What Is a Compactor Machine?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 January 2020
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The applications for a compactor machine can vary significantly, so the design of a particular machine will vary accordingly. Generally, a compactor machine is any device that is used to compress materials. Some of the most common types include recycling compactors, tire compactors, vibratory soil compactors, and even trash compactors. The garbage truck that collects garbage in many neighborhoods can actually be a type of compactor as well, since the bed of the truck will be fitted with a hydraulic arm that will compress the collected garbage in order to free up more space in the bed.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable types of compactor machine models is the home trash compactor. These are often installed under countertops next to dishwashers or cabinets. Trash can be loaded into the bin, and when that bin is filled to the top with trash, the compactor machine can be activated in order to press the trash downward against a fixed plate. This presses the garbage down and helps eliminate voids between items that can take up valuable space; the result will be additional storage space in the bin for more trash. When the trash cannot be compacted anymore, the bin has reached capacity and must be emptied.


On construction sites, a compactor machine may be used to help eliminate voids in fine particulate matter such as soil. One device commonly used to accomplish this is the vibratory plate compactor. This device requires the user to walk behind the motorized unit in order to control it. The machine itself features a broad, flat, steel plate that will vibrate at a high rate of speed as it passes over an area of soil or other particulate matter. The vibrations help the soil settle downward, thereby compacting it and creating a flat, stable surface. Larger machines can also compress larger areas; a steamroller or drumroller, for example, will feature one or two large steel drums that can be rolled over an area for compression.

Recycling plants and garbage processing plants may use a different kind of compactor machine. In recycling settings, aluminum is often compressed into bales to facilitate easier storage and transport. The machine used to create the bales will feature a large hopper into which various pieces of aluminum can be loaded. A hydraulic arm will then be activated to remove the voids from the materials, compacting the aluminum into a large brick that can be transported or stored very easily. Similar compactors can be designed for plastics, cardboard, or even rubber tires.


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