Product News


Extend your texture analysis capabilities and increase your testing efficiency
Automated Linear Indexing System

Would you like to employ a texture analysis system which provides multiple loading of samples and their subsequent testing with 'walk-away' time for the duration of all tests? If high volume, repetitive testing is causing a bottleneck in your operation, automating to meet critical deadlines can be a business imperative. An investment in automation can be justified for a number of reasons, all of which directly impact your laboratory's contribution to profit.

The Automated Linear Indexing System (ALIS) enables the loading of multiple test samples prior to testing and does not require constant supervision by the user during testing. It is integrated seamlessly with a TA.XTplus Texture Analyser with quick and easy set-up and sample mounting.

Test specimens are typically located in bespoke support plates then, with prompted steps, testing conditions are set, tests are performed, and results are reported with little or no operator involvement. In this walkaway time further samples can be prepared or measurement results can be evaluated.

Watch a video showing typical examples of how an Automated Linear Indexing System works

The Automated Linear Indexing System is available in two platform lengths – 250mm and 600mm – and has two modes of operation. The platform can either be moved and paused for the testing of each sample, or can be moved constantly at the same speed as the texture analyser's arm, which is ideal for peel testing, for instance.

Measure Tape Peel Properties at Multiple Speeds within a Single Test

In the field of adhesive technology, the 90 ° peel test (FINAT No. 2) is one of the most used tests. This measurement can also be greatly simplified with ALIS. A very precise positioning of the measuring arm and the measuring table is possible. The speeds between the trigger and the table feed can also be changed within a single test, saving valuable testing time instead of having one test per peel speed.

See a tape peel test in action

Measure Pay Off of Cosmetics using an ALIS

In addition to the consistency of lipsticks, the lipstick transfer and the application behaviour of the pencils on the lips also play a decisive role. Together with the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser and the ALIS you can precisely assess the transfer (or payoff) of the lipstick onto a defined surface. In this test, the lipstick is applied with a defined force to e.g. press onto a paper surface. The ALIS table then starts the movement and simulates the application of the lipstick. The movements of the table can be precisely controlled by the user, e.g. get a test to proceed over a longer period of time. As a result, the amount of the abraded lipstick mass can be determined by weighing the paper substrate before and after the test.

Watch how this works for two different products:   1       2 

More information regarding this product


Back to basics for Exponent – making texture analysis even easier!

Over the years Exponent software has continuously evolved to to add new features – many of which have been requested by customers. Whether it’s a new calculation, a new way to plot data or macro commands for data analysis, the software package is extensive in its capabilities.

Whilst experienced users have fully established their testing routines, we are conscious of making things easier for new or inexperienced texture analyser users. As such, we have created an alternative layout to the software. You now have the option at the login screen to enter the software to a 'Basic' or more simplified user interface (below left).

New Exponent Connect user selection screen and graph template

This simplified interface or workspace has been laid out to show the most common/favourite functions as a toolbar and the most simple graphical view to display your data (above right).

However, nothing has been removed by way of functionality – we've simply made it easier on the eye! Everything is customisable according to your requirements – add or remove anything you like. If you don't like what we've suggested for you, you can simply resave it laid out the way you prefer. As you become more familiar with the software you may find you add new items to your toolbar or layout – no problem, just customise it to the way you feel comfortable and when you return to the software using your login it will remember how you like it.

Find out more...

SOFTWARE UPDATE
The latest version of Exponent Connect is now available. Download

Exponent graph window

Lifting the lid on food and drink packaging tests
Ring Pull Rig

Among our range of specialist attachments is a rig allowing manufacturers of food tins and beverage cans to measure the force needed to lift the ring pull and open the container. This development could signal the end of consumer frustration with trying to open metal packaging that is too stiff, or where the ring pull detaches from the lid.

Understanding and quantifying the force needed to use a ring pull is vital for both packaging manufacturers and their customers to ensure safety, functionality and consumer experience.

The force required to open tins and cans is dictated by the shape of the ring pull and lid, their materials and the depth of the groove in the lid. Until now, only subjective methods were available for assessing ‘force to pull’, which made it difficult to identify the design that provided both ease of use and packaging integrity.

The rig works by locking the product in place on the TA.XTplus texture analyser and attaching a hook adapter to its ring pull. The hook is pulled upwards, mimicking the action of a person opening the can, while measuring the force needed to lift the ring pull and finally break the seal.

The universal design of the Ring Pull Rig means non-circular shapes, such as meat or fish cans, can also be accurately analysed. The flexibility of Exponent software has also allowed the development of a special test for tins that require a two-step pulling action.

The rig first measures the force needed to break the seal before pausing and allowing the user to adjust the hook direction or rotate the tin. The second part of the test then measures the force required to peel and remove the metal lid completely. By understanding the force needed to open cans and tins, packaging designers and engineers can find the correct balance between safety and convenience for the consumer.

The Ring Pull Rig aims to give manufacturers a detailed analysis of opening behaviours so they can optimise future product development. When the device is used with a Video Capture and Synchronisation System, the user is able to replay the test data frame-by-frame for an even more powerful in-depth analysis.

The Ring Pull Rig can also be enhanced with the use of an Acoustic Envelope Detector, to capture and measure the ‘fizz’ sound of a carbonated drink.

This rig is a Community Registered Design and is a continuation of the ever increasing range of innovative solutions for texture analysis.

To find out more about the Ring Pull Rig, please email us...

See the Ring Pull Rig at work in this video


Perform your Texture Analysis using your phone or tablet 

Our Connect range of Texture Analysers provide the latest step forward in improving your texture analysis experience. A new specification take us yet another step further ahead in the field of texture analysis and product property characterisation.

