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View some recent stories about how the world of texture analysis is constantly developing in academia...

Humanoid robots image


A humanoid robot is being developed at the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, New Zealand, for implementing and evaluating dynamic gait algorithms.

Force sensors are placed on the bottom of the feet of the robot to provide feedback for the control system. The use of resistive force sensors is being investigated as an inexpensive and lightweight alternative to multi-axis force/torque sensors.

However, resistive force sensors have a more limited accuracy and response time. Sensors from three companies have been tested: Sensitronic, Interlink, and Inaba Rubber.

The sensors were tested with a TA.XTplus texture analyser, which is capable of applying specific forces at different rates.

The sensors were tested for repeatability of response, drift, and response time to both application and removal of the force. An inverting op-amp is used to convert the force measurement of the sensor to an output voltage, which is read by an oscilloscope.

The force measurements from the texture analyser and the voltage output from the oscilloscope are recorded digitally.

The data obtained from the measurements is analysed and the potential uses and limits of the sensors as feedback mechanisms in a bipedal humanoid robot are being determined. 

To read more, follow:

Apple testing with VolScan Profiler


Scientists at Shenyang Agricultural University have been using their VolScan Profiler to measure the physical properties of 6 apple varieties to assess the volume variations.

The qualities of apples are important for the consumer. These quality attributes can be described by colour, texture and physical attributes such as size and shape.

The VolScan Profiler provides a non-contact laser based method of determining volume and dimensional parameters of products.

Read more at:

Compression test on cake


The American Institute of Baking (AIB)  has a collection of procedures for testing the texture of common bakery products with a texture analyser.

Bakery products come in every imaginable type and shape, so meaningful textural comparisons must account for the different product geometries.

The test procedures typically manage differences in geometry by reducing the products' size to a common denominator. Generally, the objective of most of these tests is to measure the firmness and shelf life of a baked product, summaries of a few such methods are highlighted below.


High profile textural characteristics of muffins are their firmness and 'elasticity'. The standard AIB Muffin Firmness and Elasticity method measures initial firmness at two depths (6.25mm and 7mm) and then the residual firmness after an incremental 30 seconds of hold time using a 18mm rounded edge probe. The residual force after 30 seconds holding time is then divided by the initial force at that depth to calculate percent 'elasticity' (often also called relaxation). This test is performed on samples which have had their 'crowns' removed so as to display a flat surface for correct probe to product contact for repeatability purposes.


The AIB sample preparation procedure for cake uses a template to provide two 1" wide slices from the centre of the cake which are then rested on their side for testing. A 1" diameter cylinder probe penetrates the crumb to 6mm in three different areas close to the centre of the crumb and the maximum force is recorded and used as an indication of firmness.


According to the AIB standard procedure bagels are typically tested on days 1, 3 and 7 after baking. The bagels are sliced to 1" thick and then an 18mm diameter rounded edge probe is penetrated into the bagel to a depth of 6.2mm. The maximum force value is recorded and used as an indication of firmness. A doughnut, which is of very similar form, could be tested in the same way.


Samples of 17mm height are prepared by removal of the crust and crown (with the aid of a sample preparation template). With the inside crumb facing upward a 1" diameter cylinder probe is used to penetrate the bun to a depth of 5mm. As with bagels, the maximum force value is recorded and used as an indication of firmness.

Visit our Bakery Product attachments page for details of a wide range of attachments designed for use in bakery environments.

Cosmetics - powder brush

sensory profiling of cosmetic products: More efficient testing investigated

This is an article written by Milica Lukic at the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Cosmetology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Serbia and Montenegro.

Sensory evaluation studies are performed in order to obtain full sensory profile of the cosmetic product. Since these studies are comprehensive, time-consuming and consequently expensive, the potential use of instrumental measurements that correlate with sensory properties is being extensively assessed.

The existing studies confirm that direct and good correlations could be found between instrumentally measured parameters and some sensory attributes. Certain sensory attributes, used for the description of the product in pick up and rub in phase, could be predicted to some extent by instrumental, i.e. rheological and textural measurements.

