Scrapping computers for their content has been a point of interest for hobbyists and industrial waste management for decades. Although gold is a hot topic when it comes to computer scrapping, the metal is often in low quantity and not easy to get to. Don't give up just because the big, golden poster child of scrap metal isn't lining the boards and cables of computers! Instead, consider a few of materials that may be worth your time--especially if you have multiple computers to recycle.
Hard Drives Have Curiously Strong Recycling Appeal
The hard drive is responsible for storing all of the files used by your computer. The operating system--the environment that your click and type in for computer use--along with all of your text documents, videos, music and programs are stored on these rectangles of technology. Unfortunately, the lifespan of hard drives is a continuing analysis, but they seem to show failure around 4 years.
If your hard drives have completely failed, you can do more than simply throw out the entire computer. By taking the hard drive out of the system and opening up, you can access a wealth of fine minerals, aluminum casing and strong magnets.
Removing hard drives for scrapping doesn't require much finesse. For desktop computers, you'll need to remove the screws for the side panel, which should slide or lift off by a set of hinges and basic rails. The hard drive is usually located inside a drive bay, which is an aluminum shelf allowing drives to slide in place for securing with screws.
Opening a hard drive is a simple task as well. The drive is usually secured with a series of cross-tip/Phillips screws and a circuit board. The hard drive can be recycled as a whole unit, but you may be able to find individual sellers who want to buy the rare earth magnet clusters inside. These magnets are machine-cut into shapes that are easy to work with an may be a better buy for scrap metal buyers than looking for industrial magnets.
Solid state drives (SSDs, as opposed to hard disk drives or HDDs) do not have rare earth magnets, and are better recycled as a whole unit.
Aluminum And Copper Sources
Computers have multiple areas for aluminum and copper. As heat-displacing materials and versatile metals, you'll find the metals performing various jobs inside the computer.
The computer case is the first place to look, as it's the largest source of aluminum. Some computers may look like shiny, plastic machines, but the acrylic mold is often attached to an aluminum shell and framework beneath. Some cases may be made of steel for durability purposes.
Heat sinks are another source of aluminum. These components are used to draw heat from high-temperature components such as the processor through a block of metal. The heat travels up a series of thin fins, which are cooled by air passing through--often with the aid of a fan or other additional cooling devices. Heat sinks can also be made of copper, although copper heat sinks are often found in high-performance specialty machines such as computer servers or gaming computers.
Contact a team of scrap metal buyers to learn current rates for your computer materials and other electronics recycling needs that you may be able to fill. For more information on scrap metal buying, contact a company like Summit Recycling of Penn Hills.