This new range of instruments will provide many additional and beneficial features that will stretch the specification of our instruments further beyond the current capabilities of our competitors’ Texture Analysers.

Users will now have multiple options to operate their Texture Analyser:

Using your phone, tablet or laptop via a Web Browser Interface: If your instrument is connected to your Ethernet, this could be your preferred simple way to operate a Texture Analyser. You will be able to set up and run tests from a PC or mobile device of your choosing, whether this is a phone or tablet, as the Browser Interface is non-specific to the mobile operating system. Test data can be downloaded and saved to your network directly from this interface. Multiple Texture Analysers can also be setup and controlled by one device.

Using a Touchscreen: This allows a user to operate the Texture Analyser in a simple ‘stand-alone mode’. It provides a rapid and simple means of setting up and performing tests and controlling the TA. It can be used to view basic results (including a summary test curve after each test). Test files can be stored within the instrument and uploaded to Exponent Connect or a USB data stick when convenient.

Using Software: This is the most feature-rich texture analysis option available for your every need and now has the ability to capture test data at 2000 points per second (and at variable rates throughout a test). This higher acquisition rate (2000pps) detects up to four times as many force changes per second as the existing rate (500pps) and so it is very well-suited to applications involving high rate fracture, such as crispiness, or high speed events, such as in the measurement of adhesives or brittle samples.

The instruments will now provide more ‘connectivity’ possibilities – a technical feature that is becoming an expectation of electronics products. Owners of multiple instruments will have the ability to network all of their Texture Analysers to set them up and collect data remotely via Ethernet.

Standard engineering calculations have now also been built into the software for quick calculation of specific moduli, stresses, strains, strengths and energies which are particularly suited to materials testing applications.

An upgrade path from your existing instrument to the new Connect specification is possible to protect the initial capital investment of your original texture analyser purchase. Find out more

We hope you’ll get connected for more texture analysis innovation you will love!

Request a brochure

Phone and tablet operation of texture analyser

Do you need safer texture analysis?
Safety screen for the Texture Analyser range

A protective screen is sometimes a necessary accessory to protect the operator in the event of sample fragments leaving the test area during a test.

Safety Screen is available for operator protection from such fragments or violent failures of specimens such as hard and brittle materials that may shatter or create projectiles upon failure. In addition, there are instruments used by multiple and/or unskilled operators that may prefer the installation of such a screen for an extra degree of operator safety.

The screen is constructed of a strong yet lightweight acrylic panel which allows clear observation during a test whilst minimising weight. A handle at the front of the instrument provides the means to lift the screen. An interlock mechanism requires that the screen is at its lowest ‘closed’ position prior to starting a test and will interrupt the test in the event that the screen is lifted up during a test. Upon lifting, any test that is underway will immediately stop and an audible signal will be produced. The screen has dampers which enable the panel to remain at any lifted position without dropping down.

The design is such that the screen works within the existing footprint of the Texture Analyser with no additional bench space required. We are happy to inform you that it is, in fact, the only Texture Analyser that currently has safety in mind!

Email us for more details.


NEW Hair Suppleness Rig

The cosmetics industry frequently promises softer, suppler hair after the use of their products, or promises that certain traditionally harmful methods (such as bleaching) will have no adverse effect. The difficulty comes in testing these properties in an imitative, repeatable way. The Hair Suppleness Rig allows the measurement of the resistance of a hair sample to being run through a set of smooth bars, representative of running fingers through the hair on a human head.

Some changes to the physical properties of hair are intentional (the addition of conditioners or serum for added smoothness), whereas some are unintentional (bleaching, which induces brittleness and stiffness). No matter the property in question, the quantification of hair properties is important to the development of new hair products and treatments. Sensory panels are useful, as hair is a product with a complex pattern of properties and variables, so it is a challenge to measure its properties exactly as a consumer might feel them when they are styling their hair, or what they take to mean ‘softness to the touch’. However, instrumental testing is much faster to perform, and the results of an instrumental test do not rely on the operator, unlike those of a sensory test, no matter how thorough sensory training has been. Consequently, instrumental quantification of hair properties should be a standard part of any hair testing routine.

Assessments of hair such as tensile testing and three-point bend testing are useful for keeping a record of more fundamental properties, but imitative tests such as the measurement of combing force, volume and body measurement via laser profiling, and this suppleness test are useful for representing hair in the way in which it is felt and used in reality.

The force detected by the loadcell when a hair sample is pulled through this rig is made up of several factors:
1) The stiffness of the hair fibres (as they have to constantly bend on their way up through the rods).
2) The friction between hair strands (as they rub against each other constantly when the tress is being pulled upward).
3) The friction between the hair strands and the rig (as they are pulled against the surface of the rig itself).

An alteration to any of these factors will have an effect on the measured force. A higher force represents a higher resistance to motion through the rods of the rig. A suppler hair sample will have a lower resistance to motion, and in turn, suppler hair on a person’s head feels flexible and smooth when fingers are run through it.

This is similar to subjecting a sample to a three-point bend test, but the bending configuration is slid along the length of the tress- i.e., continuous three-point bending. Bending tests can be challenging to set up in a reproducible way, particularly for suppler samples that cannot support their own weight without drooping, so this test is a simpler alternative that can be directly related to the consumer’s perception of their own hair texture.

To discover other ways of testing hair and hair products using a Texture Analyser, click here.

