Watch a recycling machine shake apart old hard drives to recover components

The DiskMantler can seemingly dismantle an HDD in as little as eight seconds.

Traditional hard drives typically contain useful components. But dismantling them manually would be too labor-intensive. As things stand, old hard drives tend to go through a shredder and it's often down to luck whether there's anything usable left after that process. A company called Garner Products claims to have a better solution with its DiskMantler.

This machine (spotted by Ars Technica) uses a mix of shock, harmonics and vibration to shake apart a hard drive. The process loosens screws and other fasteners — no matter what kind of oddly shaped screw heads are used — to free up parts like circuit boards, drive assemblies, actuators and rare-earth magnets. The process reportedly takes between eight and 90 seconds for most hard drives, and around two minutes for welded helium drives.

The DiskManter can seemingly disassemble as many as 500 hard drives a day and only a fifth or so of the planet's e-waste is recycled. So at least for now, Garner's recycling efforts may seem a bit like a drop in the ocean. However, if the company can help to retrieve valuable components such as rare-earth magnets without having to break them down into elements and starting the production process over, that surely has to be a net positive.