About Can Crushers

Written by ryn gargulinski
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About Can Crushers
(Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski)

Recycling is wonderful way to help the environment, even if you think otherwise when you're hauling big, bulky bags crammed with empty cans to the curb. One device that will make your life easier, and your recycling haul much more compact, is the can crusher. Can crushers are available in a number of styles, sizes and speed, with models to suit everyone from the heavy soda drinker to the recycling centre manager.


The main aim of a can crusher is to smash an empty aluminium can into the smallest unit possible. Anyone who drinks a couple of sodas a week may never see the need to compact the cans, but others who are heavy drinkers may find these devices very helpful. Restaurants, bars, catering halls and recycling plants are places where a can crusher is pretty much a must.


Can crushers are powered by different methods, but all share similar features. Cans are deposited or placed into a chamber outfitted with a device that crushes the cans. The device can be a disk that smashes the cans from above, a metal unit that gives the cans a two-sided "hug" to crush them, or a massive, mechanical chamber that crushes cans on an assembly line.


Pneumatic can crushers work on air power, just like the first subway introduced in New York City. A hefty blast of air, usually pumped from some type of pressurised tank, will move the crushing device in a quick and exact motion and crush the can. The pneumatic tube is about the size of large, rolled-up poster. Many of these machines are homemade.


Manual can crushers rely on a person's force to crush the can. Some of the manual types resemble desktop paper hole punchers. Instead of inserting paper into the device to punch holes in it, people insert a can and press down to crush. These tabletop units are relatively inexpensive and suitable for residential use.


Medium-sized motorised units may be functional enough for restaurants and other commercial establishments. Many of the basic motorised can crushers are a comparatively inexpensive choice. A common type allows cans to be lined up and fed into the machine, which crushes them in an internal, motorised compartment and spits out the crushed can below. Some of these crushers are about the size of a large end table and can be fairly quiet.


Heavy duty can-crushing duties will work best with one of the many industrial can crushers on the market. These units can run into the tens of thousands of dollars but are a must for any major recycling and buy-back facilities. Design particulars vary widely, but most run with a conveyor belt that feeds cans into a large, central unit and spits them out on the other end. Some include an automated washing chamber where cans are rinsed before crushing. These units have quick crushing times. Some may also be able to crush metal 5-gallon pails and smaller, aluminium car parts.

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