New Hair Suppleness Rig

Investigating the full picture of adhesive testing
Adhesive testing on the Texture Analyser using a probe

The development of Texture Analysers has opened up a wealth of opportunities for adhesive testing and analysis. Most recently the ability to replay, freeze-frame and share your product testing data using a Video Capture and Synchronisation System has been introduced. This is a fantastic tool for teaching others about the nature of your product and for those new to the field or, more importantly, to help you gain a frame-by-frame understanding of your product failure.

Capturing tests on video alongside traditional adhesive testing can be a real advantage to texture analysis users. Events in an experiment can be easily missed by the human eye, whether due to the speed of the test or to the physical structure of the sample; adhesive separation, for example, can occur very quickly. However, matching up visual and graphical information after a test can be awkward if the data are not synchronised. For example, correlating peaks and troughs on a force-distance-time graph to specific moments in the test can be tricky, even if the video of the experiment is faultless. This is especially the case where a product has an uneven texture or a complex breaking pattern.

Video Capture and Synchronisation System

Stable Micro Systems’ Video Capture and Synchronisation System enables Texture Analyser users to replay 50fps video recordings frame by frame, simultaneously with the corresponding force-distance-time graph. All of the collected data is processed by the Exponent software – supplied with the TA.XTplus texture analyser. As the instrument begins collecting test data, a signal is relayed to the Video Capture Interface that initiates the video recording.

Each frame is automatically synchronised with the data points on the graph, allowing slow replay of those frames that record a significant event, but which may not be easily seen by the naked eye in real time. This enables the exact relation of graph events to visual events on the product.




The test platform with camera mounting points fits easily to the test bed of the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. The camera on its flexible arm can be positioned above or directly to the side of the test sample, but may also be mounted below the transparent window of the test platform, with additional illumination in any case being provided by the optional multiple-LED lighting arrangement.

Find out more about this new technology.


Increasing sample throughput of adhesive testing is another area of interest. The Multi-head Indexing Probe is an application for the Automated Linear Indexing System that allows adhesives to be tested without manual intervention between tests or the need to clean/dry probes in between sample tests.

This thereby allows for ‘walk-away’ time from testing due to the system being able to automatically index to a new probe after each test.

The video shown here gives an example of how the Automated Indexing System can operate with this Multi-head Indexing Probe.

The Multi-head Indexing Probe is also available separately for those users who just wish to speed up their testing whilst manually indexing the probe to the next clean probe during testing, to avoid stopping to clean and dry between tests.

Both ways of using this Multi-head Indexing Probe serve to increase your sample throughput to get your data collected in less time by saving the necessary cleaning to the end of multiple tests.


New application studies now available

The Application Studies library in Exponent continues to expand with the addition of new methods and fixtures that are available to use. These studies demonstrate a viable test method for a wide range of specific products, and also act as an ideal starting point for studying similar products. Detailed reports present typical results and interpretation and included projects ready to automatically load all of the files necessary to get testing.

The following studies and projects have been added in version 7.0.6.0 – so here’s what we’ve been working on:


Cosmetics

Suppleness measurement of hair tresses (HAIR4/HSR)


Dairy

Cheese relaxation measurement and analysis using rheology equations (CHE6/P45)


Fruit

Compression measurement on cob nuts to measure the force required to crack shells including max/min acceptance bands (NUT2/P40)

Compression of dried apple samples over three days of staling (APP2/OTC)


Materials

Bend testing of brittle ceramic samples for Young’s modulus and fracture stress (CER1/3PB)

Measurement of the vertical shear strength and bulk density of mouldable sand (SAND1/PVS)

Unconfined compression testing of soil samples (SOIL1/UYS)


Pasta

Bending resistance/flexure and elastic modulus of dry spaghetti: advanced analysis (PTA7/SFR)


Vegetables

Compression of hydrated vegetable protein (PRO1/OTC)

Firmness and stiffness measurement of tofu using a 6mm cylinder probe (TOFU2/P6)


There has also been the update of an existing project for tablet diametral testing: Failure behaviour, brittleness index and tensile strength of tablets due to diametral compression using a cylinder probe (TAB1/P25). This application study now includes background and a project for the testing of biconvex tablets that has a different formula to that of cylinder shaped tablets.

To gain access to all of these application studies and their ready-to-use projects update your Exponent Connect software to the latest version, free of charge.

New application studies now available

Upgrade your old instrument to the new Connect specification – improve your Texture Analysis experience

Did you know that you now have the opportunity to upgrade your TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to the new Connect specification and take advantage of the new features that are available. At the same time, you will protect the initial capital investment of your original texture analyser purchase.

The upgrade path will provide more ‘connectivity’ possibilities for your instrument – a technical feature that is becoming an expectation of electronics products. Owners of multiple instruments will have the ability to network all of their Texture Analysers to set them up and collect data remotely via Ethernet. Users will now have multiple ways to operate their Texture Analyser:

Using a Touchscreen: This allows a user to operate the Texture Analyser in a simple ‘stand-alone mode’. It provides a rapid and simple means of setting up and performing tests and controlling the TA. It can be used to view basic results (including a summary test curve after each test). Test files can be stored within the instrument and uploaded to Exponent Connect or a USB data stick when convenient.

Using a Web Browser Interface on your phone, tablet or laptop: If your instrument is connected to your Ethernet, this could be your preferred simple way to operate a Texture Analyser. You will be able to set up and run tests from a PC or mobile device of your choosing, whether this is a phone or tablet, as the Browser Interface is non-specific to the mobile operating system. Test data can be downloaded and saved to your network directly from this interface. Multiple Texture Analysers can also be setup and controlled by one device.

