I want to use a 12v dc actuator to make a can crusher.


Joined Jul 18, 2013
There are quite a few on ebay for DC motor controllers, one or two offer bi-directional, otherwise you would need to do the motor lead reversal.


Joined Nov 4, 2013
If it was me I would either use current sensing or load sensing spring to trigger the reversing action that way whenever the actuator loads up it trips the reversing relay and start the cycle going the other direction.

If you want to run it off of 120 VAC line power just buy a 120 VAC powered linear actuator. No point in over complicating this. :rolleyes:

As for crushing power I am ~260#'s and if I stand on a board to crush a can my dead weight can gt one smashed down to ~1/8" - 3/16" most times. Ideally I would prefer to be able to put at least 500 #'s down though. 2000 - 4000 #'s maximum! :D


Joined Mar 31, 2012
Feel free to call or text if easier .

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Joined May 4, 2013
How much force to crush a can? With a stabilizing board on top of a can to insure a flat contact, with a 5 gal. bucket centered over can, filled with water to about 2/3 full & added another bucket & filled until can shrunk
by 1 in. Total weight 49 lb. Looks like 110 lb. actuator should do. The expensive model comes with a slide pot. for which I see no need as cheap ?? one for $ 10 less has top & bottom limit switches.
The can is hard to crush if the can is in perfect condition and the applied force is applied exactly on axis. The smallest dimple in the side of the can reduces the force dramatically.

Consider this dangerous experiment: Carefully stand on a can that does not have an imperfection. The can will likely support your weight if your weight is straight down on the can. Now, take your toe from your other foot and touch the side of the can. The can will immediately collapse.


Joined Jun 26, 2012
However you do it, make sure to use interlock switches that are located such that you need both hands out of the way to actuate them to run the crush cycle.


Joined May 19, 2014
How many cans do you foresee crushing per week, per month, per year?
The reason I am asking is it is hard for me to see how the slow motion (linear actuator) can crusher would be of any value. You could have the local foot ball team or scouts, stomp crush them at a penny a can and everyone would be way ahead.

Is this a business you want to get into or a product you want to sell??


Thread Starter


Joined Feb 9, 2016
It's just a project I'm working on . I would to use a high speed actuator but the faster the actuator the less crushing power it has


Joined Jul 18, 2013
The better choice for any high degree of force is a screw Jack, they usually start at 1/4 ton and go up from there, Nook make a nice product, but a little pricey.
I have used the ball screw versions for servo control in the past.


Joined Dec 2, 2013
Power needed is not linear and start with the deformation of a strait round construction.
The force, depending on type of material and thickness, is fore needed difficult to calculate.
But 736Watt =750N/M/S or 75 kg mass one meter up in one second.( assume S_Gravity=10)
The first few mm you need the highest power.( eq 10000N)
Making an estimated calculation based on (10000N) need 1,35 KW in the first few seconds @12V >120Amp's /(first few seconds)
The only way to do this is the 'mechanical way' lift a mass drop it and then push it down until can is flat.
Now you hit the next problem; max frequency and the energy needed to achieve a reasonable throughput.
Simple things end up to be more difficult then at the first glance however; don't blame poor, overworked, underpaid and old picbuster for that.


Joined Sep 17, 2013
I'm going to have a gravity fed can loader where they are stacked on top of each other . I want it to crush one can and then the other one falls down and then the actuator will come back and crush that can
Have you considered the mechanism needed to remove a crushed can before the next one gets crushed? A build-up of crushed cans could screw up the use of limit switches for the actuator movement.


Joined Aug 7, 2008
Auto feeder: View a can sized cage extending upward from crusher illustrated in post # 7, now replace flat head of actuator with a closed end cylinder about can sized. With actuator extending, cylinder holds can supply up & when retracted allows a can to fall.??

Thread Starter


Joined Feb 9, 2016
That's exactly what I'm doing . Easiest way really to do it . So I wouldn't need any photo eyes . How would I reverse the polarity on the actuator ? Make it continuous extending and retracting


Joined Jul 18, 2013
You could do it with S.P.D.T. limits switches, the N.C. would stop the motion, the N.O. would pick up the reverser and latch it in and likewise on the opposite end.
A reversing contactor would be best as it has electrical and mechanical interlocks.