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What are non-sparking tools?
Non-sparking toolsare tools made of a special alloy that generates a "low energy" spark that does not reach the ignition point of the gas in the atmosphere. As a result,non-sparking toolsare safe to be used in the presence of explosive atmospheres.
What directives regulate work in explosive atmospheres?
The European Directive 1999/92/EC defines the requirements for working safely in hazardous environments.
According to this directive, steel tools are considered a source of ignition and hence a hazard in the presence of an explosive atmosphere. The EN 1127 norm specifies that steel tools can never be used in Zones 0/20;never in 1/21 or 2/22 if there is a group IIC gas in the atmosphere; and never in any classified area if the tools used create sparks during the normal use (chisels, hammers, files, etc.).
How can be verified that the tools are safe?
Non-sparkin toolsare tested under extreme conditions that are hundreds of times more stringent than those that may exist in a common explosive environment.
Alloy samples are grinded at high speeds creating sparks that are directed to an explosive atmosphere. This particular atmosphere is created by selecting the most dangerous gas (with the lowest ignition energy), and the optimal mix of oxygen to maximize the deflagration capacity. If after 100 tests the athmosphere has not deflagrated, the alloy is considered completely safe.
Which are the most common types of non-sparking tools?
The two most commonnon-sparking toolalloys are Aluminum Bronze (Al-Bron) or Copper Beryllium (Cu-Be). The energy of the sparks generated by Cu-Be tools is lower than the energy of sparks generated by Al-Bron tools, and as a result, Cu-Benon-sparking toolsare considered safer than Al-Bron tools.
Cu-Benon-sparking tools, on the other hand, are harder than Al-Bronnon-sparking tools,and as a result, they have a longer lifecycle than Al-Bron tools.
Which type of alloy is the most economical?
Al-Bron tools are cheaper than Cu-Be tools if the purchase price is taken into consideration. However, even if Cu-Be tools have a higher up-front cost, they are a more economical option in the long run ifnon-sparking toolsare used frequently (due to lower replacement costs).
This is because Cu-Be tools are harder than Al-Bron tools, and as a result they will be less likely to break if used frequently resulting in lower replacement costs and cost savings over time.
Is Cu-Be therefore always the best option?
In general terms, Cu-Benon-sparking toolsare the safest and most economical option if the non-sparking tools are used frequently. However, there is one exception.
In the presence of acetylene gas, copper and acetylene react and form highly explosive acetylides. Considering that Cu-Be and Al-Bron alloys have a high content of copper in their composition, Cu-Be or Al-Bron alloys are not safe.
Tools made out of ACETILEX should therefore be used instead.
ACETILEX is an alloy developed by EGA Master. ACETILEX tools have a lower content of copper, making them the only safe option to work in the presence of acetylene gas.
Is there any certification for Non-sparking tools?
The Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), is a European Union approved laboratory to certify according to 94/9/EG Directive.
Non-parking toolsthat are certified by an independent third party like BAM provide customers with the necessary assurance that the material composition of the tools meets the requirements outlined by the 94/9/EG Directive, making them safe to be used in the presence of an explosive atmosphere.
How can I distinguish the different non-sparking tools?
Non-sparking tools commonly have a yellowish colour and are therefore difficult to differentiate. This could create problems for procurement and field teams since it may lead to the wrong tools being procured or used.
The best way to ensure the rightnon-sparking toolalloy is procured and used is to ensure that the manufacturer laser marks the alloy on every single tool. Only with such a marking will procurement teams be able to confirm that the right tools have been delivered by the supplier, and field workers ensure that they are taking the right alloy to the site.
Want to learn more?
Read the following blogs about Non-sparking tools: