In Waste Recycling Equipment, Getting Into the Recycling Business

If you’re new to the world of recycling equipment, choosing the right baler can be daunting. Detailed specifications for balers are available online but understanding how they apply to your situation can be a challenge. Here is some information to help you get started.

What are balers and how do they work?

A baler is a machine that compresses waste material into a dense bundle or bale that can be easily handled. and transported more efficiently. Balers use hydraulic cylinders to press a heavy-duty ram or platen onto the material to be baled inside the bale chamber. Making a bale requires several cycles of the ram. The finished bale must be tied using baling wire or strapping so that it doesn’t fall apart during subsequent handling and transportation. The larger and more sophisticated balers can do all of this automatically.

Vertical balers

They are the smallest and least expensive balers available and can usually process 1-2 tons per hour. They are “vertical” because the platen moves vertically down into the bale chamber to form the bale.

Vertical balers are typically fed manually through a lift-up gate on the side of the baler. Baling cycles must be started manually and the bales tied by hand before a final bale ejection cycle. Vertical balers are ideal for smaller operations that bale cardboard, plastics and light aluminum. They are a good starting point for anyone who is getting into the recycling industry.

Horizontal balers

Horizontal balers are “horizontal” because the platen moves horizontally into the bale chamber. They are larger than vertical balers and take up more floor space. Horizontal balers have their feed opening (chamber) on the top. They are commonly fed by conveyors but they can also be fed by a cart dumper, a skid steer or front loader.

A key difference from vertical balers is the “shear” capability of horizontal balers. The shear is required because the next load of material to be compressed sits on top of the main ram during the baling cycle. The shear blade cuts away any material that protrudes above the bale chamber to prevent jamming as the ram makes the next compression stroke.

Types of horizontal balers

1. Closed-door

In “closed-door” horizontal balers, the bale is formed by a main ram pressing against a closed door at the far end of the chamber. Some closed-door balers are semi-automatic, which means that they can be set to cycle the ram until a full bale is made or there is no more material in the feed hopper. Bales must be tied manually before ejection. Once a full bale is made and tied, the door opens and the bale is ejected by a longer stroke of the ram. Closed door balers are good for small to medium-sized operations and can handle most types of recyclable materials.

2. Open-end auto-tie

In open-end auto-tie balers, each bale is made by the ram pushing against the end of the previous bale instead of against a closed door. This allows for a more continuous process. Open-end balers have an automatic tie system, which wraps baling wire horizontally around the finished bales. These balers are best for medium and larger volumes of cardboard and paper.

3. Two-ram

 “Two-ram” balers are typically the largest, fully automated, most powerful and fastest balers. In a two-ram baler, the first cylinder compresses material against a steel wall, and the second cylinder ejects finished bales through the auto-tie system. The bale ties are wrapped vertically around the bale as it is ejected. The number and spacing of ties can usually be adjusted at the control panel to suit different materials. Two-ram balers often have an optional bale separation door. This allows switching between different materials with no cross contamination in the bales.

Two-ram balers are best suited to medium and large operations. They can handle most types of recyclable materials.

To help you buy the right baler, please contact us.


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  • Danielle Lewis

    What are “rams” on a Baler? Are the “rams” what actually compresses the material?

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