What is an Air Classifier?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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An air classifier is a device that is used to sort materials on an industrial scale. The device is capable of sorting out items with a high level of precision into a number of different categories. Air classifiers are used in materials processing in industries such as recycling, food processing, and mining. These machines are primarily available through specialty companies and they may be purchased or rented for various applications.

The air classifier takes advantage of some simple physics to function. The device has a column of air that rises, meeting a dry feed of items that are poured into the air classifier. Heavier items sink to the bottom of the column, while lighter items drift to the top. This vertically separates the stream of incoming items. Each layer of the column can be offloaded to a different container, keeping the separated items apart.

Air classifiers can handle materials of various shapes and sizes. Density, size, and shape all play a role in where things will end up in the column. Operators can adjust the machines for different types of sorting applications and various screens and filters can be installed to facilitate sorting. These industrial sorting machines reduce manpower needs significantly by eliminating the need for manual materials processing.


Companies can use air classifiers for tasks such as quality control, ensuring that their products are very carefully divided by size and weight. These devices can also prepare streams of dry material for further processing, as seen at a recycling plant where the air classifier separates plastics, glass, and other materials so that they can be directed to different areas of the plant for further processing.

The size of an air classifier varies. Some models are quite small and designed for working with very small materials in facilities like laboratories. Others are extremely large and intended for factory floors. Companies that manufacture air classifiers also provide support in the form of parts and service for their products. Like other pieces of industrial equipment, these devices function best when they are maintained in good working order and they can be dangerous if they are poorly maintained or installed improperly.

Many companies which need an air classifier buy the product so that they will have it readily available. If there is a temporary need, a rental or lease may be arranged with an industrial equipment supplier or manufacturer. Rented devices may come with a technician to operate the equipment or instruct someone in its operation for safety.


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