Weslee Clyde

By: Weslee Clyde on April 9th, 2019

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What Is a Test Sieve? (Definition, Components, & Types + Video)

Test Sieves

If you look up “Test Sieve” anywhere on the internet, you are probably going to be overwhelmed with a ton of charts and numbers talking about “standards” and “mesh opening sizes.” If you have never used a test sieve before, this can be confusing.

Here at W.S. Tyler, we have over 100 years of experience with test sieves and have written this article to help you navigate your way through the subject.

We hope that after reading this, you’ll have a better understanding of what test sieves are, what they are used for, and which one might be right for you.


What is a Test Sieve?

A test sieve is a screening medium, with openings of uniform size and shape, mounted on a rigid frame.

To put it simply, a test sieve is a tool that uses metal cloth with holes in it to separate some kind of particles from materials.

A test sieve consists of a screen (often wire mesh) held in a round metal frame and come in many different sizes and specs.

In most cases, the exact test sieve you need is specified by your industry standard, which we will get into later on. 



What is a Test Sieve Used For?

When someone asks us “what do you do with a test sieve?” we find ourselves always using the same simplified example, panning for gold.

Imagine someone shaking a pan full of dirt and water looking for pieces of gold. As they shake the pan up and down and from side to side, the small pieces of dirt and water fall through the openings in the screen. The bigger pieces of rocks don’t go through the holes, and they can search through what’s left in the pan for gold.

At a very basic level, this is a test sieve.

Test sieves are used in all kinds of industries to perform particle analysis. Sometimes the particles are super fine, like in the 

food or pharmaceutical industry. Sometimes the particles can be larger, like in the agricultural and mining industry.

A sieve shaker is a machine that uses some type of agitation to separate the particles down through a stack of different sized sieves. This gives the user a different size sample in each sieve. Nonetheless, test sieves can be used individually or several can be stacked on top of each other in a sieve shaker.

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Types of Test Sieves

There are two types of sieves: dry test sieves and wet wash test sieves.

Dry test sieves are used when the particles are free-flowing and can pass through openings with just a shaking or tapping motion.

Wet Wash Test Sieves are used when water needs to be added to the sample to get the particles to pass through the sieve.

Wet wash sieving is often used in the aggregate industry. Clay and silt sticks to the outside of the rocks making them larger than they really are. By adding water to their sieving process, the dirt and silt are cleaned off the outside of the rocks allowing them to be measured properly.

To learn more about wet and dry test sieve analysis, take a moment and review our article: Wet & Dry Sieve Analysis (Alloys, Certification & Sizes).


Components of a Test Sieve


Mesh/Screen: The mesh is the most technical part of a test sieve. The most commonly used type of mesh is stainless steel woven wire mesh. This comes in opening sizes 4” (100mm) to 635 mesh (20um).

For more a more in-depth explanation, refer to our article: How to Pick the Right Woven Wire Mesh (Mesh Count, Wire Diameter, and Micron Rating).

Frame: The frame is the round metal circle that holds the mesh in place. The standard frame sizes in the U.S. are 3 inch, 8 inch, and 12 inch. Internationally, 100mm, 200mm, and 300mm are the standard sizes. Sieve frames can be made of stainless steel or brass.

Skirt: The main function of the skirt is to allow the sieves to be stacked without toppling over.


How Much Does A Test Sieve Cost? 

There are hundreds of different sieves you can buy with all combinations of alloys and mesh types. 

Typically, A sieve can cost anywhere from $75 to $930.

We wrote an entire article on what a test sieve costs and all the factors and choices that go into that cost. You can read all about it in our article: How Much Does A Test Sieve Cost?


What are Test Sieve Standards?

One of the most important things to understand when it comes to test sieves are the industry standards. You have to know your industry standards to purchase the correct test sieve. Here's a link to find your industry standards. 

Your Industry standards will tell you:

  1. Your required mesh size
  2. How many test sieves you need
  3. How much sample to use
  4. If you need to use a sieve shaker
  5. How long you need to run your sample for
  6. If you need your sieves certified/calibrated

Test Sieve standards relate to the construction of the sieve itself as well as the performance of the sieve.

Our company actually developed the very first test sieve standard over 100 years ago, but there are now two types of standards that are most commonly used: ISO 3310-1 and ASTM E11.

Typically, ISO Standards are international standards. ASTM are the North American standards.

In simpler terms, your standards depend on the material being tested and the industry you are in.

Our product expert wrote an entire article on understanding your industry standards. You can check it out in Your Guide To Particle Analysis Standards. 


Test Sieve Certification

Sometimes your industry standards will require you to have your test sieves certified or calibrated. This means your industry requires you to have documented proof that your sieves meet your ISO and ASTM specifications.

Basically, your test sieve is run through a machine that verifies the size of the openings. Your sieves are returned to you with a document that confirms your sieve is compliant to whatever the required specifications are.

Certification is done on a brand new test sieve before you use it. After your test sieves have been in use for a while, they can become stretched or damaged and need to be sent back in to be re-certified. They are then run through the same test and a “pass” or “fail” is determined. This ensures that they are still performing at their best.



For more information on all things test sieve certification, check out our article What is Test Sieve Certification? 


Final Thoughts

Although test sieves seem like a simple tool, there is a lot of technical information that is involved. We hope this article helped you better understand the world of test sieves.

Here are a few more resources on test sieves that might be of value to you:  

How to Perform a Test Sieve Analysis 

How Do I Know if My Test Sieves are Accurate? 

How to Clean and Maintain My Test Sieves

If you are ready to purchase your sieves, you can check out our test sieve part tool that lets you find your sieves and submit a quote to our customer service team.

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