Texture Analysis Research News


Tribology testing continues on the Texture Analyser

Scientists from the University of Queensland have been investigating tribology and its growing use in the study of food oral processing and sensory perception. Studies on “soft-tribology” have emerged to provide knowledge and tools to predict oral behaviour and assess the performance of foods and beverages. This study has shown that there is a now a comprehensive set of fundamental literature, mainly based on soft contacts in the Mini-traction machine with rolling ball on disk configuration, which provides a baseline for interpreting tribological data from complex food systems.

Tribology-sensory relationships do currently exist. However, they are restricted to the specific formulations and tribological configuration used, and cannot usually be applied more broadly. A modified TA.XT2 Texture Analyser with a ‘plate on three balls’ configuration has been used to measure friction in an oral processing context. With a careful and rigorous formulation/experimental design, the researchers envisage tribological tools to provide insights into the sensory perception of foods in combination with other in vitro techniques such as rheology, particle sizing or characterisation of surface interactions. Read more

Within this field of interest, researchers from Zhejiang Gongshang University have been investigating the oral tribology of saliva-tea compound mixtures, correlating sweet aftertaste perception and friction coefficient. Sweet aftertaste (Huigan) is a sensation perceived after drinking tea, and lasts in the mouth and throat, leading to salivation for an extended period of time.

The study aimed to reveal the underpinning mechanisms of Huigan and its influencing factors. A tribology approach was applied in conjunction with sensory analysis and other physiology assessments. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to manufacture an in-house tribometer setup for lubrication studies. The Huigan intensity perceived by the sensitive group was found to be highly correlated with the friction coefficient measured, especially at sliding speeds lower than 0.5 mm/s. Read more

Scientists from Wageningen University & Research have been investigating the friction behaviour of intact soft solid foods and food boli. The structure of soft solid foods changes dynamically throughout its consumption; food is reduced in size, mixed with saliva and enzymes, and a cohesive mass is formed. During this process, the mechanical properties of food change, as does the perception.

In order to know how processing and composition of foods affect sensory perception, the dynamic changes in the rheological and tribological behaviour of foods have to be studied. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform compression tests on soft solid food gels and sausages. The decrease in friction by saliva was found to be boli particle dependent. Read more

Whilst not performing tribology tests, scientists from Wageningen University have also been investigating strategies to compensate for undesired gritty sensations in foods. The study aimed to investigate whether the addition of macroscopic particles or fat to quark can be used to compensate for negative texture sensations such as grittiness by either psychological or physical mechanisms. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to characterise the mechanical properties of granola and peach gel pieces using a cutting test.

The addition of crunchy granola pieces or fat was a useful strategy to shift and increase dominance of positive and liked attributes, leading to an increase of overall liking, although negative sensations such as grittiness caused by microparticles were still perceived. This approach could be used to compensate for undesired texture sensations in different types of foods, such as high protein foods. Read more

More recently, Jianshe Chen and his colleagues have continued to make progress using the Texture Analyser for tribology and have published the following paper: ‘A new design of soft texture analyser tribometer (STAT) for in vitro oral lubrication study’ which uses 3D printed components. Read more

Girl licking lips

The Packaging Research Revolution: Biodegradable Polymer Foams and Rubbers
Foam trays on production machine

A major focus of current research in both industrial and academic institutions is the development of suitable alternatives to single use plastics. This has been driven by the worldwide push for a cleaner environment, and both the manufacture and disposal of plastics are harmful in separate ways. Packaging is a large contributor to plastic production, particularly the single use sector. One method of reducing this production is to replace traditional polymers with biodegradable alternatives. A drawback of biodegradable plastics is their reduced strength and toughness. Mechanical properties are an important consideration when it comes to packaging, so their control is a crucial stage in the R&D process. Consequently, Stable Micro Systems feature heavily in publications from this field. The following are a selection of recent journal papers, specifically those focussing on polymer foams and rubbers.

Researchers from Ohio State University have been investigating the optimal mechanical properties of biodegradable natural rubber-toughened PHBV bioplastics intended for food packaging applications. The incorporation of natural rubber into PHBV through melt blending improves its flexibility and toughness but sacrifices tensile strength, due to low rubber modulus and insufficient compatibility between the two materials. These unbalanced mechanical properties restrict the use of this blend in packaging applications. The objective of this study was to optimise the mechanical properties of PHBV/natural rubber blends by using peroxide and coagent. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure the strength of seals in a tensile test. Optimal mechanical performance of natural rubber toughened PHBV bioplastic was obtained using a combination of testing techniques. Read more

Researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul have been investigating biodegradable starch-based foams incorporated with grape stalks for food packaging. As part of the enormous drive to reduce the use of disposable plastics in packaging, this study looks into the use of naturally-sourced packaging options. They used their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser to perform flexural tests of the foams according to ASTM D 790-03. Foams completely biodegraded after 7 weeks, demonstrating that for the experimental conditions used, the interactions between the starch and grape stalks did not generate recalcitrant compounds or structural alterations that would impair foam degradation. Furthermore, the foams including grape stalks presented good properties in the applicability test, showing a promising application in the storage of foods with low moisture content. Read more

Researchers from the Federal University of Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys have been investigating biodegradable trays based on cassava starch blended with agroindustrial residues. Biodegradable materials are an alternative to traditional synthetic polymer-based packaging materials. When they are discarded into the environment, they are easily degraded into simpler compounds that can be metabolised by bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Among biodegradable materials, materials derived from renewable resources (e.g., starch) have received increasing attention because they combine environmental and functional benefits. This study investigates how the fibrous agroindustrial residue concentration affects the properties of the biodegradable trays and compares these characteristics with the features of expanded polystyrene trays. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tensile tests on tray samples. The study found that fibrous agroindustrial residues can potentially be employed to produce biodegradable trays, especially the combination of sugarcane bagasse and cornhusk. Read more


The Packaging Research Revolution: Biodegradable Polymer Films

The majority of countries worldwide are making an effort to reduce their mark on the planet, and cutting down on plastics is an obvious place to start because of the availability of alternatives, and due to the large amount of waste they leave behind. One of the largest sources of single use plastics is packaging. There is a large amount of academic and industrial research into this area. Stable Micro Systems equipment is a regular feature of publications due to the need for mechanical property analysis; one of the drawbacks of biodegradable polymers is their reduced structural integrity. Consequently, Texture Analysers are necessary to perform tests for both R&D and quality control, once the product has reached production. The following are a selection of recent publications into this interesting and important field, specifically those focussing on polymer films.

Scientists from the University Putra Malaysia have been researching tapioca starch films reinforced with microcrystalline cellulose for potential food packaging applications. This work was directed towards developing biodegradable films from a biopolymer that is sustainable and environmentally friendly, particularly tapioca starch. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tensile tests on film samples. The ideal filler addition was found as a result of this study, resulting in the highest performance of films’ mechanical and barrier properties. Thermal properties were also improved. In conclusion, films produced in this study exhibited improved properties and have the potential to be used for food packaging applications. Read more

Researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande have been investigating the use of different proteins to produce biodegradable films and blends. The synthesis of new biomaterials with optimised performance and properties is a constantly expanding area in food packaging technology. A significant advancement in this area has occurred with the synthesis of blends consisting of natural polymers from different origins. This class of material has aroused great interest among researchers in recent decades because it is a simple and practical alternative, resulting in materials with improved characteristics for application in packaging. The objective of this study was to develop, characterize and evaluate biodegradable films produced from different proteins and their blends. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to carry out tensile tests on film samples to give tensile strength and percentage elongation. One film formulation stood out by presenting good mechanical and thermal resistance along with complete biodegradability in less than 10 days, proving to be the most promising blend for the development of sustainable materials for food packaging. Read more

Scientists from the University of Santiago de Compostela have been researching environmentally friendly films containing bacterial cellulose, chitosan and polyvinyl alcohol, particularly the effect of water activity on barrier, mechanical and optical properties. The interest in developing new materials intended for food packaging based on bacterial cellulose has been growing in recent years. Flexible and transparent films from bacterial cellulose−chitosan−polyvinyl alcohol have shown excellent UV-barrier properties. However, this material interacts with ambient moisture modifying its water activity due to its hydrophilic nature. In this work, a study was carried out to evaluate the changes caused by the water activity. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tensile tests on film samples. Results showed a plasticising effect of water molecules increasing the water vapour permeability of the samples, percentage of elongation and distance to burst. The increase of the water activity decreased the Young’s modulus and tensile strength. The values of the UV-barrier were maintained at the wide range of water activity. Consequently, water molecules do not affect the UV-barrier properties of the films. Read more

Researchers from Tezpur University have been investigating the valorisation of pumpkin seeds and peels into biodegradable packaging films. Pumpkin seeds and peels are waste generated from the pumpkin processing industry and having the potential to utilise for biodegradable film development. Such biodegradable films were developed with defatted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin peels. They used their TA.HDplus Texture Analyser to measure the tensile strength and elongation at break of films. The study showed that co-products of the pumpkin processing industry can successfully be used for developing biodegradable films. Find out more

Plastic packaging of meat products

Texture Analysis in Research: Meat & Meat Substitute Products
Meatballs on plate

Researchers from the Institute of Food Science, Technology and Nutrition, Madrid, have been investigating ethyl cellulose and beeswax oleogels as fat replacers in meat products. The effect of storage over 28 days was evaluated by measuring physiochemical, mechanical and viscoelastic properties of both oleogels before and after storage.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform penetration tests. Ethyl cellulose produced more deformable and cohesive gels with greater time- and temperature- stability than their beeswax counterparts which resulted in rigid and brittle gels. Their oxidative stability, mechanical and rheological properties were very stable during the chilled storage period, suggesting that both organogels could be stored up to 15 days prior to use without significant change in their composition or technological properties. Read more

Meanwhile, as interest for the development of food for ageing populations increases, scientists from Dalian Polytechnic University have been carrying out a feasibility study of hydrocolloid incorporated 3D printed pork as dysphagia food. The application of 3D printing technology in the food field is expected to contribute towards the design and development of innovative food products available for a wide market with diverse consumers’ needs and demands.

For instance, one of the most relevant applications remains on the production of customised 3D printed meals for people with chewing and swallowing difficulties, like dysphagia sufferers, for whom each mealtime may represent a risk of choking and aspiration, due to a problem with swallowing co-ordination or mechanical obstruction. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform forward extrusion tests on pork pastes to estimate the force required for extrusion during the printing process. Gum blend addition along with 3D printing was found to produce a lower density meat microstructure. Read more

At the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, researchers have been investigating the meat quality and cooking characteristics in broilers influenced by winter transportation distance and crate density. Broiler welfare and meat quality are serious concerns for the poultry industry worldwide, and studies such as this are crucial in maintaining high welfare standards, which directly influence meat quality.

