What Is a Scrap Baler?

Dan Cavallari

A scrap baler is a machine used to compress materials into a block form for storage or transportation. This machine can be used to compress a wide variety of materials, and the manufacturer will generally specify which materials can be compressed with a certain machine and which materials cannot. A scrap baler may be designed to accommodate one specific material, such as rubber car tires, or it may be designed to accommodate a wide range of materials such as metals, rubber tires, cardboard, plastics, and more. The machine should only be used in accordance with its manufacturer specifications to avoid injury or damage to the machine.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The specific design of the scrap baler can vary significantly depending on the types of materials it is intended to compress. The general function, however, remains the same: raw materials are loaded into a hopper or chamber, and a hydraulic press will be activated to compress materials into a specific shape. When the arm is activated and the load is at its most compressed, it may be necessary to secure metal wires to the load so the bale will not decompress when the hydraulic arm is retracted. This is usually necessary for rubber tires, but it may not be necessary for metals and some plastics.

Once the bale is formed, the scrap baler may feature another hydraulic arm, or some other type of system, that will press the bale out of the machine. This is necessary because the bale can be exceptionally heavy, and removing it manually from the machine may not be possible. The scrap baler will therefore eliminate the need for manual removal, though once the bale is outside of the machine, it will probably require transport using another piece of heavy machinery such as a forklift or other machine outfitted with a grappling hook or bale spear.

The reasons for using a scrap baler can vary. In many cases, the machine is used to compact loose material in preparation for storage or transport. Tires may be baled for the same reasons, but additionally, the tires may be baled to prevent build-up of stagnant water in a tire storage area. Baling the tires will also help reduce the likelihood of fire, which is important because tire fires are extremely difficult to control and may not be able to be extinguished. Recycling plants often use balers to compress materials in preparation for latter phases of the recycling process.

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