Using Exponent Connect Software: This is the most feature-rich texture analysis option available for your every need and now has the ability to capture test data at 2000 points per second (and at variable rates throughout a test). This higher acquisition rate (2000pps) detects up to four times as many force changes per second as your existing rate (500pps) and so it is very well-suited to applications involving high rate fracture, such as crispiness, or high speed events, such as in the measurement of adhesives or brittle samples.

Standard engineering calculations have now also been built into the software for quick calculation of specific moduli, stresses, strains, strengths and energies which are particularly suited to materials testing applications.

This upgrade will take you another step further ahead in the field of texture analysis and product property characterisation. We hope you’ll get connected for more texture analysis innovation you will love!

Request a brochure

Upgrade your old instrument to the new Connect specification

New Universal Sample Clamp
New Universal Sample Clamp

When penetrating, extruding or cutting a sample during a test it is common that the sample sometimes needs to be held down manually in order to avoid it being lifted up with the withdrawing probe or fixture.

The penetration of a margarine sample, the cutting of a piece of meat or the backward extrusion of a thick moisturising cream are typical examples when this may occur.

The resulting measured forces of this occurrence will be displaying the weight of the material (and/or its supporting packaging) being lifted rather than the forces necessary to withdraw from the sample. If lifting of the sample occurs the graph that is obtained will not therefore reflect the entire true textural profile of the sample.

To assist with this problem we have designed a Universal Sample Clamp. This clamp is able to hold down a multitude of sample types, shapes and sizes, including the packaging which may contain the sample. The sample is placed on the base of the clamp. In the case of circular samples, the concentric rings will provided a means of central placing of the sample or its circular container. The top clamp can then be lowered down onto the sample and secured at a suitable clamping position using the post screws. A circular orifice provides suitable access for a cylinder probe up to 50mm in diameter, whilst the linear hole running through this provides access for a standard blade. The clamp has been designed to sit diagonally on the base of the instrument to optimise the available space under the orifice for maximum sample size flexibility.

This item is a Community Registered Design demonstrating Stable Micro Systems continued innovation and progression of texture analysis solutions.

Click or tap here for more information...


New Exponent Version Released

The Application Studies library in Exponent continues to expand with the addition of new methods and fixtures that are available to use.

These studies demonstrate a viable test method for a wide range of specific products, and also act as an ideal starting point for studying similar products.

Detailed reports present typical results and interpretation and included projects ready to automatically load all of the files necessary to get testing. The following studies and projects have been added in version 7.0.4.0:

CONFECTIONERY

Comparison of the acoustic properties of two brands of popping candy (CANDY1/AED)

Vickers Hardness measurement of white and dark chocolate at -18°C, 4°C and 21°C (CHOC2/PV)

ELECTRONICS

Measurement of mechanical keyboard force and distance (KEY1/P7D)

Measurement of switch actuation force and distance (SWITCH1/P05S)

MATERIALS

Vickers Hardness measurement of HDPE, Cork & Pine (MATERIALS2/PV)

Measurement of the shear properties of a viscous polymer using the Mini Stickiness System (POL1/MSS)

Shore A and D Hardness measurement of polymers (POL2/PS)

PHARMACEUTICAL

Brinell Hardness measurement of dispersible tablets using HBS 5/7 (TAB4/PB)

Failure behaviour, brittleness index and tensile strength of tablets due to diametral compression using a cylinder probe (TAB1/P25)


In case you haven’t discovered the set of projects we included in the last version of Exponent, they were...

COSMETICS

Determination of the mechanical properties of liquid nail polish set into a film (NAIL4/FSR)

Measurement of the stiffness and toughness of nail wraps (NAIL2/TG)

Spreadability measurement of face mask samples (CRM4/SR)

Measurement of the firmness and springiness of makeup sponges (SPO1/P50)

Measure the spreadability of body moisturising creams (CRM3/SR)

Measure the energy of removal of moisturiser from sachets (CRM5/STE)

Hardness measurement of makeup pencils (PEN1/EP)

GELS

Measurement of the rupture stress, depression depth at failure and elasticity of an agar gel (GEL3/PK)

Measurement of burst strength of agar jelly pearls (GEL7/P1)

Measurement of firmness of tapioca pearls (GEL8/P1)

PASTA & NOODLES

Comparison of firmness of bulk noodles using a Triple Ring Cutting System (NOO3/TRCS)

Determination of cooked spaghetti firmness using the AACC (66-52.01) Standard method (PTA6/LKB-F2)

MATERIALS

Comparison of the Unconfined Yield Stress and flow functions of three powders (POW3/UYS)

Comparison of compaction and stress relaxation properties of three powders using 0.5” compaction probe (POW4/IPC05)

Measurement of compaction and relaxation properties of three powders using a 5mm cylinder probe (POW5/IPC5)

Measurement of Powder Cohesion, Bulk Density & Bridging using the Powder Flow Analyser

Measurement of the Compressibility, Bulk Density, Relaxation, Stiffness and Elastic Recovery of powders using a Split Vessel and Compression Probe on a Powder Flow Analyser (POW7/PFAC)

Find out more about our software

New Exponent version released

New blade for new pasta firmness standard
New blade for new pasta firmness standard

A new blade has been developed after extensive work carried out by a set of collaborators to improve the AACC method for cooked pasta quality/firmness measurement.

Whilst the existing blade (which is in accordance with AACC Standard method 66-50.01) will still be available, this new blade is to be used in accordance with the improved AACC standard method (66-52.01).

