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There are many different types of shredders and each shredder is designed to fill a specific need. There are personal and desk side shredders that are smaller models perfect for the home or small business.

Tabletop shredders fit snugly on a desk to cut down on office space. Some shredders come with additional bins to hold office waste that does not need to be shredded, while coming equipped with racks to feed paper in to the machine without being guided by a user.

Shredders can cut everything from tissue paper, computer printouts, floppy disks, cd's, plastics, wood planks, and even some metals. Since each shredder is user-specific, make sure ahead of time that the shredder meets your needs.

What are shredders used for?
Shredders are usually used as a means of protecting one's livelihood. What you might not know is that they are also used for recycling purposes, waste reduction, creating packing material and are even core parts of new businesses designed to reduce other companies' waste.

Choosing the Right Shredder
A good tip for anyone buying a shredder, or any office device, is to take a minute, sit down, and write out what you will want your machine to do and what kinds of things are important to you. Here are some questions that might be helpful to get you started.

Consider:
  • How many sheets per day you need to shred?
    Each shredder is designed to handle a set amount of sheets to destroy at a time. Deskside shredders generally destroy up to 16 sheets of paper at a time, with an exception or two. If you have higher volumes of material that you need to shred, you may want to look in to the tabletop models designed for heavy-duty operation; just make sure that the tabletop model is not too large to fit comfortably in your home. Standard models are designed to handle up to 30 sheets at a time for moderate loads.
  • What type of material are you going to shred?
    Shredders can handle all types of material from individualized sheets of paper to large stacks. There are specialized machines designed with a rack to shred continuous computer printouts (*important for financial institutions, accounting firms, banks, etc). CD & Floppy disk shredders are designed to cut old credit cards or customer credit cards, compact disks, floppy disks and more.
  • How fast would you like the machine to shred?
    The bigger the horsepower, the faster the machine; since each machine handles different amounts of material, check to see how fast the machine operates in feet per minute, to ensure that it can handle the volume you need to shred.
  • How big are the materials you are shredding?
    Different size throat or feed openings are manufactured to shred different widths of material. Home shredders are, for the most part, designed first and foremost to shred paper. Some models come with the capability to shred credit cards, compact disks, floppy disks and more. There are machines that exclusively handle 8-1/2" by 11" 20# bond paper only and others that can cut 11" by 17" and higher.
  • Do you have the time to remove paper clips and staples, or do you want your machine to shred the paper with clips and staples?
    Most shredders are designed to handle paper clips and staples, which means that you do not need to remove them before placing sheets in to the shredder. As always, there are exceptions, so make sure that the cutting system is designed to accept staples and paper clips before you try and put them into the shredder you buy.
  • How much time do you have in between shredding to remove the waste bag? Do you want to remove the waste bag? Do you want your machine to do that for you?
    There are different methods for containing waste. On the low end of the spectrum, shredders simply come equipped with trash bags that can be attached beneath, in the front or back of the machine to catch the material. The next step up is a machine with a waste receptacle manufactured as part of the machine. This type of machine cannot be removed or dumped during shredding operation. The machine must be stopped and the bin either pulls out to remove waste or needs to be turned over and dumped out of the machine. Some machines come with an enclosed cabinet to hide the shredded material inside. Console models have a door that swings out and inside there may be a separate receptacle that can be picked up and dumped out periodically, dependent upon its waste capacity. Other shredders dispense material from the rear of the machine and require separate receptacles to be purchased to work with the machine. If time is an important factor, you want to make sure that the method of waste disposal is simple, fast and easy.
  • Does the machine specifically shred the material you are shredding? Does it come with additional safety guards (especially important if you have young children)? Is there a cover that forms over the machine?
    Shredders are designed with the utmost user safety in mind. The largest safety concern when buying a shredder for the home is making sure that it is designed for the applications you intend to use it. If you are shredding cd's, one thing you definitely don't want is pieces shooting out of the top because you wanted to save money and buy a paper shredder to shred cd's, instead of a specially designed cd shredder. Some machines come with added shields or guards to ensure optimum safety. If you have young children in the home you'll want to make sure that the machine you buy comes with guards and covers to avoid accidents before they happen. The cutting mechanism is usually enclosed within the machine, but hand guards add another level of protection; so you can stop accidents before they happen.
  • How much space do you have for the machine?
    If you live in an apartment or home, you want to make sure that the machine you're buying will fit in through the door structure, elevator or other entry way. You need to know the size of the machine and its weight to make sure that it accommodates your home. If you have to carry it up 10 flights of stairs, you want to make sure it can easily be carried.
  • Are you buying a shredder to protect your financial documents and account statements?
    Each machine has a different shred size for separate levels of security. The smaller the shred size, the more secure the document; an important decision when your identity and livelihood are encased within the material you want to shred.
  • Do you have recycling requirements that you need to meet? Do you want to make sure your company or home is meeting environmental requirements for paper destruction? Were you always health conscious and want to make sure shredded material is re-used as packing material or to line animal cages?
    Shredded material can be re-used to line animal cages, be used as packing material and more. Once the material has been shredded, remove it from the bin and place it in boxes, crates and more to protect dishes and other household objects for storage. Best yet, you won't feel guilty about throwing out high volumes of material if you find use for it once it has been destroyed.
Types of Shredders
  • Deskside
    Deskside shredders (also known as personal shredders) are small, compact machines designed to sit next to or on top of a table or desk. The weight of this type of shredder is under 50 pounds, which makes them great models for the home. They all have relatively the same high grade cutting mechanism to cut sheets of paper down to the desired shred size. The feed is under 9-1/2 inches. Deskside models are introductory shredders for any home office or small business.
  • Standard
    Standard shredders are categorized together because they represent what a person usually thinks of when they hear the word "shredder". They provide an efficient means to maintain security in a larger size machine. These models usually come as the "standard" console model, but some machines may vary. They are equipped with a feed from 9 to 11 inches and can handle up to 30 sheets of paper at a time. These machines weigh between 50 and 115 pounds.
  • Tabletop
    Tabletop shredders are an excellent option for individuals who need to shred large volumes of material, but may be concerned about space. These models have a unique design that allows them to sit on top of a desk or table. These models usually pour material in to a front mounted bag or bin, dependant upon each machine, for easy waste removal; they can even work with your current trash bags. They are equipped with many of the same functionalities and durability of the larger models, but can be easily moved around or can mount anywhere, making them great for travel. Some come with fold up stands that allow you to precisely place the machine within the home. As with all shredders, different machines were designed for different functions and some tabletop shredders could very well be industrial-sized.
Be sure to match your needs to the features of the shredder.