Therefore, sensory profiling could be simplified and consequently more cost-effective with the employment of instrumental tools.

To view this article, click here...

Tablet fracture

New Brittleness Index for
Compacted Tablets

'A New Brittleness Index for Compacted Tablets' is a paper recently published by researchers at the University of Copenhagen using a Texture Analyser.

A dimensionless index that quantifies the brittle or ductile character of tablets is presented.

The work of failure (WOF) of crushed or broken flat tablets is calculated by numerical integration of the force/displacement measurement in a flexure tester. The ratio between WOF and the crushing force (F) corrected for the diameter of the tablet (D) is proposed to express the brittle/ductile index (BDI).

The robust measure of brittleness with an acceptable accuracy is obtained with only a minor influence of the tablet diameter and the speed of platen.

Click here to download this paper.

Dr Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy


Congratulations to Dr Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy of the University of Reading, who recently received the McBain Medal for his research into how water-soluble polymers behave in solution mixtures - using the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser.

Dr. Khutoryanskiy has rapidly gained an international reputation for his imaginative use of polymer and colloid science in the development of novel materials for biomedical applications.

His research interests include water-soluble polymers and hydrogels, mucoadhesive polymeric materials, stimuli-responsive polymers and polymeric nanomaterials for applications in drug and gene delivery and coatings. He is known for his innovative work developing new materials to help better administer drug delivery, improve wound treatment, and other innovations to fight disease. 

From the University of Reading News: "His research of the behaviour of water-soluble polymers in solution mixtures has resulted in a number of advances leading to the formulation of nanomaterials, soft and superabsorbent hydrogels, thin films and microcapsules. His research team has extensively studied the ability of various pharmaceutical polymers to 'stick' to mucosal surfaces, such as that found in the mouth, stomach or on the surface of the eye, allowing new ways to administer drugs". 

Nanomedicine, the medical application of nanotechnology, is a new, diverse and rapidly-growing field. The colloid, polymer and interface sciences have their part to play, in areas like drug, protein, gene and peptide targeting and delivery, nanoparticle targeting, and the control of bioadhesion for delivery at mucous membranes, especially. Many soft-matter scientists are now involved in developing new concepts and materials applicable to nanomedicine in one way or another. 

The McBain Medal is an early-career award offered jointly by the two sponsoring groups.

Rat femur testing

Rat femur testing at the University of Zagreb

Researchers at the School of Medicine in the University of Zagreb has been studying the biomechanical properties of bones from rats treated with sevelamer.

Sevelamer has been used for ten years to lower high blood phosphorus (phosphate) levels in patients who are on dialysis due to severe kidney disease. Dialysis removes some phosphate from your blood, but it is difficult to remove enough to keep phosphate levels balanced. Decreasing blood phosphate levels can help keep bones strong, prevent unsafe buildup of minerals in the body, and possibly decrease the risk of heart disease and strokes that can result from high phosphate levels.

Sevelamer works by holding onto phosphate from the diet so that it can pass out of your body. It was given to rats for 25 weeks in a standard diet. Tests utilised a three-point bending test to determine the mechanical properties of the cortical bone of the mid-shaft femur, while an indentation test was used to determine the mechanical properties of cancellous bone in the marrow cavity of the distal femoral metaphysis.

Parameters analysed included: maximum load, stiffness, energy absorbed, toughness and ultimate strength and highlighted that sevelamer significantly improves bone biomechanical properties, mainly affecting trabecular bone quality.

The full details of this paper entitled 'Biochemical Properties of Bones from Rats Treated with Sevelamer' can be found in Coll. Antropol. 35 (2011) 2: 557-563. The authors, Natasa Draca, Ana Tikvica, Domgoj Eljuga, Damir Semenski, Mladen Brncic and Slobodan Vukicevic, are based in the School of Medicine Laboratory for Mineralized Tissues, University Hospital Centre Department of Surgery, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering & Naval Architecture and the Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology at the University of Zagreb, Croatia.

