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A cardboard compactor is a device specifically designed to compress cardboard into bales for storage or transport. The machine features a hydraulic arm that will press various bits of cardboard together into a square form; in some cases, it may be necessary to use baling wire or rope to secure the cardboard in position, though this may not always be necessary. The cardboard compactor can produce a bale of varying size depending on the overall size and capacity of the machine. Such units are often used in recycling plants and in warehouse settings where cardboard is often disposed of.
The specific design of a cardboard compactor can vary significantly, though most work in a similar fashion. The hydraulic arm will press the materials against a fixed surface within the machine to compact a certain amount of cardboard into a specific size bale. The two general types of cardboard compactor models are horizontal and vertical compactors. This distinction refers to the direction in which the hydraulic arm moves when pressing the materials. A vertical compactor's hydraulic arm will press downward toward the floor of the unit, while a horizontal compactor will feature an arm that moves left or right against a fixed surface.
Cardboard material will be loaded into a hopper or container; once this container reaches capacity, a door will be closed to prevent the materials from spilling out. The hydraulic arm can then safely be activated to compact the cardboard into a bale. The finished bale that the cardboard compactor will create can be quite heavy, since the materials will be packed fairly densely. Some machines therefore feature a system for removing the bale from the machine. Others require users to remove the bale by hand, which can be difficult because of the weight and bulk of the bale.
These machines are generally used in settings that require a significant amount of cardboard recycling or refuse to be transported. The cardboard compactor produces bales that are much easier to store and move than loose cardboard will be. A forklift may be necessary to move the bales once they are ready for transport; a special baling attachment known as a baling spear may be used to accomplish this, though with cardboard, the regular tines of the forklift may be able to accomplish the job with no additional special equipment. The square shape of the bales make them suitable for stacking in a truck or warehouse.