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Why do you measure particle size?

5 November 2010 No Comment

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Hi. As a Key Account Technical Specialist at Malvern Instruments I work with laser diffraction and other particle characterization systems.

One of the most interesting parts of my job is learning about the myriad ways in which people use particle size data. Everyone who buys one of our particle size analyzers, whether for use in the lab or on plant is clearly interested in quantifying particle size but their motivations are incredibly diverse. There are still fascinating things I learn on a daily basis after nearly 20 years in the field and that keep me interested!

Medicine, juice and paint manufacturers share the need to prevent settling. Ceramics and metal powder producers on the other hand are interested in packing, the filling of complex moulds to make cleanly shaped components with desirable properties. Those selling toners and coatings need a great finish – print clarity or just the right amount of gloss, while the cement industry needs to secure high strength, after one-day, and over the long term. Oh yes, and whatever the skill of the barista, the taste of your coffee is highly dependent on the grind!

A new series

Over the next few months I’m going to take a look at some of the key reasons why different sectors measure particle size. I’m going to look at how particle size data is used and how this informs the choice of measurement technique. It’s a great topic for highlighting the effort and science that goes into achieving the performance we expect from day-to-day products. And it also serves to highlight area of commonality across different sectors, useful for sharing best practice.

I’m kicking off with a look at the importance of particle size in aeronautical decision making following a volcanic eruption in a couple of weeks. I hope you find the series as fascinating as I find the subject!