A manual baler is a type of baling equipment that is used to create bales of matter that can be easily transported or stored for later use. These types of balers are referred to as "manual" because the operation of the equipment calls for a person to utilize controls to manage most of the processes associated with the baling operation. This is in contrast to automatic balers, in which the manual efforts are usually limited to feeding the raw material into the equipment and pressing a button on a control panel to activate the machinery.
It is possible to use a manual baler for just about any type of baling activity. Balers of this type may be configured to successfully bale only certain types of materials, such as plastics or cardboard. Others are constructed to work well in baling hay or pine straw. An industrial baler, as well as balers designed for farming or use in recycling centers, may be manual or automatic, with the choice between the two depending a great deal on the capacity of materials to process and how well a particular type of baling equipment will fit into the general operation of the owner’s business. In some cases, the use of a manual baler is preferred, since this option allows the operator more control over the entire process.
With a manual baler, the process normally involves manually feeding materials into a cavity or chute within the main body of the equipment. For example, an agricultural baler of this type may require set up in a field, then require workers to use pitchforks to fill a compartment within the baler. Once the compartment is full, an operator uses a control panel to compress, bind, and then expel the finished bale from the compartment.
Using a manual baler requires some training, especially in terms of providing information about safety precautions to take during operation. Depending on the size and complexity of the baler, those working with the machinery may be cautioned to wear protective clothing, especially if the materials involved in the baling have sharp edges. In terms of cost, a manual baler is typically less expensive than similar automatic baling equipment, with the cost impacted by factors such as the type of materials the baler can reasonably manage, the type of binding or strapping used to contain the bales, and even the level of compression that the machinery provides.