After being transported one of three known distances in one of three known crate densities, birds were slaughtered, and breast meat quality parameters including pH, colour, drip loss, shear force, marinade uptake and retention, cooking losses, and yield were determined. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform mechanical measurements on raw and marinated meat, using a Warner Bratzler blade for shear testing. It was found that an increase in transportation distance and low crating density during winter can negatively affect physical quality of meat with significant improvement in marination and cooking characteristics. Read more

Interest in the plant-based meat market is thriving globally with UBS predicting that sales could grow by more than 25% a year to $85 billion by 2030. Plant based meat is disrupting the animal meat industry. Its food products are made to replicate the properties of natural meat and work like meat substitutes. It is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than conventional meat products. Food products like Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Tofu, Quorn, Tempeh, and Seitan are made to simulate the appearance, flavour and texture of animal meat products.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences have been investigating the conversion of peanut protein biomass waste into ‘double green’ meat substitutes using a high moisture extrusion process in a multiscale method to explore a process for forming a meat-like fibrous structure. Converting peanut protein biomass waste into environmentally friendly meat substitutes by a high-moisture extrusion process can help solve both resource and waste problems and be “double green”.

A multiscale method combined with some emerging techniques such as atomic force microscopy-based infrared spectroscopy and X-ray microscopy was used to make the whole extrusion process visible to show the process of forming a meat-like fibrous structure using 2D and 3D perspectives. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure the lengthwise strength, crosswise strength and fibrous degree (the ratio between the two strengths) of samples. The study successfully described the different stages in the formation of a fibrous meat substitute. Read more

To review the typical types of tests used in the meat industry for texture measurement, visit our Meat and Fish Testing page

Alternatively, request our articles that gives an overview of all of these methods for meat and meat substitute testing

See how Meat Industry Leaders use Texture Analysis to get ahead of their competition


Research examples from the field of Cosmetics

Researchers from Avon Products, Inc. have been investigating technical approaches to select high‐performance instant skin smoothing formulations, looking at the correlation of in vitro and in vivo assessment methods.

Contractile films that smooth the surface of skin upon drying are popular among consumers due to their “instant” effect and perceivable smoothing benefits. The objective of this study was to correlate an in vitro measurement of contractile force with in vivo smoothing performance, enabling rapid screening of film‐forming technologies for high impact cosmetic results.

An in vitro method is introduced to measure drying stress of film‐containing formulations. The tested formulas have also been evaluated in a blinded clinical study, measuring their effect on under‐eye and Crow's Feet area smoothing through bioinstrumentation (3D PRIMOS imaging) and blinded expert grading of images.

To measure in vitro drying stresses, a tensile test method was adapted using a TA.XTplus Texture Analyser inside an environmental control box. The in vitro drying stress measurement was found to be repeatable and sensitive enough to detect differences between formulations with typical amounts of film‐forming agents. Significant correlation was found between the in vitro drying stress measurements and under‐eye smoothing measured by 3D imaging.

Expert grading confirmed that film formulas deliver perceivable smoothing in the under‐eye and Crow's Feet regions 15 minutes after application. Read more 

Scientists from the University of Coimbra have been researching cream formulations with the aim of establishing a framework to screen and understand the product variability from factors that affect the quality features of cream formulations. Physiochemical measurements included Texture Profile Analysis using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser along with stability studies.

This study revealed the potential of Quality by Design methodology in understanding product variability, recognising the most critical independent variables for the final product quality. This systematic approach in the pharmaceutical field will yield more robust products and processes, provisioning time and cost effective developments. Read more

Scientists from the University of Paris-Saclay have been researching the role of lipid composition in the sensory and physical properties of lipsticks. The perception of lipstick texture upon application is a key driver of consumer satisfaction. However, formulators may only rely on the absence of knowledge about the relationship between ingredients and product sensory properties. Lipsticks are made of a complex anhydrous mixture that contains about 80% lipids (oils, waxes, and butters). The goal of this work was thus to investigate the combined effect of multiple lipid ingredients on the sensory and physical properties of a cosmetic product such as lipstick.

The researchers first analysed a typical lipstick formula and its related ingredient categories. This allowed them to create a simplified yet realistic lipstick system. Based on this, they formulated 36 lipsticks varying in oil and butter composition according to three mixture designs. All products were evaluated by a panel of sensory experts — with a focus on the slipperiness and melting perception — and analysed using texture measurements on their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser.

The physical and sensory results both showed that oils had the strongest impact on the lipstick properties while the impact of butter was negligible. Moreover, the perceived slipperiness of lipsticks was closely related to the viscosity of the oil mixture present in the formula. Read more

Researchers from the Herminio Ometto Foundation, Brazil, have been investigating the assessment of an anti-ageing structured cosmetic formulation containing goji berry. Based on previous studies, it has been found that goji berry (GB), popularly known as a ‘miracle fruit’, has excellent antioxidant potential and can be used in the treatment of skin disorders associated with ageing.

This study aimed to incorporate GB into a structured cosmetic in order to optimise its penetration. Stability studies of the formulation, determination of the antioxidant activity of the extract and of the formulation, rheological measurements, SAXS, polarised light microscopy and bioadhesion analyses were performed. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform the bioadhesion measurements with porcine ear skin as a substrate. In vitro bioadhesion experiments revealed that these formulations exhibited skin adhesion strength statistically similar to commercial anti-ageing formulation.

These results suggest that this formulation has excellent potential to be used as a topical treatment for ageing. Read more

Researchers from Pondicherry University have been investigating the photoprotective effect of nanomelanin-seaweed concentrate in formulated cosmetic creams, with improved antioxidant and wound healing properties.

This study aimed to formulate a cream by incorporating melanin from marine sponge associated bacteria and seaweed concentrate. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform back extrusion of cream samples. Texture analysis of newly formulated cream showed similar results with that of control cream in terms of firmness, cohesiveness, index of viscosity and consistency.

This study was the first report on photoprotective cream formulation using melanin and seaweed concentrate, which improved antioxidant and wound healing properties. The antimicrobial effect of the formulated natural cream could reduce the emergence of drug resistant bacteria and side effects of synthetic creams. Read more

To review the typical types of tests used in the cosmetics industry for texture measurement visit our Cosmetics & Skincare Testing page. Alternatively, request our articles that gives an overview of all of these methods for cosmetics testing.

See how Cosmetics Industry Leaders use Texture Analysis to get ahead of their competition...

Woman applying face cream

Research in the Confectionery industry
3 point bend test on chocolate bar with acoustic microphone

The food industry is flourishing at a very high rate all across the globe and might serve as a major driver for the confectionery ingredients market. Confectionery ingredients provide stability, texture, and various other properties, and therefore, can be used to prepare a variety of food products. More than 70% of consumers prefer the use of products that contain natural ingredients and therefore chose the products that claim to have no artificial ingredients. The trend for the use of clean-label products is rising due to the increase in health awareness among the consumers, and therefore, the manufacturers of confectionery products are attempting to make use of ingredients to develop innovative products that have low-fat content, low sugar content, etc. The development of such food products might attract health-conscious consumers, and thus, there might be an increase in the confectionery ingredients market.

Scientists from the University of Birmingham have been researching the development of fat-reduced chocolate by using water-in-cocoa butter emulsions. The production of low-fat chocolate represents a challenge in the food industry as fat provides the chocolate main characteristics. In this work, water-in-cocoa butter emulsions were used to partially replace fat. First, the emulsion was optimised in terms of formulation and process parameters to achieve the maximum fat replacement and the required properties in terms of droplet size, free water and thermal behaviour. Afterwards, the emulsion was mixed with cocoa powder, icing sugar and milk powder to make the full chocolate. The effects of the mixing temperature and stirring rate were investigated. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure the hardness of samples in terms of three point bend breaking strength. It was demonstrated that with this approach it is possible to develop a low-calorie chocolate, characterised by 40% less fat, with properties close to the full fat equivalent. Read more

Meanwhile, there are technical issues that other manufacturers are attempting to resolve: biodegradability and 3D printing.

Researchers from Islamic Azad University have been investigating the production of bio-chewing gum based on the biopolymer Saqqez, with emphasis on its biodegradability and textural properties. Commercially, chewing gum is produced based on synthetic gum base, which is non-biodegradable and remains in the environment for a long time. Accordingly, chewing gum residue can be considered as a dangerous environmental pollutant. This research was set up to develop a bio-chewing gum based on “Saqqez (Bene resin)” as the source of biopolymers. The produced bio-chewing gum was evaluated for its biodegradability (over a 20-weeks course), condition in a simulated digestive system, and textural and sensory properties; the properties were also compared with those of synthetic chewing gum. Cutting capability and Texture Profile Analysis were both examined using a Texture Analyser TA.XT2i. The bio-chewing gum developed in this study was found to be viable as a good alternative to synthetic chewing gum due to the natural gum used in its production, as well as its good biodegradability and textural and overall acceptability. Read more

Researchers from the University of Queensland have been investigating texture-modified 3D printed dark chocolate in a sensory evaluation and consumer perception study. 3D printing of chocolate has yet to break through in the confectionery industry, partially due to substandard texture, so research and development in this area is very important. In this study, they used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform hardness tests on samples. The results obtained from the sensory tests and consumer survey provided a useful insight into consumers' perception of 3D food printing and the 3D product’s design. This awareness will be beneficial to promote this technology in the food industry. Find out more


Recent Research into the Texture Analysis of 3D Printed Objects in the Drug Industry

3D printing has taken off as a niche manufacturing method, enabling consumers to design and build their own goods. Although it has not lived up to the magnitude of some predictions of a decade ago, it holds an important place in the manufacturing industry. Objects can be built in any almost any format the consumer desires, and it has moved on from the early limitations of certain polymer groups as the building material. Now it is a potential tool in many industries, including bone and organ replacements, meat manufacture and even customisable bakery. As with any manufacturing innovation, the end product must go through a quality control process to assess its physical properties. A Texture Analyser is a crucial part of this procedure, giving a reliable way to test the mechanical properties of 3D printed objects. The following are a selection of recent publications into this interesting and important field.

