Wire gauge is the thickness of wire. Some may find it confusing, but for historical reasons lower gauge wire is actually thicker. Choosing the right baling wire is important because if you choose wire that has too low a gauge for your needs you may not be maximizing your cost-effectiveness, and if you choose a wire that has too high a gauge it may not withstand the pressure and break.
Baling gauges depend on the type of baler you are using, as well as the density and dimensions of your bales. The material you are baling can also affect the type of gauge you need, as some materials put more pressure on wires than others.
Vertical balers are typically used for small volumes and limited budgets, good for producing about two bales a day. These balers commonly require 12, 13 or 14 gauge wire. They are commonly used to bale corrugated cardboard, plastic wrap, and textiles, but can bale other materials.
For cardboard: Look for lighter 13 or 14 gauge wire.
For newspaper: Look for slightly thicker 12 gauge wire, but 13 can often suffice.
For plastic shrink wrap: Look for 13 or 14 gauge wire.
For other plastics: The gauge may need to be as low as 12.
For foam: You need to use thicker wire, 11 gauge is standard, for example.
Horizontal balers are for continuous use and can be automatic or manual, fit for processing wider ranges of materials such as thicker cardboard and plastic containers.
For cardboard: Horizontal balers can use wire as thick as 11 gauge, up to 13 gauge.
For newspaper: 12 or 13 gauge wire is still recommended.
For plastics (including shrink wrap): You can use 11 or 12 gauge wire.
For foam: 11 gauge is recommended with horizontal balers.
Single Ram Auto Tie Balers
Single ram auto tie balers are the best for baling high volumes of paper or corrugated cardboard and can use stronger wire. These are common in recycling centers, printing plants, and box manufacturers.
For almost all materials, single ram auto tie balers typically use 10, 11 or 12 gauge wire. The thickness needed often depends on the volume of material being baled. The exception is foam, for which 12 gauge wire is not strong enough. 10 or 11 gauge is hence recommended.
Two Ram Auto Tie Balers
These balers are ideal for facilities dealing with a variety of materials and are commonly used in material recovery facilities, less-specific recycling operations, scrapyards, and landfills. With higher variability comes the trade-off of being able to use thinner wires than single ram auto ties, but two-rams can still use thick gauges.
For cardboard and newspaper baling, you should be looking for 11 to 13 gauge wire.
For plastic shrink wrap, other plastics, and foam, you should be looking for 11 or 12 gauge wire.
Choosing the right gauge can be confusing, and if you are in doubt about which gauges suit your requirements, contact Baling Wire Direct or your operation’s engineer.