Texture analysis patents

New Patents That Utilise The TA.XTPlus Texture Analyser

The TA.XTplus Texture Analyser is frequently listed in many interesting new patents - such as these examples:

GELS FOR TRANSDERMAL DELIVERY: Hydrogels may be used for transdermal delivery of bioactive agents, including drugs, and may also be useful as conductive compositions for use with electrodes.
LOW SOLUBLE SOLIDS ACID GELS AND METHODS FOR MAKING SAME: A gel composition including a low ester pectin - the method includes dissolving a pectin in an acetic acid solution, heating and cooling the mixture.

COATED MULTI-REGION CONFECTIONERY AND METHODS OF MAKING THE SAME: Particulate coated multi-region structures prepared from sugar free confectionery products and chewing gum.
FOOD GRADE DRY FILM COATING COMPOSITION AND METHODS OF MAKING AND USING THE SAME: A dry film coating composition comprising a cellulose film former, an oligofructose fibre, a plasticising agent, and a processing aid; also a film coating suspension.  
RAPIDLY DISINTEGRATING FILMS FOR DELIVERY OF PHARMACEUTICAL OR COSMETIC AGENTS: Disintegratable films containing a mixture of high molecular weight and low molecular weight water soluble components, and a pharmaceutically or cosmetically active ingredient.
DUAL CURE ADHESIVES: A dual cure adhesive that can be designed to have a proper balance of properties by choosing formulation materials to meet certain inequalities. 
COMPOSITIONS CONTAINING ACRYLIC THICKENER: A composition, especially a cosmetic composition, comprising at least one acrylic thickener having a high viscosity and a low solids content; methods of using such compositions.
ANTIPERSPIRANT SOFT SOLID COMPOSITIONS COMPRISING A WAX BLEND: An antiperspirant soft solid composition includes a wax blend with glyceryl tribehenate, a first wax additive, and a second wax additive.
SURFACE MODIFICATION OF PRESSURE-SENSITIVE ADHESIVES WITH NANOPARTICLES: Adhesive articles having surface-modified nanoparticles located on or near at least one surface of a layer of pressure sensitive adhesive: methods of making such articles.
ENTERIC COATING COMPOSITIONS AND METHODS OF MAKING AND USING THE SAME: An enteric coating composition including about 0.01% to about 10% resin and about 0.01% to about 10% polymer; methods for coating a substrate with the enteric coating compositions.
ULTRASONICALLY-TREATED NUTRITIONAL PRODUCTS HAVING EXTENDED SHELF LIFE: Disclosed are nutritional products and nutritional bars, manufactured utilising high power ultrasound in combination with an extrusion or slabbing process, and having increased shelf life.
CONFECTIONERY PRODUCTS CONTAINING ERYTHRITOL: The invention relates to products selected from the group consisting of hard candies, brittle, caramel, and toffee, preferably hard candies containing maltodextrin, and at least 93% w/w erythritol.
COSMETIC COMPOSITIONS OF REACTIVELY BLENDED COPOLYMERS: Cosmetic and personal care compositions having film-formers that are two-phase polymers; these provide enhanced durability for cosmetics, hair care, and skin care products.
FAT FILLING WITH VEGETABLE FATS AND SWEETENERS: A composition comprising fat and sweetener, useful as fat filling in various food products, in particular in confectionery and bakery applications. Provides a cooling effect to food products, in particular to chocolate.

Handcream image

Measuring skinfeel properties

Scientists at the University of Le Havre have been using their Texture Analyser to investigate the skinfeel properties of creams.

The texture of oil-in-water emulsions was characterised by sensory and instrumental analyses. The main objective of the study was to investigate the possibility of predicting skinfeel properties of cosmetic creams by instrumentally measured parameters.

The present work was based on O/W emulsions, as typical cosmetic creams, each only varying by the texturing agent. A methodology of sensory texture analysis was developed in order to discriminate and describe sensory texture properties of the emulsions.