This method was approved in March 2019 by the AACCI from the study of methods for measuring spaghetti fully cooked time (FCT) and cooked spaghetti firmness. Absolute peak force, area to absolute peak force, total downstroke area, and total positive area are measured using this method.

The methods have been approved as AACCI Approved Methods 66-51.01 (sample preparation) and 66-52.01 (sample measurement), respectively, after the collaborative study showed high reproducibility between labs testing the same samples.

Read the AACC report in Cereal Foods World here...


Speed up your testing with a new indexing probe

The Multi-head Indexing Probe is another application for the Automated Linear Indexing System that allows adhesives to be tested without manual intervention between tests or the need to clean/dry probes in between sample tests.

This thereby allows for ‘walk-away’ time from testing due to the system being able to automatically index to a new probe after each test.

The video shown here gives an example of how the Automated Indexing System can operate with this Multi-head Indexing Probe.

The Multi-head Indexing Probe is also available separately for those users who just wish to speed up their testing whilst manually indexing the probe to the next clean probe during testing, to avoid stopping to clean and dry between tests.

Both ways of using this Multi-head Indexing Probe serve to increase your sample throughput to get your data collected in less time by saving the necessary cleaning to the end of multiple tests.

Speed up your testing with a new indexing probe

New Spreadability Rig attachment
New Spreadability Rig attachment

The TTC Spreadability Rig has become one of the most popular rigs used on the Texture Analyser for the measurement of both semi-solid and solid samples.

Listening to feedback we have received from users of this rig we have decided to provide the option of a catchment collar to collect the sample that has extruded from the sample pot, thereby making clean-up easier.

The collar is in the form of a ring that easily sits around the sample pot and is located at the same height to collect any sample that has overflowed. The ring is quickly removable, ready to place on the next pot, or alternatively made available in sets of 5 for each of the pots that are included with the rig.

For users who have the Spreadability Rig already, this attachment can be ordered to improve your existing testing and cleaning regime.

For those users who have not yet seen the Spreadability Rig in action, you can watch an example test by clicking or tapping here...


New Vickers & Shore Hardness probes

... for use on your Texture Analyser

Vickers Hardness Probe

Vickers testing has been a very widely-used technique for many materials for decades due to simple data analysis and test preparation.

Many applications demand a tip made from a very hard material such as diamond or sapphire, as the indenter must be significantly harder than the material under investigation. However, stainless steel is suitable for testing many softer materials such as tablets, soap, fruit and vegetables, cheese, chocolate and some polymers.

Traditionally, Vickers hardness is calculated by inputting the indentation diagonals into a standard formula. However, instrumented indentation on a Texture Analyser allows automatic hardness analysis without the use of a microscope. It also enables other parameters such as stress relaxation and elastic-plastic energy ratios to be calculated. 

This stainless steel Vickers indenter is designed for fast and repeatable hardness testing of soft materials, such as those often used in the food, pharmaceutical and personal care industries.

Shore Hardness Probes (A and D)

Shore durometers are used to determine indentation hardness of materials by using a measurement of resistance to deformation.

A and D are the two most commonly used scales and have slightly different geometries. These probes are generally used as an empirical test for quality control as well as research and development rather than the investigation of a material’s properties. It is attractive for these purposes as it is a quick test to perform, and the hardness scale is easy to understand (although cannot be equated to other indentation hardness measurements). 

The majority of Shore hardness testing is carried out on standard and vulcanised rubber, thermoplastic elastomers, gels and plastics. Before measuring any of these materials, it is necessary to refer to Shore reference tables, as some materials are better suited to Shore methods other than A and D.

Exponent software now holds suitable projects ready to test Vickers and Shore Hardness using these probes.

Click or tap here to see a summary of the types of probes and fixtures available for materials testing applications by requesting our new materials testing flier; or...

For more information on these new probes, please email us...

New Vickers & Shore Hardness probes

NEW Mini Stickiness Rig
Mini Stickiness Rig

Stickiness is a difficult attribute to measure. It can be defined as simply the force of adhesion when two surfaces are contacted with each other. In most materials, the adhesion force is a combination of an adhesive force and a cohesive force.

It is when the adhesive force is high and the cohesive force is low that material is perceived as being sticky. This stickiness property can be either a positive (desirable) or negative (undesirable) characteristic of a product but is very much product dependent. Using a Texture Analyser this characteristic can be quantified in order to determine whether the property is within the correct range for the particular product to either function or be consumed according to expectations.

The Warburtons Dough Stickiness Rig has proven very popular as a means of testing the stickiness of dough samples. The Warburtons Rig has two sizes which suit the size of the dough pieces (500g and 1000g) that come off the production line, which is the reason for its current dimensions.

However, we have been asked for a similar means of testing smaller samples which may also accommodate semi-solid materials other than dough. The new Mini Stickiness System provides a similar means of testing and is located on the Heavy Duty Platform (which will be required to use this new fixture).

To measure adhesive properties, it is imperative to have a clean separation at the probe‐material interface. The fixture consists of a sample testing box into which samples can be placed quickly and a retaining plate is placed on top of the sample, applying slight compression to the sample. A narrow blade is driven through a slot in the retaining plate, to a defined distance. This action provides operators with an accurate assessment of the compression peak and compression area of the sample, indicators of its consistency (firmness / softness).

As the blade is withdrawn upwards, Exponent software calculates the adhesion peak and adhesion area. The higher the peak, and/or larger the area, the stickier the sample.

This fixture is likely to be popular due to the high speed of the test and the ease of removing the blade for cleaning between tests therefore increasing sample throughput.


