Ronnie Brown

By: Ronnie Brown on June 9th, 2023

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Air Jet Sieve vs. Sonic Sifter: What Device Should I Use?

Particle Analysis



Particle size analysis is a scientific process responsible for ensuring the products you use meet quality standards and work as intended. For this reason, it is referenced and required in countless industries.

Now, as new products emerge, more and more materials must undergo the particle analysis process. Because traditional equipment, such as mechanical sieve shakers, struggle to test some of these materials, specialized devices like air jet sieves and sonic sifters are.

With so many options out there, it is critical that you have an understanding of how these two devices compare so you can furnish your lab setting with the proper equipment.

W.S. Tyler has been a leading force of innovation in the particle size analysis industry for over 150 years, sharing the knowledge we have within our four walls to help you yield accurate and repeatable results.

With that, this article will take a deep dive into the core differences between air jet sieves and sonic sifters. It will cover:

  • What an air jet sieve is
  • How air jet sieves work
  • What a sonic sifter is
  • How sonic sifters work
  • How the two devices compare


What Is an Air Jet Sieve?

An air jet sieve is a laboratory instrument designed to facilitate particle size analysis when working with fine particles. Utilizing a specialized vacuum system, air jet sieves are particularly beneficial when working with material that often becomes agglomerated.

Now, devices such as the ALPINE Air Jet Sieve e200 LS can utilize several software levels, each delivering a certain degree of programmability and security. In turn, they can accommodate various industries, digitizing your results and audit trails for easy access.


Find out more about the different software levels used by the ALPINE Air Jet Sieve e200 LS in the article below:


Conducting an Air Jet Sieve Analysis

An air jet sieve analysis can be conducted using one of two methods: traditional or Swiss. The method you use will depend on your particular needs.

A traditional air jet sieve analysis is typically used when a limited amount of sample material to work with. This is because it utilizes the same sample throughout the testing process.

A Swiss-style air jet sieve analysis is preferred when accuracy is paramount, as it is the most accurate of the two.


Traditional Method

  1. Insert the finest test sieve into the air jet sieve
  2. Evenly distribute the sample material in its entirety on the sieve
  3. Place a lid over a sieve and initiate the device to begin testing the sample
  4. Once complete, weight the retained sample, record your findings, and transfer the retained sample onto the next in the stack
  5. Repeat this process until sample material has been run on every sieve in the stack


Swiss Method

  1. Create material samples of equivalent size and weight for each sieve in the stack.
  2. Evenly distribute the samples on each sieve.
  3. Insert the finest sieve in the stack into the air jet sieve, place the lid over the sieve, and initiate the device to begin testing the sample.
  4. Once tested, the retained material should be weighed, recorded, and discarded.
  5. Repeat this process until each sieve and sample have been tested.


What Is a Sonic Sifter?

A sonic sifter is a laboratory instrument that employs sonic waves to agitate particles in a stack of precision sieves. As a result, particles are able to find the openings of the sieve mesh and pass through.

Affording complete control over sift amplitude, Its unique functions work to deliver particle dispersion, making accurate and repeatable results easy to achieve. This makes sonic sifters particularly useful for fine particle testing, much like air jet sieves.


Conducting a Sonic Sieve Analysis

The sonic sieve analysis process starts with putting together the sieve stack assembly. To find out everything you need to properly assemble a sonic sifter sieve stack read the article:


Once assembled, you can insert the stack into the device, disengage the securing arms, and lower the chamber door.

At this point, you should set the pulse settings and test duration. The device is now ready for operation, which is initiated using the start button.

As testing begins, you should take the time to adjust the amplitude until the larger particles on the sieve begin bounding on the surface of the sieve. That said, if the particles are bouncing higher than half the height of the sieve, the amplitude has been set too high and should be adjusted.

The device will stop running material once the timer reaches 00:00. Once testing is complete, you can remove the sieve stack, and the retained material on each sieve should be weighed.

The final step is to record your results and compile your final calculations.


What Are the Core Differences?

When comparing air jet sieves and sonic sifters five core categories. These categories are operation, particle size range capacity, testing speed, and sample capacity.



Air jet sieves utilize a unique vacuum system to create an air stream that forces the particles to slam against the lid, break up, and fluidize. This allows the free-flowing particles to find the openings of the sieve mesh and make their way through.

That said, this operation requires additional equipment, such as a shop vac and other ancillary accessories, to achieve accurate and repeatable results.

Sonic sifters employ sonic waves to create ultrasonic waves to make the particle break up and bounce on the surface of the sieve mesh. Much like the air jet sieve, this allows the particle to become free-flowing and make their way through the sieve stack.

However, the operations of the sonic sieve happen within a single device with additional accessories, such as the horizontal pulse accessory, reserved for demanding applications.


Particle Size Range Capacity

Air jet sieves are designed to test fine particles that often become agglomerated. It can accurately test material ranging from 10 microns to 4 millimeters.

Sonic sifters offer a slightly more diverse particle size range. It has the ability to test particles ranging from 3 microns to 5.6 millimeters.


Test Speed

The functions of an air jet sieve allow particles to make their way through the sieve mesh quicker than if the material was run through a sonic sifter. The jet of air allows better particle fluidization facilitating improved particle movement.

That said, because you must manually switch through the sieves during an air jet sieve analysis, a sonic sift analysis is often completed much quicker.


Sample Capacity

Air jet sieves are typically used when testing fine, dry particles, such as powdered sugar. While designed to break up particle agglomeration, heavy agglomeration may need to be deagglomerated for the air stream to properly fluidize the sample.

Sonic sifter can accurately test both dry and lightly moistened particles. The sonic wave functions of these devices allow it to break down heavy agglomeration without minimal to no deagglomeration necessary.


Get To Know What Process Fits Your Organization

Air jet sieves are unique particle analysis devices that utilize a specialized vacuum system to break down and fluidize agglomerated material. Sonic sifters, on the other hand, utilize sonic waves to modernize the functions of traditional test sieve analysis processes.

But while getting to know the devices on the market is critical, it is just as important to get to know the processes. This will help you better understand whether or not your lab has the capacity to employ the particle analysis process a given device is designed to facilitate.

Having been pioneers of innovation in the particle analysis industry for over 150 years, W.S. Tyler wants to help build your confidence in your ability to leverage accurate particle analysis results to develop products you can stand behind.

To gain insight into the main particle analysis processes you should be considering, read the following article:

About Ronnie Brown

Ronnie is the Content Writer for W.S. Tyler and has four years of experience as a professional writer. He strives to expand his knowledge on all things particle analysis and woven wire mesh to leverage his exceptional writing and graphic design skills, creating a one-of-a-kind experience for customers.