Question: Can a passive dust monitoring housing be made from a cheaper/easier material?

warren is asking a question about passive-pm
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by warren | November 10, 2016 17:21 | #13692

The DIY passive particle monitor housing (for collecting air pollution particles to count with a microscope) is supposed to be made of stainless steel, and the test versions @mathew and others have made are aluminum. But to make it easier and cheaper to build one, could they be made of acrylic or polycarbonate? (copying in this question from this page, via @mathew)

image description

(image from the passive particle monitor page, linked to above)

@mathew also pointed out that metal is good because it doesn't cause static, which could attract particles (if I understood correctly).

The pm-dev page mentions that we'd want to:

  • know the consistency of low-run production units
  • compare data from monitors of different materials in the same location to see if it makes a difference

We'd also want to think about weatherproofness and robustness, of course.

The discs are 8 inches and 5 inches, respectively, separated by 1.5 inches, and each is 1/4 inch thick.

@mathew writes:

The original monitors were made on a CNC machine and cut from stainless steel, with an aluminum housing. CNC-ing services for stainless steel are prohibitively expensive, and less available to us, to DIYers, and to future universities or secondary schools that may use this monitoring methodology.

Can we make cheaper ones, and will they work as well? What are some materials options?

  • wood?
  • polycarbonate?
  • thinner metal?


I would stick with the aluminum. It's probably the most commonly used material for PM monitoring because as you stated non-conducting materials are prone to static attenuation. It needs to be anodized aluminum though.

Make a detailed drawing, find a machine shop that works in aluminum and if you order enough the price per unit will drop dramatically. Anodizing can be nearly any color of the rainbow!

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stacked acrylic sheets. volumes determined through cutting thin sheets with a laser cutter..

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