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How Exactly Does a Scrap Metal Baler Work?

In Europe, more than half of the steel is made from recycled material. Recycling metal is a massive industry, as well as a fantastic way to help the environment and save on costs.

One of the most important tools for recycling metal is the metal baler. Metal balers feed metal and scrap metals into the baler to compress it into an easier-to-transport and storable shape. But how do these machines work?

If you’re curious to learn more about baler technology and scrapping metal, we’re here to help guide you. Read on to learn about the different types of scrap metal balers and how they work.

What Is a Scrap Metal Baler?

To start, what is a scrap metal baler?

You’ve likely seen bales of hay or straw. These are made by compressing the material into a decided shape, often a cube, rectangle, or circle.


metal baler


Scrap metal balers perform an identical task. These machines take scrap metal and compress the pieces into a single shape.

With scrap metal, this gives the benefit of compressing the metal into one body. But why is this necessary?

Why Bother Baling Scrap Metal?

Putting any material into a baler makes it easier to transport.

Think of a truckload of scrap metal. The pieces are of all different sizes and shapes, and are jangling with every bump. Some pieces may fall out of the truck during transport.

If you take the same truckload and compress it into a bale, it’s easier to load, stack, and move. There’s also significantly less risk of any of the metal falling out during transport. Not only will this save your material, but it’s also much safer to avoid jagged, unsanitary metal on the road.

Additionally, you can often fit more if the metal is easier to transport. As such, baling the metal increases efficiency.

Types of Metal Balers

Now that we understand why to use a metal baler, we can look at some of the many different types. All metal balers have the same primary purpose, but some will have different features or uses.

For example, not all metal is baled by a similar machine. Larger scraps or steel items will need larger balers, while smaller items will be destroyed by such balers.

Here are some of the most common types of metal balers.

Ferrous Baler

Ferrous metal is one of the strongest types of metal. Put simply, these are metals that contain iron.

Ferrous metals have a high tensile strength and durability. They’re mostly used in housing, large-scale piping, industrial containers, and construction.

Due to their strength, they aren’t as easy to bale as other types of metal. You’ll need a ferrous metal baler for ferrous metal.

Despite being made for a different type of metal, ferrous balers aren’t considerably different from other types. They’ll have a similar size but are often more expensive due to their heavier-duty task.

Non-Ferrous Baler

In contrast, a non-ferrous baler is for baling non-ferrous metals. These are metals that do not contain iron.

As the metals don’t contain iron, they’re considerably weaker than ferrous metals. That makes it easier for a baler to compress them into shape.

Due to the relative weakness of non-ferrous metals, a non-ferrous baler doesn’t need to have as much strength. These balers are often cheaper as a result.

Portable and Stationary

Both ferrous and non-ferrous balers come in portable or stationary models. Which is superior? The only deciding factor is which one is best for your needs.

A portable metal baler is effective for travelling to the site of the metal. If you’re using a baler to clean up a construction site or reclaim a wreck, this is an excellent benefit.

Furthermore, the main reason to bale metal is to make it easier to transport. It’s easier to bring the baler to the metal than it is to transport the metal to the baler.

Stationary balers are better for depots or recycling facilities. These are ideal for areas that receive shipments of metal for baling or recycling.

How a Metal Baler Works

Now that we better understand the use and form of the baler, how do they work?

Understanding the concept of how they work is refreshingly simple. Here are the main steps to how a metal baler completes its task.


The first step is to feed and compress the metal. To do so, balers use hydraulic cylinders and a part called the ram.

The cylinders are tough and durable pieces that can withstand the pressure. These cylinders press the ram, which is used to compress the metal together. These two pieces are doing the majority of the work.

Bale Chambers

Inside the baling machine is an area called the Bale Chamber. The Bale Chamber is where your baling machine compresses the metal into bales.

The chamber is usually made of thick steel to withstand the pressure. Otherwise, the process of baling the metal would break the baler.

Pressing Lids

One component more common in ferrous balers is the pressing lid. These work as a “pre-compression” ram that can help to squeeze the metal together. Once it’s squeezed together, the ram comes in to compress it more easily.


Once the metal is baled, the crane is necessary to move it out of the baler. Without the crane, the metal bale will likely be too heavy for workers to move. Most balers have a built-in crane, but it’s sometimes better to have a secondary crane instead.

However, built-in cranes are more common on portable balers. If your baler is stationary, it’s sometimes easier to move a crane to the baler to remove the metal.

Making the Most Of Your Recycling

Having a metal baler is integral to the safe and efficient recycling of scrap metal. Make sure you’re using the right type of baler, such as not mixing up your ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Think of your operation to decide if it’s best to have a portable or a stationary baler.



Curious to learn more about metal recycling? Contact us for more information.