The shredders available on the market are differentiated by the way in which paper is shredded, as well as the shape and size of the paper shreds produced. But without knowing what the differences between these functions are, it can be difficult to make a reliable purchase, whether you are buying one for yourself or using a company who provides shredding services.
Generally speaking, the type of shredder you require depends on the materials you will be shredding and the sensitivity of the documents you need to dispose of. Home offices and small businesses use fairly simple shredders for everyday bits of paperwork, companies in the industrial sector use more heavy-duty shredders for cardboards and plastics, whereas legal bodies and governments use sophisticated shredders to ensure that classified documents and sensitive materials are permanently destroyed. In this post, we’ll be considering the differences between these main types of shredding.
The most common way of destroying documents is with strip-cut shredding (also known as ribbon shredding), a process by which the paper is cut into long parallel strips as they pass through several blades on a horizontal shaft. Strip-cut shredders often present an economical choice for everyday use in the home and office, largely due to their low price and availability. But while this is a simple and accessible method of shredding, it is also known as the least secure.
Highly confidential documents have previously been compromised as a result of the strips being carefully reconstructed and the original document restored. The speed and efficiency of strip-cut shredding makes it the most obvious choice for many, but there is no question that other methods are more suitable if you need to shred sensitive materials. If you do opt for this method of shredding, just bear in mind that the more narrow the strips, the more difficult they are to reconstruct.
As opposed to simply shredding paper in long vertical strips, the cross-cut shredding method involves vertical and horizontal blades that cut the paper into tiny square (or diamond) pieces.
Cross-cut shredders are able to cut a single sheet of A4 paper into hundreds of pieces: that’s approximately 10x more pieces than strip-cut shredders produce!
Although the relative level of security offered by this method depends on the exact size of the individual shreds (these range from just under half and inch in width to 1/32 inch), this method is undoubtedly a safer option compared to strip-cut shredding. Furthermore, shredders with this function are relatively affordable and widely available, making them a great choice for those who value their security but don’t fancy breaking the bank on more sophisticated equipment. This makes cross-cut shredding a widely recommended type of shredding for the average consumer.
This kind of shredding (also known as micro-cut shredding) grinds documents down into thousands of miniscule particles using fine-toothed blades. While the above two methods produce shreds that can be reassembled given enough time, particle-cut shredding eliminates this possibility entirely. This makes it the most reliable form of shredding in terms of security.
But security comes at a high price, and the equipment necessary for particle-cut shredding is not easily affordable for the average consumer. As such, it is mainly used by those who regularly deal in highly confidential and top-secret documents (such as government bodies, research facilities, financial institutions). However, some people argue that these shredders should be used by even regular consumers and small businesses. So if you are an average consumer or company and security is a top priority, they are certainly worth your investment.
This kind of shredding involves multiple heavy-duty rotating blades which pierce the paper while ripping it apart as it passes through to a large holding bin. Shredders with this function are often reserved for industrial purposes where large quantities of paper need to be shredded in a quick period of time. For instance, pierce-and-tear shredding is the method used by shredding trucks when disposing of large documents picked up from several different sources.
This method of shredding can also be used for more bulky materials (e.g. cardboard boxes, thick binders) and do not require materials to be inserted vertically. For this reason, they are installed in factories so that workers can quickly and easily dispose of large quantities of hard wearing materials. Pierce-and-tear shredders are most likely too large and expensive for regular use in offices and homes – not to mention a bit over-the-top!