-sparking tools work? In December we wrote a few articles on the basics of non-sparking tools. Check out our introductory blog article, as well as our explanation of Ex zones, our comparison of AlBr vs. CuBe2, and our article on proper use and maintenance. If you still have questions about non-sparking tools then always feel free to leave comments on our posts, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on our blog for more information on new products at All-Spec Industries. Our Product Development department is working hard to bring you the latest and greatest products for electronic production, service, repair, and testing!

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CS Unitec Non-Sparking ShovelThe first thing to always keep in mind when talking about proper use and maintenance is to always read all instructions and safety sheets provided by the manufacturer of your tools. The manufacturer is your best resource to ensure that the tools are appropriate for your particular project. Manufacturers also know of any hazards specific to their tools. There are a few general guidelines for proper use to ensure your safety, which we will be going over.

In general, non-sparking tools themselves are not harmful towards the operators. The one case where you need to be careful is if any dust is generated from the tool from procedures like dry grinding or polishing. It is never good to inhale any metal dust, so be sure to use proper protection if you need to sharpen or polish your tools.

It is important to keep non-sparking tools clean in order to maintain their non-sparking properties. In particular, make sure that there are no ferrous metals contaminating the surface, especially if you are working with products that are sensitive to magnetism. Also, it is essential to keep non-sparking tools away from acetylene, as direct contact could cause explosive acetylides to form.

Many non-sparking tools have wooden handles to further reduce the risk of sparks. It is important to store these tools in areas where they will not dry out to reduce the risk of the handle breaking during use. Similarly, check the handle’s connection to the head of the tool often to make sure it will not become loose during normal use.

Non-sparking tools tend to be softer than normal steel tools, so they may need to have the heads redressed more often than you are used to.  This not only helps to keep the tool working normally, but also reduces the risk of chips breaking off during use. Also, only use the tool for its designated purpose. While this is true for standard tools, you risk damaging the tool or hurting yourself even more with non-sparking tools if you try to use a screwdriver as a chisel.

That is all for our non-sparking tool series! Be sure to leave a comment below if you have any more questions.

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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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Basics of Non-Sparking Tools: Ex Zones

by Andy on December 10, 2012

CS Unitec Non-Sparking Aluminum-Bronze EX1503 SocketWhen you look at non-sparking tools, the most important piece of information is where they can be used. The general method relies on the EU ATEX Directive 94/9/EC, which established a classification system for areas with combustible, flammable, or hazardous materials. There are two main sections to the Ex zone classifications that are laid out in the ATEX directive, one for gasses, mists, or vapors, and one for dusts.

In the gas, mist, or vapor categories there are zones 0, 1, and 2. Each zone refers to an area where flammable gasses, vapors, or mists are present. Zone 2 is the least dangerous, where any flammable gasses, vapors, or mists are unlikely to occur, and if they do they only persist for short periods. Zone 1 is if they occasionally occur in normal operation, and zone 0 is where they occur for long periods, either frequently or continuously.

The dust categories are very similar, but are numbered zones 20, 21, and 22. These refer to areas with combustible dusts, and the frequency of the dusts in zones 20, 21, and 22 match zones 0, 1, and 2 respectively.

Have any more questions on non-sparking tools? Leave a comment below! Also, be sure to come back next Monday for another article on non-sparking tools.

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Basics of Non-Sparking Tools: Introduction

by Andy on December 3, 2012

CS Unitec Non-Sparking Hammer

Starting today we are going to be doing a series of articles on non-sparking tools. Over the course of the next few weeks we will be spending each Monday going into a different aspect of these tools. Today we will be laying the groundwork by answering a few basic questions you may have.

What are non-sparking tools?

Non-sparking tools are special metal tools that are used in areas that may have an explosive atmosphere. They can be made out of various types of metals such as Aluminum-Bronze (AlBr) or Copper-Beryllium (CuBe2) alloys, which do not produce hazardous sparks when struck. However, the trade off is that most of these metals are softer than normal steel alloy tools. This means they will wear out more quickly and will have to be maintained more often.

No “hazardous” sparks? Does that mean it still produces sparks?

While these tools are called “non-sparking” you may still see sparks coming off them during use. These are sometimes known as “cold sparks” as they are not hot enough to ignite carbon disulfide, which has one of the lowest ignition points of any known substance. This makes those sparks safe even around some of the most flammable gasses, dusts, and vapors. However, always check the specs and MSDS of all of your tools and flammable materials before you use them to ensure that your work environment is as safe as possible.

Where are these tools used?

Non-sparking tools are used in any area that has a risk of fire or explosion. Typically this means work areas that have flammable gas, mist, vapor, or dusts. They are also useful in places that have flammable liquids or residues. You can find non-sparking tools in a wide variety of areas including oil drilling platforms, ammunition plants, and even sugar refineries. Anywhere you have a risk of explosion you should have non-sparking tools.

That is all for this week! Come back next Monday for more information on non-sparking tools. Have any specific questions you want answered? Ask them below and I will answer them next week!

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