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Disc Pump Spotlight - Pulsation-free Output

When using conventional pumps, pulsation-free airflow is rarely achieved without additional hardware such as baffles, accumulators and dampners. This can increase the cost, complexity and size of a system.

For many applications, smooth, low-pulsation airflow is essential. In measurement instrumentation (such as for gas analysis), pulsation often limits the signal-to-noise ratio and the resulting sensitivity. For microfluidics systems (such as point-of-care diagnostics), pulsation can cause poor flow control, leading to sampling errors.

Conventional pump technologies typically operate at speeds of up to 50 Hz (3000 RPM). The Lee Company’s disc pump cycles more than 400 times faster, at 21000 Hz (equivalent to 1.26M RPM). Each cycle of the pump displaces a tiny quantity of air, typically in the range of 10s to 100s nanolitres. The resulting airflow is ultra-smooth and creates negligible pressure pulsation within the system.

Ultrasonic Operation

Figure 1 shows the pressure pulsation generated by a disc pump, a diaphragm pump, and a rotary vane pump.1

The diaphragm pump creates large, low-frequency pressure oscillations. The rotary vane pump produces smaller, higher-frequency oscillations; however, the pulsation is still readily apparent—despite this, rotary vane pumps are often sold as “low pulsation” solutions.

The disc pumps, on the other hand, produces very little pulsation at all; no pulsation is observed above the background noise floor of the measurement sensor.


With its ultra-smooth, pulsation-free output, the disc pumps offer superior performance to conventional pump technology and enables designers to create simpler, more compact products. These benefits apply to a wide range of applications outlined below.

Controlled Pulsation

What’s more, disc pump’s piezoelectric drive actuator has no stall speed, meaning the pump can be controlled continuously between 0 and 100% output. The pump is also able to respond to full-scale set point changes in few milliseconds. These characteristics make it ideal for creating controlled pulsation within a system. This can be used to mimic physiological flow conditions, such as a heartbeat – especially useful with emerging organ-on-a-chip technologies. Some studies have also shown that pulsated airflow can even be an effective way of mixing fluids in microfluidic applications.

A pulsation-free flow and an ultra-fast response time are just some of the key benefits that the disc pumps offer, alongside silent operation, full control flexibility, and portability. Find out for yourself and start testing with our Evaluation Kit.


1 Pumps driven to deliver approx. 80 mbar against a 30k Lohm flow restriction. Pressure output measured with a high-frequency pressure sensor sampling at approx. 60 kHz.