Eight skinfeel attributes were selected, accurate definitions and strict evaluation procedures were defined. These attributes were Gloss, Integrity of Shape, Penetration Force, Compression Force, Stringiness, Difficulty of Spreading, Absorbency and Stickiness. The instrumental characterisation of the emulsions was mainly focused on rheology and texture analysis. Various rheological measurements, as notably flow, creep and dynamic oscillation tests, were performed. Moreover, an extensive texture analysis was investigated on creams using a Texture Analyser, by applying conventional tests of penetration, compression, and extrusion, and also by setting up additional tests, specifically designed to be well-adapted to our sensory protocols.

More than 80 instrumental, textural parameters were finally collected on each cream. Pearson's correlation coefficients, calculated on averaged data, showed highly significant correlations between instrumental parameters and sensory textural attributes. In order to predict the skinfeel properties of emulsions, linear, stepwise multilinear and Partial Least Square (PLS) regressions were performed on averaged data. Satisfactory prediction models were established for six attributes, confirmed by using cross validation.

The attributes Gloss, Compression Force, Stringiness and Difficulty of Spreading, were each one well predicted by one instrumental parameter (R²>0.93). A good prediction of Integrity of Shape was possible by measuring two oscillation parameters obtained from the same strain sweep test (R²=0.869). Penetration force was also successfully predicted by using a combination of textural and rheological data (R²=0.931).

To read more about the methods used and results obtained by the team, click here.

Acoustic Envelope Detector
Powder Flow Analyser



Researchers at the University of Torino in Italy have been using the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser and Acoustic Envelope Detector to investigate wine grapes. 

The following papers have been found which outline the work being carried out to assess both the mechanical properties and the acoustic indices of ripening.

ROLLE, L., GIACOSSA, S., TORCHIO, F. & RIO SEGADE, S. (2012). Changes in Acoustic and Mechanical Properties of Cabernet Sauvignon Seeds during Ripening. Journal of Enology & Viticulture, 63 (3), 413-418.


Instrumental mechanical and acoustic variables were determined for the berry seeds of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested at different ripening stages. The main goal of this research was to assess the influence of the developmental changes on the texture properties of the grape seed to provide useful indicators of maturity.

Despite the fact that most of the instrumental texture properties were characterised by a large intra-sample variability, the following indices could be considered indicative of maturity: the deformation index, acoustic energy, and average sound pressure.

A correlation study between the instrumental mechanical and acoustic variables showed that the Young's modulus of elasticity proved to have the strongest positive correlation with the acoustic variables.

ROLLE, L., GIORDANO, M., GIACOSA, S., VINCENZI, S., RIO SEGADE, S., TORCHIO, F., PERRONE & GERBI, V. (2012). CIEL *a*b*parameters of white dehydrated grapes as quality markers according to chemical composition, volatile profile and mechanical properties. Anal Chim Acta. Jun 30;732:105-13.

ROLLE., L, TORCHIO, F., FERRANDINO, A. & GUIDONI, S. (2012). Influence of Wine-Grape Skin Hardness on the Kinetics of Anthocyanin Extraction. International Journal of Food Properties, 15 (2), 249-261.

ROLLE, L., SIRET, R., RIO SEGADE, S., MAURY, C., GERBI, V. & JOURJON, F. (2012).  Instrumental Texture Analysis Parameters as Markers of Table-Grape and Winegrape Quality: A Review. Am. J. Enol. Vitic. 63 (3), 11-28.

The following research has also been performed on the Powder Flow Analyser assessing a variety of powder types.

WANG, W. & ZHOU, W. (2012).  Characterisation of spray-dried soy sauce powders using maltodextrins as carrier. Journal of Food Engineering, 109 (3), 399-405.

JANJATOVIC, D., BENKOVIC, M., SRECEC, S., JEZEK, D., SPOLJARIC, I. & BAUMAN, I. (2011). Assessment of powder flow characteristics in incoherent soup concentrates. Advanced Powder Technology - available online 23 July.

