The process of sieving has been the workhorse of determining particle size distribution. It was used over 5,000 years ago by the Egyptians to grade grain. Advancing technologies in laser diffraction and image analysis have introduced new techniques to the analysis of particle size, yet sieving continues to be the most widely used method. It has significant economic advantages and is easy to execute. Sieving is sometimes called the Cinderella of particle size analysis because it does most of the work while getting little of the credit.
At times the image of sieving has been tainted by poor-quality sieves and faulty analysis. There are literally millions of sieves in use around the world, and this technique is still the cheapest way of measuring particle size – by a considerable margin.