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Thread: Identifying copper alloys

  1. #1
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    Default Identifying copper alloys

    Hi,

    About 7 years ago, I purchased some small copper sheets on ebay. They are about 3/32" thick by 2" x 3". I've used them for various small projects around the house and for some keychains, knife handles etc.

    I read about the dangers of process BeCu alloys and as a hobbyist, I was not aware of this metal. I have no way of contacting the seller at this point to find out what the alloy of copper I have could be.

    Is there a way to distinguish "normal" copper from BeCu alloys? This copper gets very soft when annealed, it gets noticeably harder from working but is easily annealed again by heating red hot and then cold water quenching it.

    Thanks.

    Holiday

  2. #2
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    I am not aware of any economical method i.e. have it tested by a laboratory.

  3. #3
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    Aren't there any anecdotal ways of making an educated guess, such as work properties, coloration, reactions to heat?

  4. #4
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    E.g. http://www.minsocam.org/ammin/AM31/AM31_82.pdf

    Other than that, if you've any doubts about it send some off to be XRF tested.

    However, if you bought copper rather than specifically buying beryllium copper, I'd be surprised if it were that - it's a more expensive alloy for one thing. A quick skim of Ebay suggests >2* the price.

    Beryllium dust is nasty stuff; when I worked around parts containing it, we had a separate bin specifically for it (and any parts that were suspected of containing BeCu).

  5. #5
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    PS Bond said:

    Other than that, if you've any doubts about it send some off to be XRF tested.

    Hmm... where could I have it XRF tested and what would the cost be?

    Here are some images of the last remaining piece I have. I bought three or four of these plates, all had this thin blue film on one side. They were bright and coppery looking when I first got them, but being that it was 7 years ago the patina has made it look a little paler. I think I paid around $15 for all of it. Not sure if the look or blue film indicates anything. The piece next to it is a side to a small pocket knife I am making.

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    I guess I should add that I have already made several small items out of this stuff and I've never had any bad reactions to the dust from sanding, filing or grinding it.
    Last edited by holiday; 14-11-2020 at 05:02 PM.

  6. #6
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    I think most Assay offices would be able to perform XRF, I can pretty well guarantee it will not be economically viable, if you are concerned just scrap it and purchase the certified stuff it is only copper after all and is not going to cause a great financial loss
    to replace it

  7. #7
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    The material costs are not what I'm worried about, its the processing time (layout, cutting, etc). I'm not making these items for sale, so no warranty issues. They are gifts and for my personal use. I would hate to lose what I have already invested. I guess my other question is if BeCu copper is OK for use on/in tools and other applications, is the only danger the dust from machining and processing, or is the material latently harmful just to be around, i.e. having a keychain or knife handle made from it?

    In the future, I will make sure I know exactly what type of metal I am buying.

  8. #8
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    Can I ask if you are asking where to go and for costs within the UK? I see that you paid for them in dollars so I’m assuming you didn’t ship copper to here.. I have no expertise on this alloy, I wasn’t even aware of its existence but I’m with Bob and would replace it if you are worried.

  9. #9
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    Holiday, head Bobl's advice he is very experienced and high a high level of knowledge.

  10. #10
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    Excuse my spelling, won't let me change it

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