Can Crusher

Hello everyone.

A suggestion made for the space is to have our own empty aluminum can crusher. My initial research suggests to effectively crush a can, approx. 50 to 70 kg of force is required to complete the crushing action. This would require a 1/3 hp motor to do this effectively (think the electric motor on a drill press).

below is a link to a video of the type of mechanism and action trying to be achieved. However with not nearly so many sprockets and dangerous exposed shear points and other pinch points.

At this stage, am only brainstorming and would definitely appreciate any suggestions, alternatives etc.

The YouTube link doesn’t seem to work for me (Just random youtube wall display - no specific video)
When I worked in the states nearly 20 years ago, we had an aluminium can crusher that had a fairly simple hand-operated single-lever mechanism. I don’t fully recall how it worked (And it’s going to be hard to describe without diagrams). Here’s my vague recollections about how it worked: The can sat horizontally in a jig that cradled its top and bottom. The short-end of the lever would approach the can “side-on”, initially buckling the cylinder and bending the ends inwards. I think you could then reverse the lever and the bottom of the long-end would fully flatten the end caps parallel with the sides of the can.
This was all made of vacuum-formed plastic and was part of the lid of a recycling bin. You could just slide your flattened can into a slot to dispose of it.

That link should work hopefully

Are we aiming for functionality or awesomeness? I’d love a rube golberg style contraption :stuck_out_tongue: something that’s a little overly complicated, maybe something that’s togglable between a show and pure function as not to drive people insane

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I suggested the project because we need to do something About our cans… We should look and arduino controll with interlocks for safety…
I just had a thought of maybe using the pistons on the do nothing machine?

Any any other thoughts?

I was thinking of a simular mechanism to my useless amusement apparatus, though I doubt it’s cylinders are strong enough for the mechanism I have in mind :grimacing:

Somewhere in my vast stockpile of junk in the storage unit I should have a 2x outlet 3 way pneumatic valve with fittings, it’s all imperial though as I bought it back when the US dollar was at parity from fright props via myus to work around their lack of willingness to ship to Australia at the time

Then use a pneumatic cylinder (of decent size) to lift up a very big sledgehammer to crush the can :grin:

Maybe is an experiment we can do tomorrow, how high the broken sledge hammer has to be to crush a tin can.

Interlocks could potentially be built beautiful by using a rotating carousel inside of an acrylic enclosure so delicate human fingers/toes don’t get pulverised by the hammer.

Then once the van is fed to the machine and crushed, the carousel advances further to drop the can into the crushed can storage device

Bonus points if you can get it to belch and bark a pg rated Bender one liner from Futurama :rofl:



sounds like a good idea, and the other think i was thinking of was weighing the cans ( i have a nintendo wii board that could be hacked ) for total weight , also a can counter to say how many can have been crushed?.


Yeah like a scoreboard :grinning:

I don’t want to sound like a Debbie downer but what is the point of this? If it is about collecting aluminium the cans are worth more un crushed and back into the recycle system for cash which we can buy metal from.

If it is about crush kill and destroy. Please carry on. I’ll bring the beers.

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I honestly don’t know, I’m assuming the later :smiley: and/or an excellent opportunity to build a contraption :grin:

I started work last night at electronics Wednesday designing the rotisserie can crushing hammer device in fusion 360

With initial iteration the carousel will be 300mm in diameter and will hold 4-5 cans. The carousel mechanism will address concerns about pinch/crush points particularly given if we go for the super Rube Goldberg and use a 200mm long by 100mm dia mild steel round stock as the hammer (that’s about 13kg of steel!). I am yet to work out the hammer mechanism

Cans will enter the device, rotating revolver style being crushed one by one before exiting via position #5 into the debre collection device

Though I do remember hearing from an aluminium smelting talk that was at the space that cast ally parts are better for melting down though I wonder how hard it’d be to add stuff to it to make it more amenable to casting?

I did a foundry practices course about 15 years ago, from that I remember that cans were not the easiest thing to melt down. they had to be crushed and then added to a pot that was already half full of metal otherwise they will just burn. Then you got a whole heap of slag as well which meant you had to add some different stuff to the pot and scrape a lot of slag off. Now once you had done all this the metal in the pot was really good but it was also a lot of work in small batches.

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hey Max,

Sorry for not getting back sooner.
hey - thanks so much for that. Definitely agree with you on getting a balance between functionality and showiness. The criteria I had in mind was the following:

  1. Needs to be safe - fairly obvious but feel the need to state this: no pinch, shear, crushing points and locations etc. etc.
  2. something that’s a bit showy a nice belt/pulley configuration or use recycled bicycle parts like in the video.
  3. Needs to be functional and not too noisy - so thinking like I mentioned in my origional post a 1/3 hp (~250W) AC motor with a rubber bedding and enclosed.


  • Paul C.

As for the why, I’d agree it’s half for the fun of it, half for smelting.
Aluminium cans aren’t the cleanest things to cast with, but they’re still alright from time to time.
I guess it’s a matter of how much aluminium can you buy if you just traded all the cans in, if you’d get more trading in and then using that money to buy aluminium then sure, this is a BIT silly, but still, I end up with a fair few cans I can’t trade in anyway, so why not?

I’ve played with the idea of a can crusher for a while, and while pneumatic pistons are probably the most reliable (, they need fancy skills like “Welding” and “Knowing what you’re doing”, neither of which I have.

There were two options I came up with, one was using the “Transmission” from a DeLonghi superautomatic espresso machine (Bean-to-cup), of which I have boxes full of the (somewhat used) things back in Victoria (from one of my old jobs). Link to image
They have more than enough grunt to snap bone clean in half, I’m sure they’d have no problem with tin cans (Or, depending on your approach, comically lifting a sledgehammer to drop on the cans)

Online, new, they’re pricey, but if my old boss is on friendly terms with me, they’re actually pretty cheap (Plus I need to talk to him about getting a heating element for the broken DeLonghi that’s been donated)

The other option was something I’ve come across more recently, 12V electric car jacks (See download%20(1))
There are numerous forms of these around, and while comically slow they would at least serve as a linear actuator with the forces needed to crush an undented can.

If someone has access to pneumatics, then I’d say that’s the way to go, but these are some other options that may be of use.