The Differential Mobility Analyzer (DMA) is currently the most effective instrument for sizing sub-micrometer aerosol particles. An important requirement to ensure good performance in terms of sizing accuracy and resolution is that the flow field remains laminar and undisturbed along its classification zone. To achieve that, a flow straightener (or flow laminarizer) is employed at the sheath flow inlet, located at the top of the classification column. In this study, we assess the performance of a custom-made DMA using different sheath flow straighteners made out of plastic fabric materials or built by 3D printing. Our tests show that 3D-printed flow straighteners can achieve comparable, and in some cases better, results to those used in commercial DMAs (e.g., fine nylon meshes; Dacron®). Considering the great flexibility and ease in manufacturing offered by 3D printing, our findings show that this technology provides a promising alternative for building enhanced flow straightening systems.
- Aerosol particle sizing
- Laminar flow