Introduction to Shredders

Document shredding has become increasingly popular in most recent years due to the sensitivity of personal information and with identity theft running rampant, you can never be too careful about how you dispose of yours or your customer’s private and confidential information.


A paper shredder is a machine used to cut paper into thin strips or fine particles. Individuals, businesses and even government organizations use shredders to destroy private, confidential documents containing highly sensitive information. The US Federal Trade Commission estimates that nine million cases of identity theft take place each year in the USA alone and recommends that individuals defend themselves against identity theft by shredding financial documents, including bills, tax documents, credit card and bank account statements before disposal.

The first paper shredder was invented by Abbot Augustus Low from Piercefield, NY. It received a US Patent in 1909, however was never manufactured. In Germany, Adolf Ehringer’s used the hand-cranked pasta maker as the basis for his invention of the paper shredder. He patented his invention in 1936 and supposedly had anti-Nazi propaganda he wanted to destroy for fear of what the authorities would discover. The machine has since been converted from a hand-crank to an electric motor. Adolf also created the first cross-cut paper shredder in 1959, which helped to further shred the sensitive information by cutting both vertically and horizontally. Krug & Priester bought his company in 1998 andstill manufactures his paper shredders today in Balingen, Germany.

Shredders have evolved from the days of the hand-cranked pasta maker. As the demand for commercial and personal use shredders grow, shredder manufacturers continue to develop new features that improve the efficiency, convenience and safety of the shredders. Some shredders can detect paper thickness to help avoid paper jams and can notify the user of when the bin needs to be emptied. Shredders have also been designed for noise reduction and energy efficiency. From January 2000 through September 2005, the Consumer Product Safety Commission received 50 reports of injuries involving finger amputations and lacerations. The majority of injuries happened to children under the age of five. These and other injuries are the reasons why shredders today are manufactured with several safety features. Safety sensors, slimmer paper entry’s, safety locks, flaps and switches are all proactive measures companies have taken to help prevent accidents causing serious injuries.

Shredders range in size and price from small and inexpensive units, which are meant for a few pages at a time, such as a shredder for personal use; to large units that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are used by commercial shredding services. Normally, shredders are electrically powered; however there are ones such as special scissors with multiple blades and few that are still hand-cranked, it all depends on the size and type of shredding job that is being processed.

Stay tuned, next week we will talk about the types of shredders and the creative uses for paper, cardboard and rubber, once they’ve been shredded!