Beryllium Copper Etching
Beryllium copper (BeCu) contains 0.4% to 3% beryllium alloyed with copper, making it ideal for etching electrical and electronic components. Of all of the types of metals used for etching, beryllium copper is the easiest to photochemically machine and etch. Its thermal conductivity, which is between aluminum and steel, makes it a bit more difficult to etch than pure copper. The cost effectiveness and repeatability of beryllium copper etching, however, makes it the perfect choice for producing simple or complex components with exceptional tolerances. As with other etching processes, beryllium copper etching produces parts that do not need any post-production processing, such as removing burrs, hardening, or surface finishing.
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Applications of Beryllium Copper Etching
Beryllium copper etching can be used for fine detailing and the addition of special features, such as lettering, logos, or identifying codes and markings. The intricacies of the etching process are designed by a computer and then transferred by a developing process to the surface of the beryllium sheet, which is photochemically etched. Photo etched beryllium copper products are used for electrical connectors, metal enclosures, circuit boards, and electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) shielding. The shielding properties of beryllium copper covers a wide frequency range with mechanical properties that provide high deflection.
Benefits of Beryllium Copper Etching
Beryllium copper has low electronic and thermal conductivity, as well as being corrosion resistant, non-sparking, and paramagnetic. Additionally, it has a weak attraction to magnets, which makes it an excellent choice for electrical components for electronic equipment and automotive instruments. Of the copper-based alloys, beryllium copper has the greatest strength and becomes stronger as more beryllium is added. The strongest of the beryllium alloys is alloy 25/172, which is the most available. When it is heated, it develops improved tensile strength that is higher than 200 ksi or 200,000 psi, with a hardness on the Rockwell scale of C45. As with pure copper, it is resistant to non-oxidizing acids like hydrochloric and carbonic acids. Its surface is not subject to abrasive wear or galling (i.e., wear caused by two surfaces rubbing together). The tooling for beryllium copper etching is produced quickly at a fraction of the cost of traditional tooling methods. Parts are etched to perfection without burrs or other mechanical deformities. Since components are not heat treated, they retain their original metallic properties. Regardless of the complexity of the design, it can be easily produced using beryllium copper etching, whether the design has slots, holes, slits, or other intricacies. Large runs can be processed on time and to exacting tolerances.