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What Is a Can Baler?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A can baler is a piece of heavy machinery used to compact aluminum cans into a single bale for transport or storage. The machine itself can vary in design, but generally, the can baler will feature a large hopper or storage container into which the cans can be dumped; one or more hydraulic arms that press the cans together; and a release unit that will help remove the bale from the machine once it is formed. The baler will be driven by a motor, either electric or gas-powered.

The process of using a can baler starts with sorting through recyclable goods and isolating aluminum cans. The cans are then loaded into the hopper of the machine, and once a specific amount of cans have been loaded, the hopper may be closed. Some machines do not feature a closing hopper, in which case the next step of the process will take place with the hopper open. The cans will sit in a chamber, and hydraulic arms will press the cans together within that chamber.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The machine may feature only one hydraulic arm that pushes the cans against a fixed surface, or the can baler may feature two or more hydraulic arms that press against each other or against a fixed surface. Once the cans have been compressed as much as possible, the arm or arms will retract, and the bale will be created. Removing the bale may require special machinery; the can baler itself may also feature a hydraulic arm or similar function that will push the bale out of the chamber, making removal and storage much easier.

The purpose of a can baler is to take a large amount of aluminum cans and create one large brick of aluminum that is convenient for storage or transport. The can baler is commonly used in recycling centers to facilitate one or more steps in the recycling process, though it may be used in other settings as well. Once a bale is created, it is likely to require heavy machinery such as a forklift in order to be moved, as the bale can be quite heavy depending on how large it is and how much aluminum is compressed within it. Sometimes the bale will stay together on its own, while in other cases it may be necessary to secure the bale with metal wire that prevents the cans from expanding or breaking away from the form.

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