Scrap Metal Shredder: How to Shred Cars and Types of Shredders

Scrap metal shredders are key in the junk car and scrap industry. The scrap metal from these decrepit vehicles has to be recycled somehow, and they often end up at scrapyards and auto salvage yards across the country. They use an industrial scrap metal crushing machine to break down the crushed vehicle and make it more transportable. The shredded scrap can be sorted into ferrous and non-ferrous piles and melted down at a mill to create new metal products.

Auto recycling is a part of the multibillion-dollar scrap metal industry. Vehicles are the number one most recycled item in the United States, meaning there are thousands of cars scrapped each year. This scrap metal can be used to craft new vehicles, totaling over 13 million cars yearly in the US and Canada from recycled scrap metal. The value of scrap metal fluctuates based on the market, equating to higher or lower prices per pound at the scrap yard.

Scrap yards are spread worldwide, with a higher density in urban areas focusing on construction and demolition. Large cities such as Chicago and NYC will have more scrap yards than a comparatively smaller city with less development. If a port is available, scrap yards tend to be closer to the ships for easier loading, unloading, and transporting of processed materials after they've been through the scrap shredders.

How Does Scrap Metal Shredder Work?

Scrap metal shredders break down large pieces of metal into smaller particles. They achieve this goal using heavy-duty hammers that spin and break down metal, effectively shredding it before discharging the remnants. Junk cars that have been crushed can be fed into the metal shredder, where they'll love through a feeder pipe into the shredding chamber.

Industrial metal shredders have magnets that separate ferrous and non-ferrous material and other materials such as plastics, rubber, and cloth pieces). This allows the scrap yard to group the more valuable non-ferrous metals for sale.

Once the material has been shredded and sorted, it will move down a conveyor belt. At this point, the operation may sort the material further depending on the end goal of the process. Scrap metal shredders are integral to recycling scrap metal so it can be used and recycled further. The processing of the metal is the first step in a much longer recycling operation.

Scrap metal shredders reduce bulky, unusable crushed car frames into easily transported pieces. The largest shredders can break down hefty steel frames, while smaller versions of a metal shredder are effective at shredding tin cans and coins.

There are many moving parts within a scrap metal shredder. Taking the hammer mill shredder commonly found in scrap yards, several main components operate simultaneously. The shaft, hammer, and rotor disc are the three major pieces. There is also a feed chute, a hammer rod, a screen, and a discharge chute.

What is the Power of a Scrap Metal Shredder?

The largest shredder in operation is located in Indiana and is used by Sturgis Iron & Metal. The motor uses 8,000 horsepower, and the heavy-duty rotor operates at 175 MPH. This allows the shredder to cycle through six crushed cars per minute, creating chunks a fraction of the size to be recycled.

This ultra-powerful shredder requires a great deal of maintenance, often resulting in the hammers needing to be replaced multiple times a week due to the intense wear and tear on the machine. This isn't ideal for many operations, though it can be worthwhile for those who need the high-intensity, high output of this type of metal shredder.

Metal shredders can run on either diesel or be electrically driven. Some systems, such as the one on the Thor 2121 K, can be run up to 400 kW without load. The lower the speed of the rotor, the more energy-efficient a scrap metal shredder will be.

What Are the Types of Metal Shredders?

Metal shredders date back to 1969. The original machine was designed by Alton S. Newell and was crafted to reduce scrap vehicle bodies into smaller chunks of metal that were more recyclable. The motor on the original machine was 500 horsepower, a far cry from the ones that run at 20 times that today.

Nowadays, there are several types of metal shredders. Different cutting systems are used within different industries.

Single-Shaft Metal Shredders

Single-shaft shredders are adept at pressing scrap metal against the rotor using a hydraulic ram. This allows bulk materials to be processed into particles as small as 10 millimeters.

