If you need to get rid of an old or broken computer—or if you have a reliable source for bulk, used computers—you can make some of the investment back in the form of recycling. Multiple scrap metals and materials are inside desktops and laptops, and you simply need to figure out a scrap removal process that works best for your working pace and equipment. Here are a few computer scrapping details to help you figure out what's inside.
Aluminum is one of the more common metals inside computers because most cases are made of aluminum. It's a sturdy, non-magnetic, and lightweight material that is affordable enough to form not only large shells, but frameworks with bays and containers for different components.
The computer case is also the easiest item to separate. Most components are attached to either the motherboard or power supply, or both, and these are the main components that are screwed into the case. Just unscrew them, slide out any attached drives, and you have a computer case that can be easily stacked for storage.
Do you need to break down the case for melting or more compact storage? Most cases are put together with either rivets or screws, so have a river remover/cutter or a screwdriver handy to take care of the removal.
The next heaviest aluminum piece is the heat sink. Heat sinks are solid block of metal—usually aluminum—with thin fins that allow heat to be transferred up, then blown away by a fan. Be careful when removing heat sinks, since they can be thin enough to slice fingers with barely a touch.
The heat sink returns, but this time as the heaviest copper component in some computers. For desktop computers, copper heat sinks are usually found in custom systems that may generate heat, such as gaming, graphic design, and heavy-calculation research systems found in space and medical research. A few major name brands are including copper heat sinks, but it's not yet standard.
Laptop computers use copper almost exclusively for their heat system, which is a heat sink and a set of heat pipes. There may be aluminum heat sinks attached to the actual computer component (processor, northbridge, southbridge, or graphics processing unit), but the pipe system is still usually made of copper.
Computer power supplies include a band of copper, but be careful. Power supplies can maintain a dangerous charge of electricity for hours or even days after being unplugged. Either recycle the power supply as a whole component, or have an electrician discharge it.
Contact a scrap metal recycling company like Gutterman Iron & Metal Corp to discuss other materials of value inside your old computers.