What is a Texture Analyser? How does a Texture Analyser work?
A Texture Analyser is a texture measurement system that moves in either an up or down direction to compress or stretch a sample.
The travelling arm is fitted with a load cell and records the force response of the sample to the deformation that is imposed on it. Force, Distance and Time data is collected and usually presented as a curve on a graph which, when analysed, indicates the texture of the sample.
Texture Analysers provide the operators with ultimate control and test flexibility for measuring all types of physical/textural properties of solid and semi-solid systems by their ability to accommodate a wide range of probes and fixtures (devices to test food structure) that can be attached to the Texture Analyser base and/or arm.
A Texture Analyser is the source of ultimate objective quantification of whether the food is ‘more crispy, firm, sticky, etc. as a result of a new technique or the addition of a certain ingredient to the formulation.
What does a Texture Analyser measure?
Depending upon the chosen probe/fixture, the Texture Analyser can perform compression, extension, cutting, extruding, bending and shearing tests – and in doing so, can measure properties such as fracturability, chewiness, stickiness, consistency, bite force and springiness, to name but a few.
There is a vast range of physical properties which can be measured by a Texture Analyser.
All Stable Micro Systems Connect series Texture Analysers are capable of operation by the Touchscreen Interface as standard, as well as by a desktop or laptop PC. In addition, they may also be operated from a mobile phone or tablet using the Browser Interface.
Whether you are new to texture analysis/mechanical property measurement, are an experienced super user, or have specific requirements, you have the flexibility to choose how you want to interact with your instrument.
We offer three ways to run your instrument. Each can be used independently from each other, or you can have a combination of all three.
Standalone Operation | Touchscreen Interface
The Touchscreen is supplied with all of our range and is capable of controlling your instrument and running simple tests.
It is ideal for providing a quick result with some single point analysis, such as Maximum Forces in both compression and tension tests. It will even give you a visual summary curve of your test, providing a quick check to see that your test has performed as you expected. Using the Touchscreen, you will be able to:
• Control and calibrate your instrument and run simple tests
• Access a summary graph for each test and see a quick tabulated result
• Transfer files to Exponent Connect software for further analysis (if required)
• Operate your instrument in another language
• Control security settings for operators and set up network connections (if required).
Connect to Server | Browser Interface*
The Browser Interface is also supplied with all of our Texture Analysers and has many of the capabilities provided within the Touchscreen Interface.
However, it offers the additional convenience of running on your tablet, phone or laptop. This means that you no longer need a dedicated PC connected to your Texture Analyser. Just open your instrument’s web view, run your tests and analyse your data back at your desktop with Exponent Connect or Exponent Connect Lite software.
Using the Browser Interface, you will be able to:
• Operate your instrument using your own device on a network connection
• Setup and control multiple instruments using one device, either nearby or remotely from your desktop, so that your laboratory staff can be running tests that you have configured
• Control and calibrate your instrument and run simple tests
• Transfer files to Exponent Connect for further analysis (if required)
Direct Connection | Exponent Connect
Exponent Connect software is our feature-rich texture analysis package of choice for the professional or advanced operator.
It provides full control and customisation, ultra-fast data collection (up to 2000 points per second) and a huge range of data analysis features for your every application. This fully established software package provides long term flexibility of operation and analysis with new features constantly added to expand the wealth of testing opportunities.
Using Exponent Connect software you will be able to:
• Have full control of how you want to test your products
• Customise your data analysis and presentation formats
• Collect data from a wide range of other measurement devices simultaneously
• Communicate to LIMS
• Add Enhanced Security Options for all operators
• Connect to your instrument locally or install it on a desktop in your office and operate your instrument via network*.
*A network connection is required.
For use with the TA.XTExpressC model, and for texture solutions that do not require any other additional data collection devices connected to the Texture Analyser, Exponent Connect Lite may be a simpler option for your application.
Why Measure Texture?
Successful production and quality control depends on the ability to measure and test at the various stages of production of a product. If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it!
It will certainly prove an indispensable tool when you need to quantify the texture or overall physical properties of your 'gold standard' product for future comparison in manufacture – the key to maintaining consistent textural quality. You could even use it to compare the texture of your product with your competitors!
Typical Texture Analysis Tests
Depending upon the chosen probes or texture analysis grips and fixtures used, the Texture Analyser is capable of performing a wide variety of test types.
A comprehensive list of these fixtures and their typical application are shown on the Texture Analysis Probes and Fixtures page.
Perhaps the most common use of a Texture Analyser is in the measurement of the hardness of food or the firmness testing of products across a wide range of industries and historically popular is the method of Texture Profile Analysis (TPA) which is a two cycle compression test which automatically calculates a range of food texture properties.
Where will I use a Texture Analyser?
More often not, texture analysis is applied in a practical and open manner. Core characteristics are identified through sensory or consumer studies, and tests are undertaken by replicating the conditions through instrumental means.
Texture measurements can be used for:
a) Research and Development: In longer term studies to understand micro and macro structures or in the development of new ingredients or unique products.
b) New Product Development: In faster moving and shorter term investigations to benchmark key attributes. The Texture Analyser would assist in the development of products with specific consumer markets in mind and monitoring of the effect of formulation and shelf life changes.
c) Process Development: The Texture Analyser would be used in an engineering approach to measurement to form an understanding of key stages in the product process. The effects of these stages and how they can be manipulated to maximise product quality would be observed. From each of these environments a technologist would learn and transfer information to its practical application at the factory level.
Factory based texture measurements must be simple, reproducible and reliable. Factory measurements on the Texture Analyser would provide real benefits in terms of reducing product waste, production line down time and reduced consumer satisfaction from product non-conformance.
True quality control comes from the ability to use the Texture Analyser to measure manufactured products to desired quality standards and understand how you can alter the formulation or processing conditions should they deviate beyond acceptable tolerance levels.
The texture of a product is a critical consideration to the consumer – if they don't like how something feels, they won't buy it again. If the optimum physical properties of a component or ingredient are wrong you won't be able to maintain optimum processing efficiency and as such will experience higher product wastage and down time.
Worst case scenario – if you can't give the supermarkets what they want and in a consistent manner, they will simply move to a new supplier.