367. Beryllium is Cheaper Than You Think


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R R Thompson: 367. Beryllium is Cheaper Than You Think. 1963.



This paper was presented at the Twenty-second Annual National Conference of the Society of Aeronautical Weight Engineers at St. Louis, Missouri, April 29-May 1, 1963. Lightweight structural materials are a necessity to meet the performance demands of the modern space vehicles. The metal Beryllium is one of the answers to improvement of the strength to weight ratio necessary in structural applications to improve performance and increase payload.
A survey was made to approximately sixty companies to determine the predicted use of Beryllium as a structural material. The results of the survey indicate that there are differences of opinion about the future of the development of Beryllium, especially concerning toxicity and cost.
Cost is thought by most engineers to be a prohibitive factor in itself for Beryllium to be used in practical applications. In this paper I will attempt to show that the cost is not prohibitive for weight saving applications for current design.
It was learned from the survey that there is no current known usage of Beryllium Sandwich, although it has been fabricated and has been tested by several companies, including General Dynamics. Testing indicates Beryllium Sandwich would be currently feasible for structural applications. Advances in the state of the art would also make this a desirable material for manned space stations and eventually for launch and re-entry. Toxicity is a definite problem and is so stated by all of the companies. It can, however, be effectively controlled.
Research has been attempted to improve the ductility and creep properties of Beryllium. Instead of improving the properties, it will be necessary to design a type of structure that will take advantage of current properties. Much study and testing has been devoted to bonding methods and materials. It is hoped that a cold weld process could be developed that would bond Beryllium sandwich without a braze material.
In order to bring a new material into practical engineering use, many years and much money is required. Strong and integrated group efforts will be needed. The companies, and perhaps affected governmental agencies, need to pool their resources for a common goal. This goal needs to be the development of Beryllium for immediate and practical use. In addition, we need to begin an industry wide effective program of education to eliminate the unnecessary fear of this material. With cooperation the very large job of communication, education, and action can be accomplished.


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