Patient compliance in children can be low, particularly when a drug is bitter or intolerable. One particular study reports a simple, low cost and time-effective process for the development of a paediatric-friendly oral dosage form using 3D printed chocolate inks. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform Texture Profile Analysis of samples. The study reported on a facile method for the preparation of a 3D printed chewable chocolate-based dosage form with rapid and high release of both hydrophobic and hydrophilic drugs in simulated salivary fluid. The application of 3D printing technology was found to enable accuracy in dose adjustment, while at the same time introducing the potential of patient's active involvement in customisation of the design, textural and organoleptic properties of the final dosage form. Read more

Researchers from ETH Zürich have been investigating the development and characterisation of the processing steps of an ink for 3D printing for bone tissue engineering. Achieving reproducibility in the 3D printing of biomaterials requires a robust polymer synthesis method to reduce batch-to-batch variation as well as methods to assure a thorough characterization throughout the manufacturing process. Particularly biomaterial inks containing large solid fractions such as ceramic particles, often required for bone tissue engineering applications, are prone to inhomogeneity originating from inadequate mixing or particle aggregation which can lead to inconsistent printing results. In this study, the production of such an ink was optimised to assure homogeneous and reproducible printing results. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform extrusion force measurements. Extrusion force measurements were successfully used to predict the printability of inks. Read more

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have been investigating antioxidant PLA composites containing lignin for 3D printing applications as a potential material for healthcare applications. Interest in 3D printing for biomedical applications is increasing. This project focussed on developing low cost DIY fused filament fabrication printers and their use along with lignin-polylactic acid combinations. The breaking strength of filament samples was assessed using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser in compression mode. This paper describes a simple method to combine the two polymers for 3D printing applications. A potential scenario for this material is as a wound dressing material due to the antioxidant activity of the composite material that can contribute to wound closure. Due to the low price of 3D printing equipment and its versatility, these materials can be used in hospitals to print wound dressings for patients on demand. Read more

Meanwhile other researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have been researching the development of a biodegradable subcutaneous implant for prolonged drug delivery using 3D printing. Implantable drug delivery devices offer many advantages over other routes of drug delivery. Most significantly, the delivery of lower doses of drugs, which potentially reduces side-effects and improves patient compliance. 3D printing is a flexible technique, which has been subject to increasing interest in the past few years, especially in the area of medical devices. The present work focussed on the use of 3D printing as a tool to manufacture implantable drug delivery devices to deliver a range of model compounds (methylene blue, ibuprofen sodium and ibuprofen acid) in two in vitro models. Five implant designs were produced, and the release rate varied, depending on the implant design and the drug properties. Additionally, a rate controlling membrane was produced, which further prolonged the release from the produced implants, signalling the potential use of these devices for chronic conditions. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure the mechanical properties of prepared implants using a three-point bend test. The results described in the present work demonstrate how 3D printing is a promising technology for drug eluting implant manufacture. Considering the simplicity of the technology described here, it can be easily transferred to a clinical setup, where implants could be designed on demand to fulfil patients’ needs after surgery. These implants may be suited for the delivery of drugs for localised treatment. For example, chemotherapy agents, antibiotics or local anaesthetics. Alternatively, they could be tailored by coating them for prolonged drug delivery for the treatment of chronic conditions. This can be done due to the versatility of 3D printing technology. Read more

Scientists from the University of Greenwich have been researching 3D printed microneedles for anticancer therapy of skin tumours. Over the last 20 years, microneedle devices have been used extensively for transdermal administration of various medicines in a non-invasive manner. Recent advances in the application of MN arrays to the skin involve the delivery of anticancer agents for the treatment of skin tumours. In this study, novel 3D printed polymeric microneedle arrays were fabricated for enhanced cisplatin delivery to A-431 epidermoid skin tumours for cancer treatment. They used their TA.HDplus Texture Analyser to measure the ability of MN arrays to penetrate skin. This study demonstrated the suitability of 3D printed microneedles in providing in-vivo transdermal delivery of anticancer drugs. Find out more

Researchers from the University of Nottingham have been investigating multi-material 3D bioprinting of porous constructs for cartilage regeneration. 3D printing can potentially benefit plastic and reconstructive surgeries by fabricating patient-specific tissue replacements with tissue-like functions and mechanical properties. One specific example in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery is nasal reconstruction. This study aims to demonstrate the proof of concept of employing multi-material bio-printing to fabricate tissue replacements for nasal reconstructive surgeries. They used their TA.HDplus Texture Analyser to perform compression testing on samples to characterise their mechanical properties. The study showed the feasibility of manufacturing neocartilage using 3D bioprinted porous constructs which could be applied as a method for fabricating implants for nose reconstruction. Read more

Scientists from the Federal University of Piaui have been researching printed 3D hydrogel structures employing low-cost stereolithography technology. Stereolithography technology associated with the employment of photocrosslinkable, biocompatible, and bioactive hydrogels has been widely used. This method enables 3D microfabrication from images created by computer programs and allows researchers to design various complex models for tissue engineering applications. This study presents a simple and fast home-made stereolithography system developed to print layer-by-layer structures. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform unconfined compression tests on hydrogel samples. The 3D printed complex structures in this study highlighted the potential of this low-cost stereolithography technique as a great tool in tissue engineering studies, as an alternative to bioprint miniaturized models, simulate vital and pathological functions, and even for analysing the actions of drugs in the human body. Download the research paper

Scientists from the Technical University of Denmark have been researching 3D printed reservoir devices for oral drug delivery, from concept to functionality through design improvement for enhanced mucoadhesion. So far, microdevices for oral drug delivery have been fabricated as square or cylindrical reservoir structures with a localised and unidirectional release. The fabrication is usually carried out using sophisticated and costly microfabrication techniques. In this study, 3D printing of microreservoirs on sacrificial substrates is presented. This approach allows the devices to be accurately arranged in predetermined patterns, enabling implementation into batch production schemes in which the fabrication of the devices is linked to processing steps such as automated drug loading and sealing. Moreover, design and 3D printing of alternative geometries of minireservoirs featuring anchor-like surface structures for improved mucoadhesion and intestinal retention is demonstrated. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform mucoadhesion tests. Surface texturing of minireservoirs was found to increase mucoadhesion of the devices up to two-fold compared to a nonstructured control. The structuring also led to a strong bias in mucoadhesion in different orientations, which can facilitate a correct orientation of the devices and so lead to unidirectional release of drugs toward the intestinal mucosa for increased drug uptake. Find out more

Scientists from the University of Science and Technology Beijing have been researching a novel waterborne polyurethane with biodegradability and high flexibility for 3D printing. 3D printing provides a new approach of fabricating implantable products because it permits a flexible manner to extrude complex and customised shapes of tissue scaffolds. Compared with other printable biomaterials, polyurethane elastomers have several merits, including excellent mechanical properties and good biocompatibility. However, some intrinsic behaviour, especially a high melting point and slow rate of degradation, hamper their application in 3D printed tissue engineering. This study aimed to develop a 3D printable amino acid modified biodegradable waterborne polyurethane using a water-based green chemistry process. The flexibility of this material endows better compliance with tissue during implantation and prevents high modulus transplants from scratching surrounding tissues. They used their TA.HDplus Texture Analyser to perform mechanical tests on 3D printed samples. The study concluded that this printable polymer can be used as an alternative biomaterial for tissue engineering with low temperature printing, biodegradability and compatibility. Find out more

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Texture Analysis in Research: Fish

According to Allied Market Research, the global seafood market is projected to reach $155,316 million by 2023, registering a CAGR of 3.6% from 2017 to 2023. Seafood is an excellent source of nutrition and provides numerous health benefits. A rise in awareness about these benefits is helping to drive the growth of the global seafood market, as well as other factors such as increasing disposable income, changing lifestyles and consumer diet preferences.

The majority of fish products sold on the market in the UK are prepared for direct cooking, which means that they are processed “pin-bone free”. Deboning is therefore an important step within the manufacturing process of fish. Scientists from Abertay University have been researching salmon and rainbow trout pin bones using Texture Analysis and micro x-ray computational tomography. This study assessed the length of pin bones from two fish species and two different industrial graded weights. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure the pulling force and break point of bone samples. This research has progressed the issues surrounding pin boning industrially. However, more studies are required in order to understand if these differences affect the overall deboning pin bone process. Read more

The fish market does not only include products destined for the dinner table. Fish proteins have interesting properties that can be exploited in other areas, including packaging applications.

The study of polymers from renewable and biodegradable sources is of great interest to replace petroleum-based plastics due to the concerns about environmental problems and the depletion of fossil resources. Myofibrillar proteins found in fish have a good film forming ability that leads to the formation of polymers for food packaging development. However, as with other bio-sourced macromolecules, they have limited performance compared to synthetic materials. Cold plasma represents a promising strategy to change their properties. Scientists from the Federal University of Rio Grande have been researching the effects of cold plasma were studied on the properties of fish protein films. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure the tensile strength and elongation at break of their samples, according to ASTM D882-02. Plasma application was found to affect the physiochemical properties, microstructure and thermal stability of samples, and time of plasma application was found to affect their mechanical performance. Read more

In a similarly environmentally-friendly application, researchers from Çukurova University have been investigating the physiochemical and functional properties of gelatine obtained from tuna, frog and chicken skins. Growing demand for gelatine has increased interest in using alternative raw materials. In this study, different animal skins were used in gelatine extraction, and quality characteristics and functional properties of the resultant gelatines were comparatively investigated. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure bloom strength of gel samples. Bloom value was significantly higher in frog skin gelatine compared to that of chicken and tuna skin gelatines. Results showed that processing waste like skins of different animals may present opportunities in gelatine production as high quality alternatives. This study may help the industry by providing comparable data over potentially significant sources. Find out more

Texture Analysis in Research: Fish

Fat Replacers
Replacing fat in foods - no palm oil

Manufacturers often have motivation to remove fat from food products, but when something is removed from a recipe, it inevitably has to be replaced with another ingredient. Sometimes that replacement is another type of fat, or it might be another ingredient altogether (to reduce the overall fat content of the food). Food manufacturers have to test the altered food in comparison with its original form to ensure that all textural properties remain the same within acceptable limits.

Palm oil is an example of an ingredient that is frequently being replaced in food this decade. It is the oil extracted from the fleshy interior layer of the fruit of oil palms. According to “Trends in Global Palm Oil Sustainability Research.” in the Journal of Cleaner Production, it is the most produced vegetable oil in the world. In food manufacture, it is used as a flavour and moisture additive, an emulsifier and a lubricant. However, concerns over child labour, deforestation (and the associated decline in animal populations) and climate change have driven many manufacturers to reduce its inclusion in their products, as well as looking to reduce the high saturated fat content it gives to food. This is also an area of interest in scientific research, with efforts focussed on the change in physical properties and taste before and after palm oil’s replacement. Texture Analysis is central to the research and development of products subject to palm oil removal. Some supermarkets and manufacturers have recently had campaigns to entirely remove palm oil from their own brand products to meet with the growing public distaste for the ingredient, whether from an environmental or health perspective.

The replacement of trans fats and saturated fats due to health concerns has long been an area of interest in the food industry, and environmental concerns can be a further push for oils of tropical origin. Scientists from the University of Guelph have been researching methylcellulose structured oils as an alternative to palm oil shortening in sandwich cookie creams, putting their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to use in Texture Profile Analysis of cream samples. It was found that varying the proportion of replacement oils had a large effect on the hardness, stickiness and gumminess of creams. Read more

Meanwhile, in Thailand, researchers from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang have been testing palm oil free cookies. The main objective of this study was to develop coconut oil based cookies fortified with tuna bone bio-calcium as a healthy food, rich in medium chain fatty acids and dietary calcium. After the ingredient swap, the quality and sensory properties of the samples were determined, including colour, diameter, thickness and hardness (which was tested using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser). All tested properties of the cookies varied with levels of bio-calcium powder and coconut oil. It was found that 12% bio-calcium powder could be fortified into cookies using coconut oil as shortening replacer without any adverse effects on sensory properties. Read more

Over in Brazil, the focus is on reducing palm fats in hamburgers. A diet with high fat intake can lead to health problems, but fat is important to the texture of many foods. Scientists from the Federal University of Lavras have been researching hamburgers with chia seed added to act as a fat replacement. In this study, chia seeds were added in different quantities to chicken burgers to replace pork fat, and the resulting product investigated in terms of sensory characteristics. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform shear force measurements on samples. Although sensory taste scores and overall acceptance were reduced on products with higher chia addition, the degree of acceptance of the products was high. Results of this study highlighted the potential use of chia seed in the development of low fat and enriched dietary fibre burgers. Read more


Texture analysis in research: Dentistry
Texture Analysis in Research: Dentistry

According to Statista, the global dental market is projected to grow to around 37 billion dollars by 2021, and current indicators show that the market will keep moving forward, primarily driven by the implant sector. Its success is due to progress in the fields of medical technologies and implant materials.

