What is a Crusher?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Crushers are devices that are designed to decrease the size of larger objects by using force to reducing the objects into a smaller and more compact volume. This is sometimes accomplished by compacting the mass of the object. At other times, the crusher will be used force to break the object into a series of smaller pieces.

Crushers are used on aluminum cans so they take up less space until being recycled.
Crushers are used on aluminum cans so they take up less space until being recycled.

The action of any type of crusher makes use of force as a means of accomplishing the tasking of crushing objects. Essentially, crushing involves the transference of force that is increased by mechanical advantage and thus will distribute the force along the body of the object. This usually involves placing the object between two solid surfaces. One of the surfaces acts as a platform and provides a location to place the object. The second surface is usually located above the object and platform, and slowly lowers to exert force on the object. As the force crushes the object, the upper surface continues to descend until an optimal degree of reduction in size has occurred.

Crushing is helpful in a variety of applications. Around the house, a small manual crusher is often used to reduce the size of aluminum cans. This action makes it possible to store the crushed cans until a sufficient quantity is collected to transport to a recycling facility. Manual crushers of this type are often very inexpensive, and take up no more room than a standard countertop kitchen appliance.

A crusher may be utilized to break up objects such as rocks. Crushers of this type are often used in scientific research, as they make it possible to crush a larger rock sample into smaller pieces and thus examine the content of the rock in more detail. At the same time, an ore crusher is sometimes used in mining operations as a means of evaluating the content of the ore that is extracted from a particular dig site.

Larger crushers are automated and perform more complex jobs. Mechanical crushers are often employed at auto junkyards. Once all useful components are removed from the vehicle, the remaining carcass of the car or truck is loaded into a large crusher that will reduce the size of the vehicle to a fraction of the original size. The crushed vehicle can then be recycled into other useful products. A crusher of this type is intended for mass use in an industrial setting, and normally is very expensive.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


A rock crusher is used to crush large stones into small ones. Many use rock crushers to create gravel for driveways.


My parents have a trash compactor in their kitchen instead of a traditional trash can. It is smaller than most kitchen trash cans but with the compacting feature it is able to hold more trash.

It is kind of an old fashioned model and sort of loud and slow. But it works as well as the day it was installed and there is really no reason to get rid of it. The only downside is that it requires special bags that are more expensive than regular trash bags. They are pretty crucial too. I tried using a contractor bag once and it ended up shredded. Regardless, its a handy kitchen tool.


When people hear about crushers they often think about the ones they have at junkyards that can reduce a car into a tidy little cube. I saw a video on the internet recently of a new kind of machine that shreds cars. The shredded metal can then be compacted into even smaller cubes, or it can be shipped directly to a processing facility.

The video was incredible because it looks like a ca going into a garbage disposal. The shredder tears the whole thing into a pile of metal strips in just a little over 2 minutes. Its one of the gnarlier things I've ever seen. I don't know how widespread the technology is but it might make the crusher a thing of the past.

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