Researchers Bauman and Benkovic have also used their Powder Flow Analyser for the assessment of commercial infant formula powders.

BENKOVIC, M. & BAUMAN, I. (2009). Flow properties of commercial infant formula powders. World Academy of Science, Engineering & Technology, 54.

Chocolate testing


In today's chocolate manufacturing, automated equipment has replaced the manual processes which traditionally relied largely on the experience and skill of the chocolatier.

For quality control purposes and hence customer satisfaction it is increasingly important to apply the right processing conditions and controlling parameters, such as the time, the temperature, the moisture content and the relative humidity of the surrounding air.

Researchers at Leeds University have investigated the influences of these factors during the cooling stage of the chocolate manufacturing process to assess the ease of demoulding. Experimental determination of chocolate adhesion to a mould was performed using a fixture specifically developed for this work.

The surface adhesion force (or stickiness) was measure by pulling a flat polycarbonate probe off a solidified chocolate sample as shown schematically below imitating the forces involved in the demoulding process of commercial chocolate bars.

The results demonstrated that processing parameters, like temperature, contact time, and the relative humidity of the surrounding environment, have a significant impact on chocolate crystallisation and solidification processes and on the adhesion of chocolate to a mould surface.

A Peltier Controlled Cabinet made it feasible to have a controlled experimental temperature range between 0° and 50°C.

The hardness of the solidified chocolate samples was also measured to determine the effect of different processing conditions on the chocolate using a 2mm stainless steel cylinder probe to penetrate to a depth of 5mm. The maximum force obtained during this penetration was taken as a measure of the hardness.

Kelp testing


The importance of kelp elasticity to South Island Maori (and others): an unexpected relationship

Katja Schweikert is a doctorate student in the Department of Botany at the University of Otago - the oldest in New Zealand - which has an international reputation for research excellence and leads the latest Government university research performance assessment.

Katja's research was geared towards investigating the environmental influences on the kelp as it grows; and she was particularly interested in finding a method of quantifying and comparing the strength of the various kelp samples.

A decrease in natural resources has brought to light a corresponding increase in awareness of the value of traditional practices and knowledge in the management of natural resources. The Maori people of New Zealand's South Island have used rimurapa or bullkelp (Durvillaea antarctica) for hundreds of years to preserve their staple food (poha titi), the seasonally harvested titi bird, muttonbird or Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus). They do this by inserting the birds into a kelp bag containing brine.

It is clear from observations by local residents that many areas along the South Island's shores, where once healthy and dense stocks of bullkelp grew, have been completely decimated by a range of adverse environmental factors. In addition, some kelp stocks have lost the very qualities which are so vital for the traditional uses such as poha-making. These most regrettable developments have been proven to correspond in part to an increase in the discharge of untreated sewage and in part to changes in land use.

Although the University's Food Science department has its own HD texture analyser, Stable Micro Systems' New Zealand distributor, Food Tech Solutions, offered Katya the opportunity to bring her samples to Auckland for detailed examination. The test procedure selected utilised a tension project originally set up for packaging film, which proved to work extremely well with this rather different natural material!

In a preliminary experiment, traditionally cured kelp from a site with low human impact (Brighton) was compared to samples from locations badly affected by sewage (Tahuna) and both sewage and industrial effluent (Bluff). In addition, samples of freshly harvested kelp from a site with low human impact (Kaka Point) were tested.

Elasticity was used as an indicator of tissue health, as local users described a change in the tissue from highly elastic to powdery and easily torn. The initial results indicated a clear reduction in elasticity in samples from Bluff when compared to those from Brighton or Tahuna. It was also discovered that the elasticity of traditionally cured kelp was between 4 and 6 times higher than that of freshly harvested material. How this difference in blade elasticity correlates to environmental contamination and dislodgement, and hence to the loss of resource and habitat has yet to be fully investigated.

So here we have seen something a little different from our usual subject matter, and an indication of the adaptability of a Stable Micro Systems texture analyser - and of our distributors.

... and see some detailed case studies from our users - discover how they benefit from texture analysis...

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