When ceramic structures are used in the mouth, there is often a risk of wear between teeth and the ceramic part. Scientists from Boston’s University School of Dental Medicine have been researching this effect when different dental ceramic systems are used. Disc shaped specimens were held in resin and they used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser along with a multiple sample vertical friction wear device to perform wear simulation. No differences were found in the linear and volumetric reduction of enamel cusps abraded against enamel disks or ceramic specimens. Read more


Meanwhile, Mars Inc. have been fabricating animal jaws. They have recently released a patent, entitled ‘Animal dentistry apparatus and methods’. Chewable products are often used to improve the oral hygiene of animals as the chewing action can help to remove plaque. It is useful to understand the mechanical properties of these products as they can affect their performance in cleaning teeth; existing mechanical measurement techniques involve their compression with cylindrical probes. This patent addresses the shortcomings of in-vivo measurements with existing test methods for chewable products. They used their TA.HDplus Texture Analyser to perform tests with a mechanical jaw assembly. Read more


Over in Hangzhou, researchers from Zhejiang Gongshang University have been investigating the locking up of food between posterior teeth and its influence on chewing efficiency. Food particles are intra-orally locked up between antagonistic posterior teeth during each chewing cycle, and this can affect the selection of particles for subsequent breakage, hence also affecting chewing efficiency. The two aims of this study were to determine the extent of locking up and to examine the relationship between locking up and chewing efficiency. The researchers used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform penetration tests on sheet bolus samples. Relationships between locking up and chewing efficiency were successfully found. Read more


Scientists from Zhejiang University of Technology have been researching the fabrication and evaluation of dental fillers using customised moulds via 3D printing technology. In view of the high incidence and long-term treatment of dental caries, personalized dental fillers with long therapeutic action have broad application prospects in the dental clinic. The objective of this study was to fabricate and evaluate novel dental fillers using state-of-the-art 3D printing technology. To mimic the support from peripheral tooth tissue, the compression behavior of the optimal dental filler was determined with customized compression molds designed according to the printed mold, using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. The study confirmed that 3D printing was successful in designing and fabricating personalised dental fillers with high mechanical strength and “on-demand” drug release characteristics. Read more

To read more about dentistry applications using a Texture Analyser click here.


Texture Analysis in Research: Meat

Collagen is the major fibrillar component and protein in both human and animal connective tissue. It is applied in medical preparations such as wound dressings and tissue engineering.

Meat and poultry production industries result in large amounts of organic waste, rich in collagen. Scientists from the University of Oslo have been investigating collagen from turkey tendons as a promising sustainable biomaterial for pharmaceutical use. The aim of this study was to isolate and characterise pepsin soluble collagen from turkey tendons.

Mechanical properties of samples were studied using their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser in compression mode. This study illustrated a potential sustainable use of leftover raw materials from poultry. Read more


The popular hamburger continues to thrive in many new and reformulated guises. It is well know that whilst fat is important to the texture, usually a diet with a high fat intake from the consumption of such products can lead to health problems.

With this in mind, scientists from the Federal University of Lavras have been researching the technological and sensory characteristics of hamburgers with chia seed added to act as a fat replacement. In this study, chia seeds were added in different quantities to chicken burgers to replace pork fat, and the resulting product investigated in terms of sensory characteristics, among others.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform shear force measurements on samples. Lower sensory taste scores and overall acceptance were conferred on products with higher chia addition, although the degree of acceptance of the products was high. Results of this study highlighted the potential use of chia seed in the elaboration of low fat and enriched dietary fibre burgers. Read more


Meanwhile, scientists from Tallinn University of Technology have been researching the influence of different packaging materials and atmospheric conditions on the properties of pork rinds. Pork rinds are a popular and nutritious snack food in many countries.

This study investigated the rancidity and texture of samples during a 120-day shelf life period under different atmospheres and packaging conditions. They used their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser to investigate the hardness and crispness of samples with a 3mm penetration probe. The study was successful in determining the optimum packaging and atmosphere for preserving pork rind samples. Read more


To review the typical types of tests used in the meat industry for texture measurement visit our Meat and Fish Testing page.

Alternatively request our article that gives an overview of all of these methods for meat testing.

Texture Analysis in Research: Meat

Testing Skin

The study of the mechanical properties of soft tissues is valuable to evaluate the progress of diseases such as tumours and treatment effects, to simulate medical surgeries, to understand the aging process and to evaluate the efficacy of cosmetic products. Yet again, the Texture Analyser has proven to be an invaluable tool in the measurement of such samples.

Recently researchers from the National University of Colombia have investigated the influence of indentation test factors on the mechanical response of skin. This study proposes in vivo tests and design of experiments to determine the influence of experimental factors on the mechanical response of soft tissue. They used their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser to perform indentation measurements on forearm skin. Read more

The same researchers have also published an article regarding the incidence of temperature and indenter diameter on the mechanical response of skin during indentation tests. Read more


Real- time surgical simulation is of growing scientific interest. Researchers from the University of East Anglia have been investigating a hyperelastic finite element model of human skin. Their work presents a ‘full cycle’ study on the interactive simulation of plastic surgery interventions. The study was initiated by performing in-vitro experiments on human skin, the data of which were fit to various computer models. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to perform tensile tests on skin samples. The study was successful in modelling deformation of human skin. Read more


Meanwhile in the field of drug delivery through skin, researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have been investigating optical coherence tomography as a valuable tool in the study of the effects of microneedle geometry on skin penetration characteristics and in-skin dissolution. Microneedle arrays are used to pass drugs through the skin in a minimally invasive way. This study looked into the effect that needle geometry and force of application have on penetration characteristics of soluble polymer arrays into porcine skin. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to apply load to a spring-loaded piston for application of the microneedle arrays. The successful use of optical coherence tomography in this study could prove to be a key development for polymeric microneedle research, accelerating their commercial exploitation. Read more


In the same field, researchers from Loughborough University have been investigating the influence of array interspacing on the force required for successful microneedle skin penetration, using theoretical and practical approaches. The insertion behaviour of microneedle arrays depends on the mechanical properties of the skin and the microneedle geometry and distribution. In addressing this issue, this paper studies the mechanism of microneedle array insertion into the skin and provides a simple quantitative basis to relate the insertion force with distance between two microneedles. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure the force of insertion of arrays at two different speeds. Results from theoretical analysis and finite element modelling agreed well with experimental results. This showed that microneedle interspacing only began to affect insertion force at low interspacing. This model provides a framework for optimising microneedle devices, and should aid the development of suitable application methods and determination of force for reliable insertion into skin. Read more


To characterise the tactile properties of residual film of topical products applied to skin, scientists from Normandy University have been researching instrumental and sensory methodologies. Cosmetic and pharmaceutical topical products were selected based on their various texture, galenic form and composition. Key texture attributes such as firmness, stickiness, spreadability and the amount of residue were objectively evaluated using sensory analysis. Additionally, texture analysis (compression tests using a TA.XTplus Texture Analyser), rheology and tribology were carried out. The investigation was successful in showing how the tactile properties of topical gels and emulsions are studied using complementary tests in order to understand and improve the skinfeel of topical preparations. Read more


Those readers engaged in research in these activities may be interested in an article entitled ‘Using texture analysis to quantify the efficacy of skin care products’ by Stable Micro Systems. Addressing such issues as skin tightening and the use of the texture analyser for indentometric testing, this feature is available free of charge on request.

To request your PDF copy, visit our Resource Request page


Professional checking a patients skin

Insects as Food
Cricket powder

With 9.6 billion people forecast to inhabit the planet in 2050, scientists have warned that population growth could lead to an unsustainable increase in food production if consumption patterns persist. Considering the rising world population and the scarce water and land resources, it is extremely important to find new and sustainable ways to produce food. Edible insects are particularly interesting due to their high protein content and lower environmental impacts compared to traditional livestock. They have been promoted as a source of nutrients able to contribute to the increasing need of animal protein in an environmentally sustainable fashion. In general, insects contain a considerable amount of protein with a well-balanced amino acid spectrum, a high amount of lipid, and a noteworthy content of micronutrients such as copper, zinc, and iron.

Researchers from Wageningen University & Research have been performing an investigation toward the design of an insect-based meat analogue, specifically the role of calcium and temperature in the coagulation behaviour of Alphitobius diaperinus proteins. This study focused on the coagulation behaviour of protein from larvae of Alphitobius diaperinus. The effect of incremental CaCl2 concentration and temperature on physical-chemical properties of insect coagula was investigated. The textural properties of the coagulum were measured in compression using a TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. The results of this study provide important information for the product development of insect protein-based meat analogues. Read more


In the bakery industry, muffins are one of the most popular high-calorie snack products consumed worldwide. As a response to growing consumer interest in healthy nutrition, the food industry is increasingly focused on designing foods with reduced sugar content. Insects can be used as a matrix for the introduction of various nutrients, such as protein and antioxidants. The use of protein enrichment, on the one hand, reduces the sugar content of the product, but, on the other hand, it may also have a significant impact on its textural properties.

Cricket powder may be used as a protein-rich additive. Researchers from Poznań University of Life Sciences have been investigating the effects of the replacement of wheat flour with cricket powder on the characteristics of muffins. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform texture profile analysis on the muffin samples. Slight changes to colour and textural properties were found after the addition of cricket powder. However, it was found to be suitable for use in the enrichment of muffins with protein without reducing the sensory attractiveness of the product obtained. Find out more


Meanwhile, researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul have been investigating cricket powder (Gryllus assimilis) as a new alternative protein source for gluten-free breads. This study evaluated the use of cricket powder as protein source for the production of gluten-free bread in comparison with two other protein sources: buckwheat and lentil flours. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform Texture Profile Analysis on bread slices. Results confirmed that the enrichment with cricket powder can lead to the production of gluten-free bread with acceptable technological properties and high protein content. Find out more


Texture Analysis in Research: Ageing Population
Texture Analysis in Research: Ageing Population

Scientists from the National Agriculture and Food Research Organisation, Japan, have been researching compression tests of soft food gels using a soft machine with an artificial tongue. Easy to eat food is increasingly required in the advanced-aged society in Japan. Mechanical properties of such foods must be modified such that the foods are easily broken by the tongue without chewing. When foods are compressed between the tongue and the hard palate, the tongue deforms considerably, and only soft foods are broken. To simulate tongue compression of soft foods, artificial tongues with stiffness similar to that of the human tongue were created using clear soft materials. The scientists in this study used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform compression tests on cylindrical samples. The fracture properties measured using the soft machine were better than those obtained from a conventional test between hard plates to mimic natural oral processing in humans. The fracture force on foods measured using this soft machine may prove useful for the evaluation of food texture that can be mashed using the tongue. Read more


Scientists from the Department of Food Science, University of Tennessee, have been investigating the characterisation of oral tactile sensitivity and masticatory performance across adulthood. In a society that is rapidly aging, it is important to understand the subtle changes in physiology and eating behaviour that are associated with aging. This study used a variety of tests of oral sensitivity to better understand which aspects of oral physiology are integral for effective chewing.

