I need a little help! I have been ask to machine some track idler bushings for an antique crawler out of beryllium copper. My problem is that I seem to recall that there are some major health risk involved with machining beryllium. Looking for someone to explain the risk and how to avoid any problems.
Thanks for any help,
IIRC (pulled out of my a$$, if you please).
Beryllium is an inhilation hazard. Chips, shavings, etc. (lathe , mill, drill) that don't produce dust are just fine.
Grinding, sanding, lapping may produce particles in the <1 micron diameter, and there is a problem.
Beryllosis is the disease associated with exposure. Basically scar tissue develops from the particle. Small particles never stick in the lungs, big stuff isn't airborne. A few particles are not an issue, it's the cumulative effect.
Yes, I have been exposed, but no clinical evidence as of now, (30 years ago).
Last edited by mechanicalmagic; 12-08-2007 at 12:02 AM.
Only read about it, but basically what mechanicalmagic said is what I read, just keep th chip load up so your not producing small particles.
I took this quote from wikipedia
" Beryllium is toxic there are some safety concerns for handling its alloys. In solid form and as finished parts, beryllium copper presents no particular health hazard. However, breathing its dust, as formed when machining or welding may cause serious lung damage. Beryllium compounds are known human carcinogens when inhaled."
According to Brush-Wellman, (primary beryllium supplier), wet machining is very unlikely to produce airborne particles.
General housekeeping is also important. You should mop instead of sweep for instance. Wipe down instead of blow. Etc.
After bagging swarf can be thrown in the trash.
Google Brush-Wellman. Good info right from the source.
There are many levels of restoration work and some are fanatical to have everything just as it would have been originally, however there are some other alternatives that would never be noticed or seen once your seals are installed and given a possible long term health risk who could fault you? This discussion might be of help.
It is no fun to machine, eg screw cutting, tough stuff. I think the health thing is a non-issue, you can buy it over the counter and it is a common material in injection mould work.
The comments above pretty much cover it all. We cut and grind it at work occasionally. When grinding keep it wet and on the mills with coolant we do cut it wet but with a decent chip load cutting dry shouldn't be a problem because of the weight of the chips. Basically, don't inhale any small particles or eat off of the mill table for a while after cutting it.
Yeah what the others said (nice to see people not freaking out about BeCu). One thing to add about the mopping it up. We weren't allowed to dump the mop water from the tool room down the drain. It had to go in with the used coolant because of the BeCU.