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Finding Scrap Metal And Other Materials In Computers

Whether you're junking an old computer or getting rid of a newer system, there's a wealth of materials inside that could bring a decent pay rate at a recycling center or from hobbyists looking for certain components. Before throwing out the entire system, take a look at a few areas that are relatively easy to access in a computer already destined for the scrap heap.

Aluminum Sources In Ample Supply

Aluminum is one of the first metals you'll encounter when taking the computer apart. Even shiny computers with plastic or acrylic cases have aluminum underneath to provide structure and sturdiness. The panels used for the case can be taken off and even bent for easier storage.

Beneath the case is an aluminum framework, which may be harder to bend because of the folded support beams and corners. A saw or rough work with a hammer may have a better time breaking down the case, but if you're scrapping multiple computers, it may be better to simply stack the cases for later use as containers for the other materials. Some frames may include or be completely made of steel if the computer was used for industrial or field military purposes (office military computers will still likely be made of standard aluminum from general vendors).

Another source of aluminum is the heat sink, which is a solid block of metal with thin fins on the surface. Copper is another material used for heat sinks, although copper heat sinks are often found in custom machines and purchased aftermarket, which would make them more valuable to sell as a whole product. Be careful when handling heat sinks, as the fins can slice skin easily due to the thin, machine-assisted cut.

Hard Drive Scrap Materials

Aluminum and steel can each form the hard drive's case. It doesn't matter if the hard drive is labeled as internal or external, as external hard drives are simply internal hard drives covered in a case with a circuit board that basically allows quick connecting without reaching inside the system.

The salvage weight of the hard drive can be deceptive. Although there are valuable materials outside and inside of the hard drive, a lot of the weight comes from the platter. The platters were once made of aluminum or glass substrates, but glass and other silicon-based platters may be more prevalent in modern hard drives. The shiny material that looks like metal is actually a thin coating that isn't worth removing unless you're certain the manufacturer used metal for that specific model.

There are magnets inside hard drives that can make up for the scrap disappointment from the platters. Rare earth magnets such as neodymium can be removed from hard drives and either sent to scrap metal centers or sold to hobbyists looking for the sleek, machine-cut, small magnets for their projects. Finding a buyer can be difficult, so be sure to contact a scrap metal professional to discuss current rates for the magnets and all metals inside your computers.