Double-Shaft Metal Shredders

Double-shaft metal shredders are a popular industrial choice due to their low operating speed and high torque. These shredders can process various materials efficiently, enabling them to run at high intensity for an extended period.

Three-Shaft Metal Shredders

These shredders can run at 1.5-3.5 tons per hour, making them a solid option for operations that shred a high amount of bulk daily. The cutting system is designed using rotor blades with a sweeper shaft, which allows the cutter discs to be replaced individually as needed.

Four-Shaft Metal Shredders

While not the most common shredder in a scrap yard, the four-shaft metal shredders can crush vehicles and other materials. They are versatile and built for high intensity, which increases the gap intervals that maintenance is needed. The additional cutting rotors increase efficiency and pre-shred material before reducing the size and further processing the metal.

Horizontal and Vertical Hammer Mill Metal Shredders

This type of metal shredder utilizes a heavy-duty hammer that repeatedly beats down on a piece of metal. Depending on the size of the machine, the hammer may weigh between 250 and 1,000 pounds and rotate between an rpm of 500 and 700. Horsepower ranges from 2,000 to 10,000.

The difference between a vertical and horizontal hammer mill is that the hammer strikes horizontally on the horizontal metal shredder. The vertical hammer mill strikes at a vertical. These are some of the heaviest-duty metal shredders, ideally suited for scrap cars and other large metal structures.

What Type of Metal Shredder is Used for Cars?

The industry has various metal shredders, and one type is generally used for automobiles. These are the hammer mills. Hammer mills can be referred to as automobile shredders, but they can also be used to break down other materials.

These metal shredders work by using huge hammers affixed to a rotor. These can range from a tiny 9-inch diameter up to a massive 120-inch diameter suitable for large pieces of metal, such as on a junk car frame. The power of these hammer mill shredders also ranges drastically, from a measly 5 horsepower up to a powerful 6,000 horsepower.

The hammer mill shredder has four arms, along with the hammer. Depending on the model and brand, they can be either fueled by diesel or electrically powered. The shredder is divided into four segments: the motor, the conveyor, the feed device, and the cleaning equipment.

Heavy-duty metal shredders such as hammer mills are helpful for processing materials and can shred all types of metals, from aluminum cans to the steel chassis of a junk car. The shredders are used in scrap yards, refineries, and industrial plants.

Are Metal Shredder and Metal Grinder the Same?

No, metal shredders and metal grinders are not the same types of machine. While they both break larger pieces of metal into smaller sizes, how they go about it differs greatly. Metal shredders cut up large hunks of metal into smaller pieces. On the other hand, metal grinders churn the metal into fine dust.

Metal grinders operate at a much higher RPM speed when compared with a shredder. This makes them much more productive and able to grind the metal into powder.

Metal shredders and metal grinders are designed differently for two separate functions. They both process material, though for two different outcomes. Metal that goes into a grinder has often gone through a shredder first. For instance, one couldn't put a crushed car into a grinder without first shredding it into smaller chunks.

The size and capability of grinders vary depending on the type of material that needs to be processed and for what purpose the material needs to fit afterward. Grinders produce a higher quality end material. This finely ground metal is easily used in a variety of products. This enhanced versatility is desirable when it comes to recycling metal scrap. Metal grinders are often found at landfills, transfer stations, and material recovery facilities.

Do Scrap Metal Yards Use Scrap Metal Shredder?

Yes, scrap metal yards use shredders to process and break down the scrap. These metal shredders break down large chunks of metal from a vehicle frame into smaller, more uniform pieces. These pieces of metal are then easier to transport and sort, making recycling the metal more efficient.

Scrap yards buy from various sectors, including businesses and the public. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the sheer amount of bulky metal recycled each year, they use a metal shredder to make the material more manageable. Once the scrap yard uses a shredder to process the metal, it will be sent to a mill to be melted and turned into other products, such as new cars.

