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Understanding Scrap Value in Computers and Parts

Whether you're getting rid of a computer that's been out of date for a decade or a new computer that can't be fixed, you need to be aware of some of the metals and other materials that can be pulled away. With multiple components that can be different in every manufacturer, model or even within two of the same model, you'll need to take a look at the parts inside to be sure about what you're throwing away. A few recovery tips can help you find the recyclable materials and decide whether or not it's worth the effort.

The Parts Are Not Always the Same

If you've looked inside a computer before, you may know that there's a lot of material in place that isn't metal. Although the case and framework is usually made out of aluminum or steel, there's a lot of plastic and other synthetic materials in use. Before you assume that every computer has the same amount of recycling potential, pull out the components to be sure.

When a computer is designed for mainstream production, the manufacturer may have a specific set of part suppliers. To name a few major parts, the hard drive, motherboard, processor, and sound card all come from tech companies with experience in those areas. Some may be popular enough to be household brands, but others may be small factories that sell to many different computer manufacturers.

Like any other product, the design of these specific parts can change by manufacturer. One parts company may make a sound card that is just a piece of printed circuit board (PCB) with a few plastic attachments, while another parts company may add a heavy copper or aluminum heat sink to solve a problem before the rest of the industry.

Unless you specifically ordered the parts in your computer, there's no guarantee that even the same model number will have the same parts. Parts companies may go out of business faster than the bigger computer manufacturers, or a local disaster may slow down production and send the computer manufacturer to another parts company within the same year.

Instead of potentially throwing out a large amount of scrap metal, be sure to take a peek inside the computer before throwing it out.

What Parts Usually Have Scrap Material?

Although changes in the industry can change the metal content in any part, there are a few components that still include the same general placement of recyclable materials:

  • Hard drives. Hard drives have an aluminum or steel casing that protective the sensitive parts inside. The heaviness can be deceptive, as much of the weight comes from the data-storing platters made out of a glass-like material. Thankfully, there are rare earth magnets inside that can still be worth your time.
  • Power supplies. The power supply is also covered in aluminum or steel, but has a few bands of copper wrapped around some of the inner components. There are also aluminum heat sinks inside, which are used to distribute heat away from the components to cool the power supply.
  • Cases. Although many modern cases are made out of plastic, you can often pull the plastic away to reveal a metal panel. Make sure to remove any plastic tabs carefully or work with safety gloves if you need to tear away plastic, as both the cracked plastic and the metal can be dangerous.

Contact a team of scrap metal buyers like Summit Recycling of Penn Hills to find out the changing values of scrap metals and materials in your computer.