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When is a Sieve Not a Sieve?

Posted by

Amanda Ranowsky on Dec 18, 2019 4:45:00 PM

In our business, we use the word “sieve” to describe a piece of equipment that separates different sized particles  using a woven wire screen. To others, “sieve” can mean something very different.

Particle Size Sieves


Sieves – the screen or mesh kind – work by separating some particles from the others in their sample based on their size. Particles smaller than the holes in the mesh will be allowed through, while bigger particles will be caught in the mesh.

Sieves in the Computer World

In the computer programming world, “sieve” is a programming language used to create email filters. You could say its operation is based on the same concept as our sieves, separating certain emails from the entire batch, though not necessarily by the size of the email.  

There are Even Sieves in Sports

The sports arena uses “sieve” to describe a goalie that causes his team to lose the game by allowing many goals to be scored by an opposing team. Here, the goalie is like the wire mesh in a sieve. He should be keeping some particles – or balls – in this case, from getting through, but in reality, the balls are slipping through the holes.

Mathematicians Have Their Own Kinds of Sieves

Mathematicians use sieves for a rather different purpose than the one we’re used to. To them, a “sieve” can be used to find prime numbers. Take the Sieve of Eratosthenes, which has to be the coolest name for a sieve I think I’ve ever heard. This sieve was named after Eratosthenes of Cyrene, a Greek mathematician in ancient times, and is known as one of the most efficient ways to find small primes (any prime number less than 1000). Like the mesh sieves that we use, this type of sieve is used to separate some numbers (in this case, small primes) from others based on certain criteria.

Dreams of a New Particle Size Sieve

We think it would be special if our particle sizing sieves acted more like the computer programming or mathematic version of the word – not the sports definition. That’s why we offer sieves that are manufactured to ASTM standards, and calibration beads to test their accuracy.

Happy sieving!



P.S.  See our ASTM sieves, and check out the calibration spheres.


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Topics: ASTM, Particle Size Analysis, Sieve Calibration, Sieve Certification, Sieves, Sieving Process

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