Scrap yards have two main categories of metal — ferrous and non-ferrous material. Ferrous metals will be the most common as they include metals containing iron. This includes steel, which is frequently found in households and commonly on a steel chassis that makes up the frame of a car. Other common ferrous metals include cast iron. Ferrous metals tend to stick to a magnet, which is how the scrapyard sorts the metal.

Non-ferrous metal includes aluminum, copper, titanium, and copper. These metals can be more valuable, and scrap yards will pay more per pound. Before scrapping a batch of metal, it should be sorted for the fairest price. Most scrap yards don't require sorting, and it's up to the seller to determine how to get the fairest price if they have any non-ferrous metals.

Do Salvage Yards Use Scrap Metal Shredder?

No, salvage yards don't use scrap metal shredders. The purpose of salvage yards is to buy junk cars and resell the valuable parts left in them. These components can include engines, transmissions, and catalytic converters. There are 100s of parts on a junk car that can be removed and resold. Higher-quality parts may even be refurbished to be sold at a higher price to the customer.

Salvage yards aren't in the business of recycling vehicles. Once they have profited as much as possible from a junk car, they will crush and sell the remaining frame to a scrap yard. The scrap yard is the location with the metal shredder. The scrap yard pays the salvage or junkyard for the metal based on the weight and current market value.

Scrap yards will weigh the metal and separate it into different groupings, such as ferrous and non-ferrous. This determines which metals are worth more than others, such as copper and titanium being worth more than iron-based metals. Then, the metals are run through the shredder. At this point, it can be sent to the grinder.

Not all scrap yards have grinders, but they usually have shredders. Once the metal is shredded, it can be sold and transported to a recycling facility where further processing can be done.

Salvage yards are one of the first stops a junk car makes on its way to being recycled and made into something new, such as a new chassis. Over 20 million tons of vehicle materials are recycled yearly, creating a massive industry and a helping hand to the environment.

Does Car Recycling Require a Scrap Metal Shredder?

Yes, car recycling requires using a scrap metal shredder to process the vehicle. After a junk car is crushed, it must be shredded into smaller pieces. This makes it easier to transport to a different location, whether in the same city or a different state — or even a separate country. Asian countries have experienced a greater demand for scrap steel, which can boost the overall price per pound.

Crushing scrap cars helps them to take up less space while they're being stored for the shredder. After a vehicle has been put through the scrap metal shredder, it can be sent to a mill to complete the car recycling process. These smaller metal pieces are then melted down at a mill and can be used for other metal products.

Without shredding the metal, the transportation process would be much less efficient, and the metal wouldn't melt evenly. It also makes environmental sense to process and recycle scrap metal, as it can be used for other means that benefit the environment and society.

Around 65% of a vehicle is made from steel, which can be shredded, melted down, and used to craft another steel chassis on a new vehicle. This vehicle will have hundreds of miles and decades of potential use before the process repeats itself. Recycling and reusing steel requires over 70% less energy than making new steel and is also cheaper.

How to Find a Scrap Metal Shredder

Scrap metal shredders are often found at scrap yards. These can be located near all major cities, often with multiple locations close to densely populated urban developments. Depending on whether the city focuses on industrial activities such as building and development, there may be a handful of scrap yards within the same vicinity.

The below steps can be followed to locate a scrap metal shredder nearby.

  • Search online for a local scrap yard
  • Contact the scrap yard to ask about their shredder
  • Ask the yard if they will take your junk automobile
  • Sell your car to the scrap yard based on weight

Many don't see scrap yards frequently, as they tend to be separated from business parks and housing. They can be loud due to the crushing and separating of metal, and there may be restrictions on where they can be built within the city limits. Scrap yards need a lot of space to operate, such as for heavy-duty industrial-grade equipment and storage of the various scrap metal items they buy regularly, such as cars.

It's not surprising to find a scrap metal shredder near a port. This is an ideal location for a scrap yard due to the easy access to ships, trains, and other means of transport. Homeowners may begin looking for a scrap metal shredder during renovations.