Two main measures of oral sensitivity were performed: to assess bite force, subjects were asked to discriminate between foam samples of varying hardness. Second, to assess lingual sensitivity the subjects were asked to identify 3D printed shapes using their tongue, as well as identify confectionery letters. Additionally, masticatory performance was measured through assessing each participant’s ability to mix two‐coloured chewing gum. The researchers used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to verify sample hardness levels.

Sensitivity and masticatory performance in the younger age groups was superior to that of older adults but results suggested that age‐related declines in bite force sensitivity were not a significant cause of altered masticatory performance. This study represents a valuable first step in showing that bite force sensitivity does not depend on age, and the minimal influence of factors such as oral sensitivity on masticatory performance. Read more


By 2025, the world will have almost 800 million people over the age of 65.

The UN estimates that the global population age 60+ will soar from 11% in 2000 to 22% by 2050.

While age is just a number, the numbers are certainly on the rise. Yet another challenge is that sensory perceptions necessary for the palatability of food – sight, touch, smell, and taste – diminish as humans age.

Taste is the most important factor for all consumers, but texture of food products may be a greater concern for older consumers than younger ones because of difficulty in chewing and swallowing.

How can texture analysis help? Request our article on Designing foods with specific health claims for an ageing population


Designing the best potato chip

Researchers have developed a method to analyse the physical characteristics of a potato chip at four stages of eating — from the first bite to the final swallow — to help formulate a tastier low-fat snack. The results of the research have been reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

While munching on low-fat potato chips might reduce the guilt compared with full-fat versions, many people don’t find the texture as appealing. Cutting fat in potato chips usually involves reducing the vegetable oil content but it’s the oil that helps give the product its characteristic crunch, taste and mouthfeel.

Texture perception is conceptualised as an emergent cognitive response to food characteristics that comprise several physical and chemical properties. When food scientists formulate a new low-fat chip, they often rely on trained sensory panellists to tell them how well the new snack simulates the full-fat version. This process can be expensive, time-consuming and often subjective, since perceptions can vary based on factors like a person’s saliva flow rate and composition

Read more about what mechanical testing was performed in this research and how the new technique to link physical measurements with sensory perceptions could be used.


Meanwhile, scientists from the Korea Food Research Institute have been researching the prediction of sensory crispness of potato chips using a reference-calibration method. Reference calibration is a useful technique when sensory evaluation is not feasible or practical. This study was conducted to predict the crispness perception of potato chips evaluated by instrumental means through the reference-calibrated method. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform compression and three-point bend tests. The relationship between the instrumental graph area and the sensory crispness of the standard references was found to be nonlinear over the standard crispness scale but the Fechner model was suitable for predicting the sensory crispness of chips. This study suggests that standard references with a reference-calibration method can be used to calibrate the crispness of potato chips.

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Designing the best potato chip

Texture Analysis in Research: Medical Applications
Texture Analysis in Research: Medical Applications

Scientists from the Thomas More University of Applied Sciences have been researching the use of a Texture Analyser to objectively quantify foot orthoses.

Foot orthoses alter the kinematics and kinetics of gait. With increasing importance of evidence-based practice and with the permanent development of subtractive manufacturing and introduction of additive manufacturing, there is a growing need for the quantification of orthoses parameters. This paper describes a measurement method and protocol to quantify different parameters of a foot orthosis. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform indentation tests on orthoses. Results showed the added value of the proposed technique as the parameters were not only defined by the material, but also by the shape.

Download the research paper


Meanwhile, scientists from Arizona State University have been researching light-activated tissue-integrating sutures (LATIS) as surgical nanodevices.

Sutures are typically the primary means of soft tissue repair in surgery and trauma. Despite their widespread use, sutures do not result in immediate sealing of approximated tissues, which can result in bacterial infection and leakage. Non-absorbable sutures and staples can be traumatic to tissue, and the trauma can be exacerbated by their subsequent removal. Use of cyanoacrylate glues is limited because of their brittleness and toxicity.

In this work, laser‐activated tissue‐integrating sutures are described as novel nanodevices for soft tissue approximation and repair. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tensile tests on fibre samples. The results of this study indicated that LATIS‐facilitated approximation of skin in live mice synergises the benefits of conventional suturing and laser‐activated tissue integration, resulting in new approaches for faster sealing, tissue repair, and healing.

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Scientists from the University of Michigan have been investigating the mechanics of scaling-up multichannel scaffold technology for clinical nerve repair.

Peripheral nerve injury remains a large clinical problem, with challenges to the successful translation of nerve repair devices. One promising technology is the multichannel scaffold, a conduit incorporating arrays of linear microchannels, which has high open lumen volume to guide regenerating nerves towards distal targets.

To maximise open lumen volume, and scale-up scaffolds for translation, this study explored how mechanical properties were affected by material choice, microstructure and channel architecture. They used their Texture Analyser TA.XTplus to perform tests in compression and tension. The study demonstrated significant progress towards translation and will bring multichannel technology closer to the clinic.

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3D printed food

Personalisation has been pointed as the driving force to disrupt traditional ways to produce and deliver food.

Three-dimensional food printing (3DFP) is constantly associated as a potential alternative to achieve personalisation and enchant a variety of customers.

By means of extrusion-based 3DFP, for example, three main features can be acquired that cannot be done using conventional casting methods of paste-like materials: (1) the design of internal structures (infill percentages and internal variations of the nutritional content); (2) encapsulation of probiotics, vitamins and nutrients; and (3) freshly mixing of ingredients to ensure the ideal texture within a complex 3D construct (in dual or multiple nozzle systems). An Introduction to the Principles of 3D Food Printing is a book that has just been published which uses a Texture Analyser to measure the properties of such solid food constructs. This chapter focusses on reporting the different types of 3D printing techniques and assessment of printing quality. Insights were given on the choice of the 3DP technique, based on the material properties, applicability and postprocessing requirements.

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Researchers from the University of Queensland have been investigating the textural modification of 3D printed dark chocolate by varying internal infill structure. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform textural characterisation of the samples with a knife blade. A higher force was required to break samples with a higher infill percentage. This technique was found to be a powerful tool in controlling the mechanical properties of 3D printed food in general.

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Meanwhilte, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences have been investigating the application of soy protein isolate and hydrocolloid based mixtures as promising food materials in 3D food printing. Rheological properties, printability and 3D printed geometries of soy protein isolate mixtures with sodium alginate and gelatin were investigated. The SPI and their mixtures showed shear thinning behaviour and can be used as an ideal material for 3D printing. The mechanical properties of printed protein mixture cylinders were investigated using their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser. The addition of sodium alginate and gelatin to SPI were found to cause no chemical cross-linking between protein subunits during mixing and 3D printing at 35°C, while improving the hardness and chewiness of 3D printed geometries. The overall results suggested that the food matrix of SPI, sodium alginate and gelatin will be a promising material in 3D food printing.

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Food materials for FDM printing should have adequate rheological properties that can be easily extruded and maintain their shape. However, there are very few foods that meet this condition and it is still a challenge to process many food materials to be applicable to this method. Vegetables are a typical non-printable traditional food material due to their excessive moisture and low carbohydrate content, and lack of proteins that give proper rheological properties. Scientists from the College of Life Science and Biotechnology, Korea University, have been researching the effect of particle size on the 3D printing performance of the food-ink system with cellular food materials. Recently, there has been increased interest in the 3D printing of food due to the availability of design freedom of texture, shape, composition, taste and flavour. Fused deposition modelling (an extrusion-based technology) is the most commonly-used technique for food fabrication. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform Texture Profile Analysis and standard compression tests. The results obtained in this study suggest that increasing the particle size of the incorporated food powder can achieve efficient mechanical strength increase. This may be useful in determining parameters which are required to prepare the food-ink system such as the milling time and the maximum incorporation content of the food powder.

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For application in the meat industry, scientists from the University of Queensland have been researching the post-processing feasibility of composite-layer 3D printed beef. Post-processing feasibility studies the integrity of the designed internal and external structures of 3D printed products. This study examined the effect of infill density and fat content on the post-processing physical changes and texture of lean meat-lard composite layer 3D printed meat products cooked sous-vide. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform puncture tests and Texture Profile Analysis. Overall, increasing the fat content (or lard layers) resulted in higher cooking loss, shrinkage, and cohesiveness, and lower fat retention, moisture retention, hardness, and chewiness. On the other hand, an increase in infill density led to higher moisture retention with lower shrinkage and cohesiveness, resulting in higher hardness and chewiness.

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3D printed food

Why measure just one parameter when you can measure several?
Why measure just one parameter when you can measure several?

Apricots have a short storage life principally caused by a rapid softening, which increases the sensitivity of the fruit to mechanical damage, and to the development of fungal diseases.

The current methods to assess fruit firmness give limited information on the evolution and the mechanisms of softening. Scientists from the Agroscope Research Centre have been researching a multi-parameter approach for apricot texture analysis. With the aim of developing novel strategies to better monitor fruit softening, a multi-parameter approach measuring textural properties was evaluated and compared to a reference method whose results are obtained from a unique parameter.

Quantitative measurement of texture is essential to ensure an optimal commercial quality of apricots on the market and to characterise the mechanisms involved in the evolution of this parameter before and after harvest. Thanks to a better understanding of the textural properties of apricots and their changes as the fruit ripens, quality for the consumers could be improved and losses reduced along the entire supply chain.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to determine whole fruit firmness using a compression test. Measurements performed with the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser allowed a multi-tests approach that described more precisely the influence of cultivar and storage conditions on different textural properties of the fruit. This instrument gives whole curves from which parameters can be computed. This has the advantage that the evaluation of the influence of the different factors can be done based on the whole curves or only on the extracted parameters. Unlike measurements performed on an AGROSTA®100 device on a small surface of each fruit, compression tests are done on the whole fruit. This test gives information on the viscoelastic properties of the apricot, which is particularly useful for predicting its ability to resist to pressure forces occurring during the post-harvest handling of the fruit (during transport for example). Also, the results obtained by puncture tests allowed more precise evaluation of the influence of the storage conditions on the textural properties of the skin and the flesh. Moreover, texturometry allowed more detailed analysis of the properties of the skin which were not correlated with the firmness obtained with the manual device.

