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A Simple Guide to Sifter Selection

Posted on Aug 28, 2014

A Simple Guide to Sifter Selection

By Rob Dallow

In a world full of differing Dry Powder Sieving machines, equipment and technologies, how do you determine the most appropriate sieving equipment for your specific application? What follows is a simple, short descriptive guide to Sifter Selection for the most popular sieving technologies for dry bulk solids. Please note – the following is intended to provide an overview of some of the most popular Sifter designs and their features and should not be considered to be an exhaustive study of the subject.

Before we even start to look at which sieving machine and equipment to use, we first need to consider three very important factors relating to the process at hand:

A)   What are the material characteristics?

B)    What is the sieving application that we are aiming to achieve?

C)    How is the Sifter going to be installed in the proposed process?

A-   Material Characteristics

             We typically need to consider:

  • Particle Size – fine powder thru to coarse granules and lumps
  • Particle Shape – spherical, irregular, flake, etc.
  • Friable – is the material easily damaged
  • Abrasive – will the material cause rapid wear of the sieving media
  • Flow Characteristics – free-flowing thru to cohesive and difficult
  • Moisture & Fat Content – is the material likely to smear
  • Temperature Sensitive – will the material degrade if subject to heat during the process 

B-    Typical Sifting Applications

            We typically need to consider:

  • Policing – check sifting of feedstock to remove extraneous materials such as packaging, string and lumps of hard agglomerated product
  • Scalping – removal of a small percentage of oversize material from the feedstock
  • Classification – one or more separations at specific screen sizes
  • De-dusting – removal of ‘fines’ from the feedstock
  • De-agglomeration – sifting and breaking of soft agglomerates to recover usable feed product that otherwise might be considered scrap
  • Conditioning – a gentle process to enliven stored product or break down unmixed agglomerates

C-    Use and Installation of the Sifter

            We typically need to consider factors such as:

  • Gravity Installation – feed to Sifter is in a free-fall condition
  • Inline Pressure Installation – connected directly into a pneumatic conveying line (positive or vacuum)
  • Controlled Feed of Material – an external device controls the feed rate to the Sifter
  • Flood Feed – the Sifter needs to be capable of handling a flood-feed conditionCentrifugal Sifter by Kemutec
  • Process and Environment Conditions – explosive materials or environment, product and ambient temperatures, special electrical requirements, etc.
  • Legislative and Other Industry Requirements – ATEX, 3A Dairy, NFPA, etc. 

Having identified the process and installation conditions for the application, then we need to turn our attention to the selection of a suitable Sifter or Screener.

Popular Sifter Types and Advantages 

a)    Centrifugal or Rotary Sifters

  • Internal Rotating Paddle – provides energetic sifting action
  • Easy Access – hinged and interlocked doors for ease of cleaning & maintenance
  • High Capacity – ideal for high throughput Scalping and Policing applications
  • Compact Design – fits into small spaces
  • Solid Flanged Connections – provides dust-tight sealing
  • Strong Design – can be integrated directly into Pneumatic Conveying linesVibratory Screener by Kemutec
  • De-agglomeration – energetic action breaks up soft agglomerates
  • Single separations only

b)    Vibratory Screeners

  • Flat-deck – normally round screens
  • Multiple Decks – ideal for multiple separations
  • Vibrator Motor Drive – provides two-dimensional high frequency, low amplitude sifting
  • Gentle Vibratory Action – good for friable or easily damaged materials
  • Minimal Energy Input – good for temperature sensitive materials

c)    Tumbler Screeners

  • Flat-deck – both round and rectangular screensTumbler Screener by Kemutec
  • Multiple Decks – ideal for multiple separations
  • Vibrator Motor Drive – provides three-dimensional low frequency, high amplitude sifting
  • High Throughput – more efficient for high volume applications
  • Finer Screening – ability to sift at smaller mesh sizes
  • Gentle Vibratory Action – good for friable or easily damaged materials
  • Minimal Energy Input – good for temperature sensitive materials

Taking all the different aspects of the proposed process and installation into consideration, we now move to establishing the most suitable Sifting technology for the specific application. 

Three examples are: 

1)    High Throughput Policing of Flour inline in a Positive Pneumatic Conveying System

Selection – Centrifugal or Rotary Sifter


  • Single separation
  • Inline pressure rated machine
  • Ideal for High Volume Scalping

2)    Multiple Classification of Agglomerated Dairy Powder

            Selection – Vibratory Screener


  • Multiple Decks for multi-separations
  • Gentle Action doesn’t degrade fragile product
  • No heat input into temperature sensitive product

3)    High Volume Screening of a Cohesive Mineral Powder

            Selection – Tumbler Screener


  • Low frequency, high amplitude action
  • Three-dimensional action is efficient for screening cohesive powders
  • Ideal for high capacity applications.
  • Gentle Action minimizes wear issues due to abrasive nature of material

Rob Dallow is president and managing director of Kemutec Group Inc. (Bristol, PA). He has worked in both the UK and U.S. in technical, sales and administrative positions in the powder handling and processing industry for more than 35 years, with the last 12 years spent providing custom powder processing solutions to the North and South American markets.

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