Further improvements to our Powder Flow Analysis capabilities

Users of the Powder Flow Analyser (1) will now be interested to know that we now have split vessels available for the measurement of bulk density, as well as a new probe which attaches to the PFA motor for the measurement of compressibility.

Using the split vessel (2), excess powder can now be discarded after the usual two conditioning cycles using the standard PFA blade. This leaves behind a precise volume of powder. Knowing this exact volume, along with the weight of the powder (that the PFA load cell measures), conditioned bulk density can be measured accurately and automatically.

The split vessel adds an extra benefit of a flat pre-compression surface once the extra powder has been discarded and the subsequent testing of volumes of sample that are exactly the same. At this point in the test project, the user is instructed to remove the PFA blade and attach the compressibility probe (3). Once the probe initially reaches the surface of the powder and registers a force of 10g, the “initial bulk density” is recorded.

The probe continues to push on the powder until it reaches a force of 5000g. The more compressible the powder, the further the probe will travel during this time. Here, “compressibility” is defined as the ratio between the final and initial bulk densities:

Compressibility equation

This is equivalent to the Carr Index often used for powder analysis. In general, a more free flowing powder is less compressible (as the powder particles have already flowed into a more close-packed state). This corresponds to a small increase in bulk density with stress and a low compressibility.

A more cohesive powder tends to show the opposite behaviour and a high compressibility. Holes are present in the compression probe to allow for air pockets to be released during compression from the underlying powder column. Along with the measurement of Compressibility and Bulk Density additional parameters can also be measured within this test after it has been split into three sections: Stiffness, Relaxation and Elastic Modulus. Current users of the PFA projects will notice that projects in Exponent have now been included to measure compressibility and existing projects updated to include the measurement of bulk density when using the split vessel, as shown opposite (4,5).

To optimise 'walk away time' from the PFA, you may wish to use a new project that ties all three standard PFA tests together (cohesion, PFSD and caking) and runs them sequentially on the sample – this new project is called ‘Three PFA Tests in One’ (6).

This is now included in the sample PFA projects; it is not advisable on a sample that is likely to have a high degree of segregation or attrition, but may otherwise be found useful on many samples if sample quantity and test time are limited. It is highly recommended that the help file for each test is studied before performing the sequential test, so there is a good understanding of what each test does.

The project is set up to perform tests in order with cohesion first, followed by PFSD then caking. This order has been chosen so the least destructive tests are performed before the most destructive (caking) so the tests are most representative of using a new sample each time.

We hope you will find these new processes useful.

New powder tests

Powder Vertical Shear Rig
Powder Vertical Shear Rig

Anyone who has handled powders has almost certainly come across a clogged hopper, and will know that this is caused by caking, arching or rat-holing.

To measure the tendency of a powder to show these properties, the main property to consider is the powder’s bulk resistance to the initiation of flow. This helps to imitate the consolidation that occurs under the powder’s own weight when the outlet is shut and the feeder is switched off. It is when the outlet is opened and the feeder started again that the blockages can build up.

The likelihood of a blockage forming depends on both the properties of the powder and the conditions surrounding it (humidity, temperature, stress state, hopper geometry). A vertical shear test provides a method to test the commencement of flow of a powder from a packed state, imitating a filled hopper. This test can also help to determine the correct hopper outlet size for reliable flow.

The Powder Vertical Shear Rig is now available as yet another application that can be performed on powder samples using the Texture Analyser. During the test, a known mass of powder is transferred to the main body of the rig and compressed to a known force to create a uniform cake of powder. A trapdoor below the powder cake is released, exposing a circular surface of the cake.

A probe slightly smaller than the hole then pushes a plug of the powder cake through the bottom of the rig. The powder is put into an almost perfect shear state (where the force is parallel with the powder movement).

This Community Registered Design offers a unique means of consolidating the powder, removing the applied force and testing the resulting sample without disruption by user handling.

Using a special sequence and macro created in Exponent software, which guides the user through the procedure, the important parameter of ‘vertical shear strength’ is automatically calculated once tests are complete.


Indexable Powder Compaction Rigs

We have identified a requirement for powder compaction testing at lower compaction forces than the existing methods – which require a TA.HDplus Texture Analyser.

To meet this need, two low force powder compaction fixtures – providing indexable testing of 10 samples up to 50kg (A/IPC0.5) and 10kg (A/IPC5) – have been developed, which also serve to increase useability and efficiency.

Once the first sample is centralised with the testing probe, subsequent samples can simply be moved along via a ‘quick-click’ mechanism which aligns the next test ready to go, therefore increasing sample throughput.

Compaction properties of powders can be assessed using target force or target distance modes. Many powder compacts are formed to a target distance and so the Powder Compaction Rigs can be used to assess required force. New advances in tabletting machines allow compression to a target force resulting in powder compacts with constant porosity.

The Indexable Powder Compaction Rig can be used with target force mode to assess the effect of fill level/weight on tablet thickness. In addition, by looking at the loading, hold, and unloading periods of a hold until time graph the information on compressibility, relaxation, stiffness and elastic recovery can be calculated.

Indexable powder compaction rigs

Indexable Film Support Rig
Indexable Film Support Rig

Many years ago we introduced the Film Support Rig, which was developed as a test for measuring the resilience of thin, film-like products.

The Film Support Rig is used in conjunction with the TA.XTplus texture analyser to measure the burst strength and resilience of a variety of personal care and pharmaceutical products including oral hygiene strips, plasters, bandages, polymer film, micropore tape, synthetic skin and latex, amongst other ‘Edible Film’ applications finding their way into the food industry.