The results showed that this multi-parametric approach allows detailed evaluation of the apricots’ textural properties – after all why settle for an instrument that measures one parameters when you can benefit from a single universal instrument that has a multitude of texture measurement solutions?

Read more about this research


Read our article ‘A world of food development possibilities with fruit’which presents a wide range of different texture measurements using the Texture Analyser on fruit ranging from dried, pureed, whole or processed. Request this article


3D printing applications

At the University of Milan scientists have been researching 3D printed multi-compartment capsular devices for two-pulse oral drug delivery.

The resistance to deformation of printed and moulded capsular devices was measured under compression using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser.

This study helped to develop delivery methods for enhanced customisation of drug combinations.

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Orodispersible films (ODFs) are promising dosage forms for children or elderly people. By printing active pharmaceutical ingredients onto orodispersible films, the flexibility of drug dosing is increased and provides potential for personalised medicines. Scientists from Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf have been researching printing methods for pharmaceuticals by inkjet technology. This study deals with the technology transfer from a small-scale inkjet printing system to a pilotscale process. They used their Texture Analyser TA.XTplusto measure the elongation to break and puncture stress of the samples, both of which were affected by the number of layers and the amount of ink used. The results showed that multiple printing has a huge impact on the mechanical properties of the film, leading to the conclusion that the ink formulation and the number of printed layers should be carefully selected. The continuous ODF production with direct printing enabled various printing concepts, which may serve for individualised dosing in personalised medicine treatment in the near future.

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Meanwhile scientists from Åbo Akademi University have been researching additive manufacturing of personalised orodispersible warfarin films. Warfarin is a narrow therapeutic index drug that requires personalised dosing which is currently not achieved by marketed products. Further, paediatric and geriatric patients may face swallowing problems with solid oral dosage forms. To face these issues, the aim of the present study was to investigate semisolid extrusion 3D printing for production of warfarin containing orodispersible films. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to determine the burst strength and flexibility of the films. Extrusion 3D printing was successfully utilised to produce transparent, smooth and thin, yet flexible and strong orodispersible films containing therapeutic doses of warfarin. Excellent linearity between the designed sizes of the films and the drug contents was achieved indicating semisolid extrusion 3D printing as a promising way to produce orodispersible warfarin films with personalised doses.

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In Switzerland, researchers from ETH Zurich have been investigating 3D printing of a wearable personalised oral delivery device. Despite the burgeoning interest in three-dimensional (3D) printing for the manufacture of customisable oral dosage formulations, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved tablet notwithstanding, the full potential of 3D printing in pharmaceutical sciences has not been realised. In particular, 3D-printed drug-eluting devices offer the possibility for personalisation in terms of shape, size, and architecture, but their clinical applications have remained relatively unexplored. These researchers used 3D printing to manufacture a tailored oral drug delivery device with customisable design and tunable release rates in the form of a mouthguard and, subsequently, evaluated the performance of this system in the native setting in a first-in-human study. They used their TA.XTplus to determine the tensile strength of the filaments. The elastic modulus was calculated from the slope of the stress-versus-strain curve in the linear region. This proof-of-concept work demonstrates the immense potential of 3D printing as a platform for the development and translation of next-generation drug delivery devices for personalised therapy.

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3D printing

Packaging
Alternative packaging

Due to consumers now hating plastic, waste companies are being forced to find alternative solutions.

The holy grail of packaging development is now to present a recyclable, compostable, biodegradable and environmentally friendly solution which does not compromise on packaging integrity and desired performance.

Researchers from the National University of Trujillo have been investigating biodegradable foam trays based on starches isolated from different Peruvian species. In this study, sweet potato, oca, and arracacha starches were used to produce foam trays by a thermopressing process as a sustainable alternative to expanded polystyrene. They used their TA.HDplus Texture Analyser to determine the tensile strength and elongation of the trays according to ASTM D828-97. Arracha starch was found to produce trays with low density, good mechanical resistance and thermal stability, whereas sweet potato and oca starch produced foam trays with the highest mechanical resistance.

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Food consumption trends and packaging technologies are developing quickly, with environmental concerns driving product advancements and shift in consumer demand trends. Researchers from the National University of La Plata have been investigating edible flavoured oven bags for cooking meat based on proteins. There are several brands in the market that sell oven bags for cooking based on different synthetic polymers. Those intended for cooking meat would have the advantage of maintaining the authentic flavour of the food, since they would retain their natural aromas, minerals and vitamins. They also avoid the use of cooking oil and keep the oven clean once the bag is removed together with the food. This work deals with the activation of protein films with a flavouring and their evaluation as oven bags for cooking meat. They used their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser to measure heat seal strength according to ASTM F88-00. The same instrument was used to measure the texture of cooked chicken meat. Bags made with soybean protein isolates successfully resisted cooking, but those made with bovine gelatin disintegrated during cooking. Furthermore, soybean protein bags transferred the flavour to chicken meat during cooking, without affecting their texture and water content.

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Cosmetics applications

Here are several examples of the use of Texture Analysis in cosmetic product development...

Researchers from Chanel Beauty Perfumes, Beauty and Innovation Research, have been investigating the relations between the sensory properties and fat ingredients of lipsticks.

Lipstick is a flagship make-up product with over 900 million units sold per year worldwide, including 300 million in Europe. It is the best-selling cosmetic product.

Although a consumer will buy a lipstick according to the colour and the make-up effect, she will only buy the same one again if she is attracted by the sensory nature of the product. Sensory properties such as slipperiness, smoothness, thickness of the coating, and a moisturising sensation are strategic criteria in repeating the purchase.

The lipstick bending force was measured using a TA.XTplus Texture Analyser coupled with a Lipstick Cantilever Rig. The results of this study confirm the major role of the viscosity of oils and the wax used in the formula on the sensory and mechanical properties of the lipstick. It is therefore possible to modify the sensory properties, for example to adjust the shininess of a lipstick, without altering its mechanical resistance. This opens up opportunities for developing innovative sensory textures in short lead times.

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Meawhile, scientists from Normandy University have been researching the prediction of residual film perception of cosmetic products using an instrumental method and non-biological surfaces, with the example of stickiness after skin application..

The cosmetics market is very competitive, with a huge number of attractive products. To be distinguished from competitors, a cosmetic product has to be efficient but also pleasant to use, through its colour, fragrance and texture. The aim of this work is to investigate how residual sensory properties of cosmetic products can be predicted without using a panel of assessors, focusing on the residual film attribute “stickiness”.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to evaluate the adhesive property of residual film samples. Results strongly suggested that the physical stimulus responsible for cosmetic film stickiness can be instrumentally measured on both in vivo skin and artificial skin.

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Texture Analysis in research: Cosmetics applications

Substitution and supplementation in bakery products
Substitution and supplementation in bakery products

In the bakery industry, formulations continue to be tested that replace an ingredient (such as gluten) or supplement (e.g. soybean or soy protein) to enhance a product.

The following are recent publications highlighting the use of a texture analyser to measure the effects of such formulation change.

Scientists from Nanjing University of Finance and Economics have been researching the effects of whey and soy protein addition on the rheological properties of wheat dough.

Since it is known that the gluten network is responsible for viscoelastic properties in wheat dough and for dough structure strength and gas retention, most studies reported that enrichment of foreign proteins interfered with gluten development and so had negative effects on bread quality. This study compared the effects of whey and soy proteins on the thermomechanical, dynamic rheological and microstructural properties of wheat dough and bread-making quality in a relatively wide range of protein addition (0–30%).

They used their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser to perform texture profile analysis on breadcrumbs. The results suggested that selection of the protein source and amount with appropriate functionalities significantly affected the structure of the dough and quality of the bread.

This study is essential for product development and process control when considering the popularity of protein fortified bakery products.

To read more, click or tap here...


Researchers from Monterrey Institute of Technology have been investigating rheology, acceptability and texture of wheat flour tortillas supplemented with soybean residue.

Dry soybean residue is a by-product rich in dietary fibre and protein with high levels of essential amino acids. This study investigated the effects of the substitution of refined wheat flour with dry soybean residue in dough rheology and hot-press tortilla texture, dimensions, colour, protein and dietary fibre contents.

They used their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser to perform texture profile analysis on optimally developed doughs. Results indicated that wheat flour tortillas with 10% soybean residue were an excellent alternative to regular counterparts owing to their higher dietary fibre and protein quantity and quality.

To read more, click or tap here...


Scientists from the University of Bologna have been researching the influence of the addition of soy product and wheat fibre on rheological, textural, and other quality characteristics of pizza.

In this work, the effects of using new ingredients (e.g., soy paste, wheat fibre) on the rheological, textural, physicochemical, nutritional, and organoleptic characteristics of an enriched pizza type were investigated both at laboratory and industrial levels using their TA.HDi Texture Analyser to perform physical testing on dough samples. The new pizza provides a product that combines solid technological performances, in terms of rheological properties and dough elasticity, with improved and balanced nutritional quality, thanks also to the ingredients used in the topping.

Results demonstrate the possibility of obtaining new pizza products characterised by nutritional and sensorial properties tailored for different groups of consumers.

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A patent has also recently been released by Campbell Soup Company, entitled ‘Gluten Free Compositions and Methods for Producing Shelf-Stable Breads and Other Bakery Products’.

New bread flour substitute compositions were outlined including starch and hydrocolloid blends. The freshness (staling) of bread is generally monitored by measuring the changes in firmness of loaf over its shelf life, and their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser was used to perform these measurements according to the AACC method. Amylose reduced gluten free breads were found to have consistently lower firmness values than the control gluten free bread.

To read more, click or tap here...


Testing coronary stents

Scientists from Nantes University Hospital have been researching standardised bench test evaluation of coronary stents and their biomechanical characteristics.

The purpose of the study was to develop a standardised and global bench test protocol to evaluate the biomechanical characteristics of the most currently used drug‐eluting coronary stents. The use of coronary stents has contributed to the reduction of cardiovascular mortality but can be associated with specific complications. Improving the biomechanical matching between the stents and the coronary anatomy may reduce these complications.

Flexibility (crimped and deployed stents) and longitudinal and radial resistances were evaluated using a TA.HDplus Texture Analyser. Biomechanical characteristics were significantly different for all tested devices. This should be taken into consideration to select the most appropriate device for each clinical situation.

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Stent comperession test

Comparing cartilage constructs
Cartilage scaffold

Scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich have been performing a comparative study of cartilage engineered constructs in immunocompromised, humanised and immunocompetent mice.

Choosing the best ectopic in vivo model for cartilage engineering studies remains challenging and there is no clear consensus on how different models compare to one another. The use of xenogenic cells can often limit the choice to immunocompromised animals only and so prevents the understanding of how tissue-engineered grafts perform with potential active inflammatory and immunological responses.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the chondrogenic potential of a recently developed hydrogel in four mouse strains with varying immune systems. Scaffolds were tested under unconfined compression using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. The results of this study showed that it is possible to engineer a cartilage-like graft subcutaneously not only in immunocompromised, but also in immunocompetent and humanised mouse models.

