Scrap Metal Sources inside Computers

Posted on: 14 September 2015

Although computers are becoming more affordable in relation to their power as the years go by, the materials inside are still quite valuable. Gold for transferring data, magnets for holding information together, and aluminum for various purposes can be found in almost any modern computer. If you're throwing out an outdated system or replacing a broken system, take time to look through a few different parts of the computer to find valuable materials for scrap recycling.

Aluminum Sources Come from Protective Areas

As a sturdy, lightweight structural material, aluminum can be found in different parts designed to protect computer components from harm.

One major aluminum source is the case itself. Although many modern computers use an acrylic mold on the outside of the computer for cosmetic purposes, there is often a aluminum (or steel) case beneath that can be removed with the right knowledge.

Every computer is different, but many cosmetic case additions can be removed by locating the securing tabs and sliding them off carefully. If you're unable to find them or need to remove the plastic in a hurry, take personal safety precautions when ripping off the case covering. Wear safety gloves and eye protection in case of flying plastic.

Another source of aluminum is the hard drive. To protect the sensitive internal components, an airtight seal of thick aluminum is held together with screws and adhesive. A basic screwdriver set should allow you to take the hard drive apart to get the aluminum without throwing away other valuable materials inside.

Copper from Coils and Heat Sinks

Copper is in no short supply within computers, although the major copper may be hard to get to.

The power supply has a core made out of various materials, but is often wrapped in thick, copper coils. Although the power supply is held together as a box with screws, there is a life-threatening electrical danger if you're not able to professionally discharge the power supply.

Power supplies can store a charge within their capacitors for days if not discharged, and you'll need a certified electrician to discharge it properly. If you're able to discharge the power supply, you can remove the different scrap pieces for individual scrap metal piles if you'd like. Otherwise, turn in the power supply for bulk recycling.

Another copper source once was only an aluminum source—the heat sink. It's possible to find aluminum and copper heat sinks in different modern computers, but either metal source can be worth your time to remove and save.

Be careful when removing heat sinks of any type, as the fins can be quite sharp. 

If you need to figure out current recycling rates or would like help with removing certain scrap components, contact a scrap metal professional at a buisness like Recycling Center Inc.