By way of increasing useability and efficiency, we are now introducing the Indexable Film Support Rig, which allows the setup of multiple film samples ready for testing.

Once the first sample is centralised with the testing probe, subsequent samples can simply be moved along via a ‘quick-click’ mechanism which aligns the next test ready to go, thereby increasing sample throughput. The resilience and relaxation properties of the product can also be measured. Resilience can be assessed by depressing the film surface to a chosen distance before retracting the ball probe. The property is calculated using a ratio of the work of compression and work of withdrawal. Similarly, relaxation can be measured with the addition of a hold period within the test to allow the product’s recovery to be evaluated.

Both these properties broaden the application of the Film Support Rig. Burst strength, resilience and relaxation are important factors in determining the mechanical properties of a product, allowing manufacturers to optimise product structure and formulation.

Using the new Indexable Film Support Rig, film manufacturers can improve the speed that they assess the mechanical properties of their products during packaging and handling, ensuring that they are adequately robust.


Texture Analyser Safety Screen

A protective screen is sometimes a necessary accessory to protect the operator in the event of sample fragments leaving the test area during a test.

A Safety Screen is now available for operator protection from such fragments or violent failures of specimens such as hard and brittle materials that may shatter or create projectiles upon failure. In addition, there are instruments used by multiple and/or unskilled operators that may prefer the installation of such a screen for an extra degree of operator safety.

The screen is constructed of a strong yet lightweight acrylic panel which allows clear observation during a test whilst minimising weight. A handle at the front of the instrument provides the means to lift the screen. An interlock mechanism requires that the screen is at its lowest ‘closed’ position prior to starting a test and will interrupt the test in the event that the screen is lifted up during a test. Upon lifting, any test that is underway will immediately stop and an audible signal will be produced. The screen has dampers which enable the panel to remain at any lifted position without dropping down.

The design is such that the screen works within the existing footprint of the Texture Analyser with no additional bench space required. We are happy to inform you that it is, in fact, the only Texture Analyser that currently has safety in mind!

See more Texture Analyser accessories...

Texture analyser safety screen

Volscan Profiler Disposable Sample Platform
Disposable Sample Platform

With the Volscan Profiler, manufacturers have a precise and fast method for the measurement of volume and density of uniform and non-uniform solid products, in order to be able to routinely characterise the structure and quality of solid materials.

For customers who are looking for ways to support solid materials, or types of products, that cannot be supported by our current array of spikes using the Standard Product Support or Universal Product Support, we have a new innovative option.

Users can now choose to have an additional alternative product support which accommodates circular disposable inserts magnetically. These provide the means to ‘adhere’ their sample to the insert and allow for quick removal and replacement between tests. Disposable inserts are provided in batches of 50 and may or may not be reusable, according to the chosen adhesive for sample anchoring.


New Unconfined Yield Stress Method

There is now a new method for measuring Unconfined Yield Strength of Powder, using your existing Texture Analyser.

In industries that handle powders on a regular basis, it is very important to understand how a powder or granular material responds to pressure. In storage, the weight of powder in a container exerts pressure on the particles at the bottom. If the powder has good flow behaviour, it will not consolidate and will flow out of the silo or hopper without sticking – this is very desirable.

Unconfined Yield Stress is a simple technique that can be used to analyse the flow behaviour of many different types of powders and the change in this behaviour with different consolidation stresses and times. The measurement is made by filling a chosen weight of powder sample into a tube and using a compression piston which applies a chosen consolidation force for a specified time. After consolidation, the tube is slid upwards above the consolidation probe and held up via a support disc, before the probe moves back down to compress the freestanding column of powder which “yields”.

Formulae are built into Exponent software which are able to collect the required parameters and calculate the Unconfined Yield Stress which then allows a “flow factor” to be plotted and used to compare between samples. The larger the flow factor, the more easily the powder will flow after any given consolidation pressure.

This assessment of powder characteristics is yet another measurement that the Texture Analyser can perform on powdered materials, alongside the functionality offered by the Powder Flow Analyser.

Unconfined Yield Stress Rig

New Nail Polish Adhesion Rig and Method
Nail Polish Adhesion Rig

A Nail Polish Adhesion Rig and method have been developed by Stable Micro Systems to provide the solution to this assessment requirement.

During the polish drying time test, a channel 20cm long is filled with polish to a depth of 0.5 mm and wiped level using a glass rod. At this point a timer within the Exponent software test sequence is started. This channel is seated on top of the Adhesive Indexing System that has ten detents and so ten test sites are available by simply sliding the platform along. A 1 inch detented ball probe* is used for the tests, which can be turned to allow a clean test site without either replacing the probe or the requirement to clean and dry the probe between tests. This is used to perform an adhesive test at the first test site.

A specific force is held for 5 seconds to allow a bond to form. The probe is then quickly withdrawn, breaking the nail polish bonds, and the force to do this is measured. The channel is moved along to the next site and the test repeated. A set of ten tests are performed in this way with pre-set time delays between the tests. Tests are performed over the whole drying period of the polish.

The series of adhesion tests is automated by a unique test sequence developed in Exponent software, with parameters such as the delay between tests, the number of repeats, applied force and holding time adjusted by the user if necessary. Additionally, an analysis macro is available to measure the above four properties across all repeats at the press of a button. With the addition of instruction messages in the sequence this provides a user-friendly solution for this type of product testing.


100kg Force Capacity in a New Compact Instrument

Stable Micro Systems has once again extended its range of Texture Analysers and presented a single column instrument capable of measuring force up to 100kg.