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Testing films for wound healing applications

Researchers from the Federal University of Pelotas have been investigating a polysaccharide-based film loaded with vitamin C and propolis as a promising device to accelerate diabetic wound healing.

Wound healing can be a painful and time-consuming process in patients with diabetes mellitus. In light of this, the use of wound healing devices could help to accelerate this process. In this research, cellulose-based films loaded with vitamin C and/or propolis, two natural compounds with attractive properties, were engineered.

Mechanical properties were investigated by tensile testing using a TA.XT2 Texture Analyser. The results of this study showed that these novel eco-friendly films may represent a new therapeutic approach to accelerate diabetic wound healing.

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Film tensile test

Edible packaging examined
Testing multiple film samples

At the grocery store, most foods — meats, breads, cheeses, snacks — come wrapped in plastic packaging.

Not only does this create a lot of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable waste, but thin plastic films are not great at preventing spoilage – and some plastics are suspected of leaching potentially harmful compounds into food. Current food packaging is mainly petroleum-based, which is not sustainable. It also does not degrade, creating tons of plastic waste that sits in landfills for years – an issue that is now weighing heavily on the minds of all consumer after recent documentaries.

To address these issues, scientists are now developing a packaging film made of milk proteins — and it is even edible. To create an all-round better packaging solution, Dr Peggy Tomasula and colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are developing an environmentally friendly film made of the milk protein casein. These casein-based films are up to 500 times better than plastics at keeping oxygen away from food and, because they are derived from milk, are biodegradable, sustainable and edible.

Some commercially available edible packaging varieties are already on the market, but these are made of starch, which is more porous and allows oxygen to seep through its micro-holes. The milk-based packaging, however, has smaller pores and can thus create a tighter network that keeps oxygen out. After a few additional improvements within their research, this casein-based packaging looks similar to store-bought plastic wrap, but it is less stretchy and is better at blocking oxygen.

The material is edible and made almost entirely of proteins. Nutritious additives such as vitamins, probiotics and nutraceuticals could be included in the future. It does not have much taste, the researchers say, but flavorings could be added. In addition to being used as plastic pouches and wraps, this casein coating could be sprayed onto food, such as cereal flakes or bars.

Right now, cereals keep their crunch in milk due to a sugar coating. Instead of all that sugar, manufacturers could spray on casein-protein coatings to prevent soggy cereal. The spray also could line pizza or other food boxes to keep the grease from staining the packaging, or to serve as a lamination step for paper or cardboard food boxes or plastic pouches.

A fascinating video can now be watched that shows how this packaging is created and works...


Testing mechanical strength of membranes

Scientists from Mercer University (Macon, GA, USA) have been researching the effect of ablative lasers on in vitro transungal delivery.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure the mechanical strength of membranes after ablation using a needle penetration technique. The laser was found to disrupt the nail sufficiently to allow for permeation of methotrexate, which is otherwise challenging due to its high molecular weight and low permeability.

Methotrexate is helpful in the treatment of nail psoriasis, so this study is key in showing that transungual methotrexate delivery is enhanced by fractional laser ablation.

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Film tensile test

Measuring the injectability of hydrogel samples
Syringe expulsion force test

Scientists from Queen’s University Belfast have been researching the influence of an alginate backbone on the efficacy of thermo-responsive alginate-g-P(NIPAAm) hydrogel as a vehicle for sustained and controlled gene delivery.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure the injectability of hydrogel samples. The study developed an injectable and thermo-responsive hydrogel formulation for localised gene delivery.

This helped to find an optimal Alg-g-P(NIPAAm) hydrogel with respect to localised delivery of DNA nanoparticles as a potential medical device for those with castrate resistant prostate cancer.

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Lipstick sensory properties

Researchers from Lubrizol Advanced Materials have been investigating the prediction of lipstick sensory properties with lab tests.

Sensory perceptions and performance are important to the success of a lipstick formulation, but in‐vivo evaluation can be expensive and time‐consuming. The goal of this work was to develop and use lab test methods to predict the sensory and performance properties of lipstick.

The researchers used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform a tack test on the samples. The emollient was found to have a significant effect on the sensory and performance properties of a lipstick, which can be predicted with the developed laboratory tests.

The methods presented may help to speed up the development and optimisation of future lipstick formulations.

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Applying lipstick

Measuring the stickiness of adhesive tapes
Adhesive tape peel

Researchers from 3M Corporate Research Materials Laboratory have been investigating the anatomy of the deformation of pressure sensitive adhesives from rigid substrates.

The extent of the deformation of any pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) during debonding, which is independent if the failure occurs under tensile, shear or peel modes, has been widely recognised as a critical factor determining its capacity to instantly bond, hold a load or resist debonding.

This paper attempts to decouple the three mechanistic steps of the lifetime of a pressure sensitive adhesive, namely bonding, holding, and debonding.

The researchers used their TA.XTplus to obtain debonding profiles in a 90 degree peel testing mode, focussing on the adhesive high strain modulus (as dictated by its crosslinking level), the peel rate and the substrate surface free energy. The experimental results suggest that both substrate surface energetics and bulk properties intrinsic to large deformation of viscoelastic materials must be considered when investigating PSAs debonding phenomena.

To read more, click or tap here...

Adhesives are used everywhere, but how do we know how good they are or which one to use? Let’s outline some of the methods now used to put tapes through their paces.

The value of the world market for self-adhesive tapes is set to expand at an annual pace of around 6.3% over the next few years, reaching $69 billion by 2022. Opportunities abound across an array of industries, from packaging and non-residential construction to electronics manufacturing.

Proven high performance will allow adhesive tapes to continue to compete against other joining, bonding and sealing technologies. However, as pressure on quality control departments steps up, it is essential to be able to assess accurately adhesive properties and strength to determine the ideal components for a particular tape and so optimise its performance.


3D printing of food

3D printers — machines that can fit on a desktop and create 3D objects from plastics, metals, and other raw materials — can do just about anything.

High-precision jets pump out custom medical implants at the press of a button. Carbon-fibre printers spit out automobile prototypes with jaw-dropping precision. And off-the-shelf modellers generate custom toys, jewellery, home decorations, and clothes with no more than a digital file.

But there’s a new frontier in 3D printing that’s only beginning to come into focus: food. Recent innovations have made possible machines that print, cook, and serve foods on a mass scale. Industry leaders think 3D food printers could improve the nutritional value of meals, produce intricate sculptures out of everyday foodstuff, and solve hunger in regions of the world that lack access to fresh, affordable ingredients. There’s no doubt about it — 3D food printing has come a long way. Here’s the latest in food research that is using 3D printing and the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure the results.

Scientists from The University of Queensland have been researching the optimisation of chocolate 3D printing by correlating thermal and flow properties with 3D structure modelling. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser, along with a custom break probe, to measure the snap force of 3D printed chocolate. The breaking strength of the samples was found to be strongly related to the support structure of the chocolate. This study demonstrated the use of flow enhancer and the inclusion of a support structure in the designed shape were key factors influencing printability capacity of chocolate.

To read more, click or tap here... 

Meanwhile, at the University of Jiangnan, scientists have been investigating the creation of internal structure of mashed potato construct by 3D printing, and its textural properties. Although it is relatively a new area of research, most of the papers about 3D food printing have been focusing on the materials' properties or the printing variables on the 3D printing performance. Previous to this paper, limited information on the modified texture properties of printed samples is available, although the 3D printing technique has the ability to change the internal structure of printed objects by varying infill pattern and infill percentages.

In this study, texture attributes of hardness and gumminess were obtained by texture profile analysis using a TA.XT2 Texture Analyser. The study confirmed that 3D printing has a potential to modify the textural properties of 3D printed samples through varying the infill percentage and the printing paths to fill the object, which possibly provides a novel way of tailoring textural properties of manufactured foods.

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Now that 3D-printing technology has become more vital and relevant than ever, Silicon Valley BeeHex has harnessed this technology (funded by a grant from NASA), to 3D print pizza. The purpose of this invention was to create a way for astronauts to select and product delicious food for themselves on missions.

As manned missions to Mars become an ever-increasing possibility, astronauts might be spending much more time in space. To save space-goers from the drudgery of choking down freeze-dried, pre-packaged “space food” day after day, month after month, NASA decided it was time to develop a way to cook in space.

As usual, they will need to make sure that all the key aspects of consumer satisfaction of the resulting printed food are in place and this is where a Texture Analyser comes in!

3D printer

Measuring the stickiness of adhesive tapes
Adhesive tape peel

Researchers from 3M Corporate Research Materials Laboratory have been investigating the anatomy of the deformation of pressure sensitive adhesives from rigid substrates.

The extent of the deformation of any pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) during debonding, which is independent if the failure occurs under tensile, shear or peel modes, has been widely recognised as a critical factor determining its capacity to instantly bond, hold a load or resist debonding.

This paper attempts to decouple the three mechanistic steps of the lifetime of a pressure sensitive adhesive, namely bonding, holding, and debonding.

The researchers used their TA.XTplus to obtain debonding profiles in a 90 degree peel testing mode, focussing on the adhesive high strain modulus (as dictated by its crosslinking level), the peel rate and the substrate surface free energy. The experimental results suggest that both substrate surface energetics and bulk properties intrinsic to large deformation of viscoelastic materials must be considered when investigating PSAs debonding phenomena.

To read more, click or tap here...

Adhesives are used everywhere, but how do we know how good they are or which one to use? Let’s outline some of the methods now used to put tapes through their paces.

The value of the world market for self-adhesive tapes is set to expand at an annual pace of around 6.3% over the next few years, reaching $69 billion by 2022. Opportunities abound across an array of industries, from packaging and non-residential construction to electronics manufacturing.

Proven high performance will allow adhesive tapes to continue to compete against other joining, bonding and sealing technologies. However, as pressure on quality control departments steps up, it is essential to be able to assess accurately adhesive properties and strength to determine the ideal components for a particular tape and so optimise its performance.


Research into organically-based films

At The Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, researchers have been researching active and intelligent films made from starchy sources and blackberry pulp.

They used their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser to carry out uniaxial tensile tests on the films. The high toughness of films derived from plantain starch make them extremely useful for packaging, as they could be used to produce films that absorb more energy without this being transmitted to the packaged foods. This could minimise the damage caused by impacts to the food during transport and storage.

To read more, click or tap here... 

Meanwhile, at the Horticultural Crops Technology Research Department, Giza, researchers have been investigating utilisation of orange wastes for production of value added products.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure the texture of osmotically dehydrated cubes of orange peel. After manufacture, waste from orange juices, concentrates and jam leave 10-15% waste out of the total production.

This waste is a bad source of pollution, insects, and rats especially when left inside factories without removal. This study helped to develop the use of this waste in producing new products.

To read more, click or tap here...

