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Nonsparking Tools Technical Information

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Basics of... Nonsparking Tools

Nonsparking tools are recommended for use in hazardous environments where flammable or combustible vapors, liquids, dusts or residues are present. Ordinary hand tools are usually made of steel, which can cause sparks if struck, scraped, or dropped. This can be disastrous in an explosive atmosphere. Tools used in a hazardous material applications MUST be constructed of nonsparking, nonferrous, nonmagnetic corrosion resistant metals. Caution: these tools are not classified as anti-static because they DO conduct electricity. Certain chemicals such as amatol and similar liquid gases may react with copper alloys to form metalloids which would negate the nonsparking properties of the alloys. Do not use high copper content tools in direct contact with acetylene due to the possible formation of explosive acetylides, especially in the presence of moisture.

In general, Nonsparking Tools should be used in any environment where ignition sources are a concern. Applications include, but not limited to:

  • Maintenance and Repair Operations (MRO)
  • Collection, Holding and Transfer (CHT)
  • Military
  • Work in Confined Space
  • Hot Work (all heat, spark or flame producing operations)
  • Transportation (airports, railroads, tanker trucks, shipyards), Chemical, Petrochemical and Gas Operations
  • City, state and Federal Governments (utilities, waste management, Hazmat, WMD)
  • General Dust Environments (grain, mining, paper/pulp mills)

Nonsparking tools are made from aluminum bronze, beryllium copper and other copperbased alloys. Aluminum bronze has high strength for torque and impact situations. The Brinell hardness is 200 to 350 with a tensile strength of 95,000 to 150,000 psi. In most cases, tools are beryllium free. Beryllium copper has maximum strength for torque and impact situations. It contains 2% beryllium and is suitable for tools with gripping teeth or cutting edges. The Brinell hardness is 332 to 430 with a tensile strength of 200,000 psi.

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