Picking Away Valuable, Recyclable Materials From Computers

17 March 2017
 Categories: , Blog

Desktop and laptop computers have a wealth of components that can be recycled or reused, but you need to know how to navigate through the system for efficient separation. Recycling pay rates change every day and are different for every component, so a plan for separating and saving up materials before going to metal buyers is vital. Here are a few computer recycling points to help out as you streamline your scrapping process.

Copper Scrapping Areas In Computers

Copper wiring, blocks, and coils are inside computers in small areas, but with surprising density. For most computers, the power supply is the major copper scrapping area due to the copper density used for the core units.

Power supply technology continues to change and even debate that change, so there's a chance that you may run into multiple types of power supply cores. Solid blocks of copper fused with aluminum and tungsten are in some units, while others may use thick copper coils. There are even models with a combination of the two techniques.

It's important to note that while you may see some amateur scrappers salvaging power supplies, there may be a dangerous, latent charge stored inside the capacitors. The length of storage varies by model, and many scrappers deal with computers that have been unplugged for months or thrown out years ago. If in doubt, ask an electrician to discharge the power supply unit.

Copper is also slowly supplementing or replacing aluminum as a heat sink material. Copper provides better heat transfer and cooling potential than aluminum, but is more expensive and less viable for mass market computers due to price difference. Significant time periods where the prices were much closer allowed more copper heat sinks to be made and successfully sold, although the supply didn't completely uproot aluminum heat sink sales.

Aluminum Scrapping Sources

Computers have a lot more aluminum than copper, so even if you're planning on copper scrap, wire, and block salvaging, you may as well make some extra aluminum money on the side.

The case of the computer is one big supply of aluminum, and can either be stacked or folded while wearing metal-safe work gloves to save extra space. The chassis within the outer case material is a bit harder to break down, as you'll need screwdrivers, rivet removers, and a bit of craftiness to remove some of the sliding tabs and securing pieces.

Heat sinks and power supplies are aluminum sources as well as copper sources, but another good source of aluminum is the hard drive or other storage drive inside the system. These are usually aluminum cases that can be removed with a screwdriver, and there's even more recyclable materials inside! Aluminum arms, copper components, and rare earth magnets can be pulled from the inside of hard drives.

Contact a scrap metal, scrap component, and copper wire buyer to discuss the materials you can salvage and sell from old computers.