Glossary
  • Bin: Waste basket.
  • Cross Cut: Cuts paper in to confetti-like pieces of material leftover once the material has been shredded. Provides more security than strip cut.
  • Cutting Head: The mechanism inside the shredder opening that tears in to cut the material.
  • D.O.D.: Department of Defense. Machines can be approved for use by governmental agencies, armed forces, high security bases, politicians and their governmental offices, NASA, etc. D.O.D means the shred size has been approved by the Department of Defense for national security shredding. The standard shred size for a machine to be considered D.O.D. is 1/32" by 7/16". A machine can have the D.O.D. shred size, but not be approved by the Department of Defense. Any questions on whether a machine has been approved or not can be directed to the sales force at MachineAdvantage.
  • EDP Rack/ Computer Forms Rack: Rack that is either mountable or already mounted on to the machine. Usually used for continuous computer forms with perforated edges or extra wide computer forms. The rack allows for continuous (attached) forms to be fed in to the shredder without the user's assistance, also known as hands-free shredding.
  • Horsepower: The more horsepower a machine has the larger the capacity it will be able to handle.
  • Microfiche: A card or sheet of microfilm capable of accommodating and preserving a considerable number of pages in a reduced format.
  • Particle Cut: Maximum-security granular pieces that almost sift like flour through your hands; the smallest cut in shredding operations. The shred size in a particle cut cannot be measured because the size varies.
  • Sheet Capacity: The maximum number of sheets the shredder could process in one pass.
  • Shred Size: The size of the shred after the paper has passed the cutting heads or the size of the left-over material.
  • Shred Speed (ft/min): How many minutes it would take to shred a ten-foot (by X wide) length of paper.
  • Strip Cut: Cuts paper in to long strips or long lengths of paper. The smaller the cut, the greater the security.
  • Thermal Protection: Machine is protected against overheating.
  • Throat Opening/ Feed: Opening through which paper is inserted in to the shredder.