The addition of the TA.XTplus100 model also offers an improved distance resolution which is doubled to 0.0005mm. This capability will be of major interest to those (particularly in the pharmaceutical industry) who require fine distance control/ measurement of, for example, small granules/beads/particles.

This instrument model also offers the following benefits:

• More capacity for the same laboratory bench space (footprint).

• Stiffer structure for higher force applications – half micron at 20mm/s

• The ability to use those attachments – e.g. Ottawa Cell, Kramer Shear Cell – that usually require the high force capacity of a TA.HDplus.

• An extended height model option at this 100kg capacity to provide more testing distance for high force extensional applications.

• More location points for the attachment of accessories such as temperature devices, lights, humidity probe, cameras etc.

Visit the TA.XTplus100 page...

TA.XTplus100 texture analyser

Lifting the Lid on Food & Drink Packaging Tests
Ring Pull Rig

A new rig has been developed to allow manufacturers of food tins and beverage cans to measure the force needed to lift the ring pull and open the container.

This new development could signal the end of consumer frustration with trying to open metal packaging that is too stiff, or where the ring pull detaches from the lid.

Understanding and quantifying the force needed to use a ring pull is vital for both packaging manufacturers and their customers to ensure safety, functionality and consumer experience. The force required to open tins and cans is dictated by the shape of the ring pull and lid, their materials and the depth of the groove in the lid. Until now, only subjective methods were available for assessing ‘force to pull’, which made it difficult to identify the design that provided both ease of use and packaging integrity.

The rig works by locking the product in place on the TA.XTplus texture analyser and attaching a hook adapter to its ring pull. The hook is pulled upwards, mimicking the action of a person opening the can, while measuring the force needed to lift the ring pull and finally break the seal.

The universal design of the Ring Pull Rig means non-circular shapes, such as meat or fish cans, can also be accurately analysed. The flexibility of Exponent software has also allowed the development of a special test for tins that require a two-step pulling action. The rig first measures the force needed to break the seal before pausing and allowing the user to adjust the hook direction or rotate the tin. The second part of the test then measures the force required to peel and remove the metal lid completely.


Asian Noodle Rig – Wheat Marketing Centre Method

Extensive work has been carried out at the Wheat Marketing Center in Oregon, USA by Gary Hou and his team.

They use a particular type of perspex blade on their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure noodle firmness which has now become internationally popular and therefore has been included in the Stable Micro Systems probe and fixture range.

The rig can be seen in use here in a video of Noodle firmness testing...

There are few people in the world who know as much about noodles as Gary Hou of the Wheat Marketing Center.

In addition to the hands-on short courses that he offers through the Wheat Marketing Center, he is also editor of 'Asian Noodles: Science, Technology and Processing'.

Asian Noodle Rig

How to Speed Through your Sample Testing
Magnetic probe adapters

For texture analyser users who are looking for ways to increase their sample testing throughput and improve the convenience of probe attachment to their texture analyser, we now have two innovative options.

Users can now choose to have a converter fitted to their probes to allow for quick removal and replacement between tests.

Either a ‘magnetic’ coupling or ‘quick-twist’ attachment for the probe is available (in batches of 5). These quick probe removal and replacement options are the first of their kind in texture analysis and support the need for test procedures that have efficiency and/or convenience in mind.

Whilst a magnetic coupling might be the favoured attachment action it is not suited to the testing of samples that do not have a flat surface or samples that have an adhesive force measurement exceeding 1.5kg. The ‘quick-twist’ probe attachment is suited to all applications and load cells.

These have Community Design Registration – proving our commitment to new innovation testing solutions.


New Texture Analysis Device: The Triple Ring Cutting System

Bulk testing can now be performed with a Triple Ring Cutting System which allows the determination of the textural properties of small non-uniform samples in smaller quantities.

The design of the test head is based around a cutting array of concentric rings which provides a large cutting surface area in a relatively small device. This enables the testing of a monolayer of sample in a 95mm diameter vessel – a suitable choice to contain the sample to an optimum depth for cutting.

The concentric rings cut into the sample during a test (to a chosen distance above the vessel base) and force the sample to breakdown whereby the force during this procedure is gathered. The higher the maximum force and area under the curve the firmer is the sample which would be perceived by the consumer upon eating. A centralising platform ensures the test vessel can be quickly located in the ideal test position whilst a magnetic coupling of the test head allows for quick removal and replacement between tests for cleaning.

This magnetic quick removal system is the first of its kind in texture analysis and supports the need for test procedures that have efficiency in mind. The Cutting rings on the device are also removable for easy cleaning once all tests are complete.

The Triple Ring Cutting System is a Community Registered Design and is a continuation of the ever increasing range of innovative solutions for texture analysis.

Triple Ring Cutting System

Volscan Profiler is now an AACC Standard Method
VolScan Profiler

At the 100th AACC Conference in Minneapolis in October 2015, the Volscan Profiler was awarded the Certificate of Approval as a Standard Method with reference 10-16.01.

This is good news for all operators in the cereal science and bakery product testing world who are encouraged by (or have greater preference for) methods that are approved by the AACC.

The Method was taken through a collaborative study with 9 other laboratories in 4 countries who followed the procedure and reported their results from the measurement of the same samples. The measurement of Volume, Length, Height and Width are all part of the Standard Method, making it the method with more scope in parameters and breadth of bakery samples than any similar method using competitive equipment.

The Volscan Profiler has also reported results that are more accurate and repeatable than any other volume measuring instrument.

If you would like to view a video of the Standard Method, please click here... 



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