Tensile test on film

Japanese scientists probe the mysteries of food texture
Eating a burger

Food companies are watching with keen interest as researchers in Japan delve into the nuts and bolts of sensations like "crispness" and "springiness". Their findings are expected to lead to new and more appetising products. 

Taste, aroma and appearance are important factors in determining the appeal of foods, but the finer details of the dining experience are still little understood. The researchers are working to uncover the secrets of food texture by gathering data on "mouthfeel" and the microstructures of various ingredients.

Takashi Nakamura, a professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, is conducting studies on the springy textures of various kinds of starch.

Each type has its own characteristics. Tapioca, commonly found in bead-shaped form in Asian milk tea drinks, and "waxy cornstarch," used as a thickener in Japanese sweets, are different forms of starch. Their chewiness is similar, but the "waxy" form is easier to bite through, while tapioca has greater elasticity. The experience of eating them is filtered through the senses, so formulating a numerical index presents a challenge.

Quantifying 'crispy' and 'chewy' points the way to new and better products, according to Rimi Inomata of the Nikkei Asian Review.


Measuring peelability

Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark have developed a novel, standardised method that can provide a quantitative description of shrimp peelability.

The peeling process was based on the measure of the strength of the shell-muscle attachment of the shrimp using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser, and calculated into the peeling work. The self-consistent method, insensitive of the shrimp size, was proven valid for assessment of ice maturation of shrimps.

The quantitative peeling efficiency (peeling work) and performance (degree of shell removal) showed that the decrease in peeling work correlated with the amount of satisfactory peeled shrimps, indicating an effective weakening of the shell-muscle attachment.

The developed method provides the industry with a quantitative analysis for measurement of peeling efficiency and peeling performance of shrimps. It may be used for comparing different maturation conditions in relation to optimisation of shrimps peeling.

This is yet another area in which the capabilities of texture analysis help food manufacturers and suppliers understand the detailed properties of their products.

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Shrimps on platter

Helping to make eating easier for older people
Older shopper

The boom of 2 billion people over the last century has resulted in an ageing world population.

By 2025, the world will have almost 800 million people over the age of 65. About 556 million of them will be in developing countries, another 254 million in developed ones. In fact, the United Nations estimates that the global population age 60+ will soar from 11% in 2000 to 22% by 2050. While age is just a number, the numbers are certainly on the rise.

Texture is often taken for granted. The acts of chewing (mastication) and swallowing play a huge role not only in nutrient intake, but also in an enjoyable eating experience. This becomes difficult when dental health starts to degrade and salivary flow diminishes. Missing teeth and wearing dentures both impact the act of chewing and decrease biting forces.

Chewing efficiency can also be affected by a decrease in biting and chewing forces attributed to age-related changes in muscle strength. About 40% of elderly people have difficult chewing and swallowing food, and this difficulty has an obvious flow on effect for their health in terms of nutrition, wellbeing, and general quality of life.

Scientists from Ruakura Research Centre have been investigating novel meat-enriched foods for older consumers.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure bread texture and ice cream meltability. The study helped to develop products that elders could readily consume to meet nutrition requirements and address some of the common ailments associated with aging, such as loss of muscle mass and strength.

To read more, click or tap here... 

Meanwhile, at Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, scientists have been researching the relationships of oral comfort perception and bolus properties in the elderly for sponge cake and brioche.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser as a capillary rheometer by equipping it with a cylindrical piston with a capillary die attached to the bottom along with a cylindrical barrel. Boli were loaded into the capillary die immediately after collection from human subjects.

They found that for soft aerated cereal foods, stimulated salivary flow rate is the most important physiological variable that impacts the food bolus properties and the perception of oral comfort in the elderly, even more than the dental status. However, increasing the amount of fat seemed to lower the role of the stimulated flow rate and bolus hydration, likely by increasing lubrication. This highlighted the importance of the hydration and lubrication mechanisms in the oral processing and enjoyment of eating for this type of product in the elderly.

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How to make food more palatable while still easy to swallow is an area of ongoing research. By applying rheology, developing new texture models, and looking at the nutrition and swallowing behaviour of foods, a more scientific approach can be brought to the formulation and design of novel texture-modified food.


Looking into edible insect ingredients

At the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology, Valencia, scientists have been investigating insects as ingredients for bakery goods.

Due to a rising demand for proteins, the food industry is considering new alternative protein sources that can be used for human food. The aim of this research was to explore the potential use of insect flour as a protein-rich ingredient for bakery products.

The insects were ground and used to replace 5% of the wheat flour in doughs and breads. This affected rheological properties of the dough during mixing but did not significantly affect specific volume or texture. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform TPA tests on central bread slices.

To read more, click or tap here... 

Meanwhile, scientists from the University of Foggia have been researching the printability, quality and nutritional properties of 3D printed cereal based snacks enriched with edible insects. Mechanical properties of 3D printed snacks were measured using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser.

Printed snacks reproduced the overall structure of the designed object with sufficient fidelity. However, the addition of different levels of ground larvae of yellow mealworms modified the printability of dough, changing morphological and microstructure properties of raw snacks.

The overall results suggested that together with wheat flour, ground yellow mealworm could be a suitable ingredient to manufacture 3D printed foods with specific designs and improved nutritional quality without adverse impact on technological quality.

To find out more, click or tap here... 

Scientists from California State Polytechnic University have also been researching the effects of edible insect ingredients on the physicochemical and sensory properties of extruded rice products. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform hardness and adhesiveness assessments of the samples. Overall, the insect rice was found to have darker colour than the reference brown rice and to be softer and stickier in texture after cooking.

As a staple food providing 20% of the world’s dietary energy and consumed by more than 1 billion people, rice is an ideal vehicle to deliver nutrients carried by edible insects. The incorporation of insect flours in processed foods such as extruded rice products can greatly promote the consumer acceptance by disguising the ‘yuck’ factor associated with intact insects and this study showed that the texture of these products is not adversely affected by incorporating insect ingredients.

To read more, click or tap here... 

Insect innovation: Getting the right flavour and texture for your product is an online article including a report on some Finnish research on the best ways to process mealworms and crickets to get the optimal flavour and texture profile.

Click or tap here to read it... 

Silkworm pupae

Using sound for more accurate crispness testing
Acoustic Envelope Detector

Scientists from the Technical University of Munich have been investigating the classification of puffed snacks freshness based on crispiness-related mechanical and acoustical properties.

They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform sound-insulated crushing tests on samples equilibrated at different humidity levels. Crispness is a very challenging property to measure using texture analysis alone, and so this study combined 70 different food properties via machine learning algorithms. Sensory panels then ranked crispiness-related freshness and preference based on the recorded sounds.

Selected feature combinations were used to train machine learning models to recognise the freshness levels at different humidity levels. The classification accuracy was improved compared with traditional texture analysis techniques and an accuracy of up to 92% could be achieved.

To read more, click or tap here... 

Scientists from Mustafa Kemal University have been researching the assessment of acoustic-mechanical measurements for the crispness of wafer products. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser along with the Acoustic Envelope Detector to perform mechanical and acoustic fracture measurements on wafer samples – three point bend tests and a craft knife cutting test.

Both tests were found to be able to distinguish acoustic-mechanical properties of wafer products; wafers’ crispness could be differentiated by the parameters of the cutting test and their creaminess was related to mechanical parameters of the three point bend test. Force peaks number and maximum sound pressure showed correlation on both tests.

The study showed that these techniques are capable of differentiating crispy products of different qualities, in different ways.

To find out more, click or tap here... 


New advances in transcutaneous delivery

Researchers from Osaka University have been developing novel double-decker microneedle patches for transcutaneous vaccine delivery.

Two types of patch were assessed. Mechanical failure tests were performed with a TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. Each patch was loaded until failure. The required force for mechanical microneedle fracture was measured and the necessary fracture force per needle was calculated by dividing the measured fracture force by the number of fractured needles.

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Meanwhile, scientists from Queen’s University Belfast have been investigating novel bilayer dissolving microneedle arrays with concentrated PLGA nanomicroparticles for targeted intradermal delivery. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure the mechanical and insertion properties of nano- and microparticle-loaded microneedle arrays.

These delivery systems continue to receive growing attention due to their ability to bypass the skin's stratum corneum barrier in a minimally-invasive fashion and achieve enhanced transdermal drug delivery and “targeted” intradermal vaccine administration. This study developed a two-stage novel processing strategy to provide a simple and easy method for localising particulate delivery systems into dissolving microneedle arrays.

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Trancutaneous delivery patch

Investigating textural properties of freshwater fish
Sorting fish

Researchers from Federal Fluminense University in Brazil have been investigating instrumental texture parameters as freshness indicators in five farmed Brazilian freshwater fish species.

The aim of this study was to assess the chemical quality and instrumental texture parameters of the samples. Texture profile analysis was performed on standardised size fillets using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser.

They found that with regard to the instrumental texture parameters, firmness, hardness, and chewiness decreased at the beginning of the storage period, whereas an increase was observed in springiness. All instrumental texture parameters demonstrated high correlations with ammonia and TCA-soluble peptides.

The increase in certain biogenic amines (putrescine, cadaverine, and spermine) seems to correlate well with decreases observed in firmness, hardness, and chewiness. In addition, a strong relationship was observed between the initial days of storage and instrumental texture parameters, while a significant correlation between the end of the storage and the chemical quality analyses was verified.

Firmness, hardness, chewiness, and cohesiveness were considered parameters with high potential in the evaluation of fish freshness during the first days of storage, whereas the chemical quality analyses and springiness were considered important for later evaluation of fish quality. Therefore, instrumental texture parameters may be used as quality indicators in the evaluation of freshwater fish freshness.

To find out more, click or tap here... 


Texture analysis in determination of 3d printability indicators

The printability of materials used in extrusion based 3D printing is one of the most important properties especially when fabricating objects with architectural complexities.

However, this parameter is influenced by several factors (temperature, components, and additives) which makes thorough evaluation and classification challenging. Researchers at Korea University have been investigating the printability of materials used in extrusion-based 3D printing, which is a very important property, particularly in materials with a complex structure.

Hydrocolloids were used as a reference material to simulate the printability of various types of food applications. After samples were prepared, they were subject to a number of tests including storage and dimensional stability, an assessment of handling properties and a 3D printing test. Additionally, Texture Profile Analysis was carried out using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser.

The deformation behaviour and handling properties of selected food were classified based on the reference material which enables a printability classification system to be established based on the capability in dimensional stability and degree of handling.

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Meanwhile, researchers from Jiangnan University have been investigating lemon juice gel as a food material for 3D printing and optimising printing parameters. Among rheological and NMR tests, texture profile analysis was used, carried out on a TA.XT2 Texture Analyser.

With the increase of starch content, the hardness, springiness, cohesiveness and gumminess of lemon juice gel was increased to different extents, resulting in a stronger ability to resist external damage.

The rheological properties were used as indicators to determine printability and provide basic research on 3D printing for other gel and starch products in this exciting area of new product development.

Click or tap here to read more... 

3D printer


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