Searching For Scrap Materials Inside Old Computers

23 September 2015
 Categories: Industrial & Manufacturing, Blog


If you're tossing out an old computer, you could be getting rid of a lot of valuable materials. Different metals, minerals, and other objects could be valuable to organized recycling systems or even hobbyists looking for specific components. Take the time to look through your computer for a few of the following scrap points that could put some extra cash in your pocket.  

The Hard Drive Has A Wealth Of Materials

Hard drives are used to store all of your information. From text documents and music to the operating system files that make your computer usable, there's a lot that goes into making a hard drive work. 

Whether you're dealing with an external or internal hard drive, the main hard drive unit is usually protected by an aluminum shell. Steel hard drive containers aren't uncommon, but many hard drives packaged with computers are sent with the aluminum casing.

The weight of the hard drive can be deceptive when it comes to guessing home much you're able to recycle. Much of the weight comes from the silicon/glass-like platters used to store information. Platinum usually covers these platters in a thin coating, but you'll need to consult to specific scrap metal recycling facility to figure out if it's better to remove the platinum (or substitute material) yourself or if you should just turn in the hard drive completely.

Instead of screws, the arms used to read information from the hard drive are held in place by rare earth magnets. These magnets are sometimes sought after by magnets for their strength and the organized design instead of having to order new magnets at a premium from magnet manufacturers. You can remove these magnets to sell on your own, but check with the scrap metal recycling professionals to see how much you'd gain or lose depending on your choice.

Beware Of Gold Content

Gold may be an over-hyped recycling item in computers because of the excitement over gold scrapping when personal computers were still a new contact.

True enough, gold is used for most of the data transfer in computers. Gold traces are drawn across not only the motherboard (the main board that connects all other components) but on every device with a board. Hard drives, optical drives (for CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs) and other components use gold for the same reason because of it's medium area as a good, affordable conductor of electricity.

For specific gold scrapping, computers may not be a good choice. If you're recycling gold specifically, you need to have a good process for scraping off gold from the boards. The time investment could take you away from more lucrative opportunities since the gold is in very thin layers. There's no single amount of gold that is the same across different manufacturers, making it harder to guess at potential profits.

Contact a scrap metal recycling professional (such as one from to discuss whether gold removal is worth it, or if they'd be willing to give a fair price for all of the materials on your components without removal on your part.