Curves Ahead: A Guide to Particle Size Distribution

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By William Lavelle, VP and Business Development, Custom Processing Services

Materials are exposed to a wide set of processing and technology applications to control chaos, instill order, and ultimately create an engineered powder. One of powder’s more dominate physical attributes is Particle Size Distribution (PSD) characteristics. Particle size and shape play an important role in the performance of any powder. Assurance of a powder’s consistency, faithfulness of reproduction, and adherence to design are provided by any number of systems that produce the statistical distributions we know as curves. This tutorial is not intended as a statistical discussion for a particle physicist. It acts as a high level view of curves and some of the many size reduction technologies required to make powders. Analytical systems represent information about powder with curves so that users have a consistent and reproductive basis for interpretation.. A PSD curve for a powder results from an input material, a processing technology and its application, and the resultant powder’s ability to meet the intent of a designer. Every powder’s mission should assist the user in achieving their meaningful business goals. An Elementary Understanding If an image of a PSD curve appears intimidating, actually there is nothing to fear. The data that makes up the report is nothing more than a mathematical model of the analytical systems interpretation of the powder that system has processed. A user should have the knowledge that the system doing the analysis is calibrated, maintained and suited for the powder type it is representing. Systematic analysis of powder may occur at any stage of processing but most likely upon process completion by judging the size, count, and volume of the particles in the sampled powder. A analyzer’s computer quickly assesses how many particles group into a number of size categories within the analysis. The more common example of this type of assessment is the bell shaped curve used in educational grading systems.

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Curves Ahead Article

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