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Los Angeles-based elemental manufacturing firm American Elements is doubling down on its commitment to high-purity beryllium fabrication.

Beryllium already occupies an important niche in manufacturing. The element boasts an array of useful properties. A combination of a remarkably high specific heat, good thermal conductivity and low density make it extremely well suited to structural applications requiring high thermal stability. This is why the metal is most commonly employed as an alloying agent to copper, aluminum and iron. Its low density and knack for withstanding huge temperature and pressure fluctuations has made it a favorite for aerospace and military implements for decades. Modern fighter jets, missiles, spacecraft—any object likely to break the sound barrier while remaining intact—likely incorporates beryllium in some proportion.

However, for certain other applications, compounds won’t get the job done. In this context, thin, highly purified sheets of beryllium are needed. It is for these situations that American Elements has tailored its new production line.

In addition to the thermal stability offered by the metal, beryllium is further distinguished by its lightness, stiffness and transparency to radiation. These are the characteristics prized by manufacturers looking for the element in purified foil or sheet form. The most widespread application of this form of beryllium is medical. Ultra-thin sheets of purified beryllium are ideal for forming radiation windows for X-ray tubes. The presence of these windows allows doctors to control radiation exposure while still producing detailed images, both in traditional X-rays and CT scanning. The thinner and more purified the beryllium foil, the cleaner the image—and safer for the patient.

American Elements’ new foil and sheet line will increase the company’s production capacity of these specialized materials, and it also should improve the quality of the product. In terms of both purity and thinness, beryllium foil produced by the new line could represent an improvement over current market standards. American Elements said the new system can consistently generate 99.99 percent pure beryllium foil as fine as 25 microns. Batches are highly customizable, too, as thicknesses can go as high as 2 millimeters and sheets can be manufactured in dimensions of up to 7in by 20in. For companies looking to build everything from spaceships to semi-conductors to X-ray tubes, this versatility represents a welcome addition to the marketplace.

If you’re interested in how this process relates to traditional sheet metal manufacturing, check out this article.

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