How to measure and analyse the texture of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Quantifying the mechanical properties of New Materials

Frayed rope under tension
In laboratories around the world, scientists are finding new ways to manipulate matter at increasingly small scales, as well as drawing inspiration from biological materials. 

This revolution is giving us substances with properties that were once confined to the pages of science fiction books. 

But these materials are more than just scientific curiosities – they are genuinely useful, to the point that as applications start to emerge they will radically change our world. Here are some amazing examples… 

 Together, Scientists and Spiders Create the Strongest Material Ever

For a long time, scientists have marvelled at spiders' ability to weave silk with incredible properties. The protein fibre that spiders spin to make their webs is stronger than almost anything humans can make. Now, with a bit of a push from scientists, spiders have actually created the strongest material known to humans. To read more:

A Durable Plastic Made From Cellulose And Water

An Australian company has created a material, Zeoform, that resembles plastic – and has been made into a number of forms, including furniture and eyeglass frames – but is composed entirely of cellulose and water. The cellulose comes either from plants such as hemp or flax or from recycled paper or textile waste so could leave little or no environmental footprint. To read more:  

If Aluminium Foil and Bubble Wrap had a baby…

Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, took a thin sheet of aluminum, created small indentations in it, and added a foaming agent in order to create bubbles within them. She then added another layer of aluminum, bonded them together, and put the whole thing in a furnace, where the heat changed the foamy bubbles to air pockets. The resulting material, a kind of metallic bubble wrap, weighs 20 to 30 percent less and is 30 to 50 percent more flexible than an untreated aluminum sheet. The material combines the best properties of sheet metal and bubble wrap; in addition to being lighter and stronger than sheet metal, it's much more resistant to heat and chemicals than traditional bubble wrap, and can be used to help reinforce thin spaces in items ranging from aircraft wings to computer cases. To read more: 

Plastics from Potato Cells and Crab Shells

Two designers have come up with eco-friendly alternatives to today's common plastic by using materials that would normally be discarded. Imperial College's Jeongwon Ji extracted chitin – "a natural polymer" – from Chinese mitten crab shells and combined it with other ingredients to create a paste that can be moulded into a kind of grainy rubber. Designer Ivy Wang, working with a research lab at Leeds University, compressed potato cell walls left over from biofuel production to develop a flexible, durable material.

The production of biodegradable plastic is expected to grow significantly by 2020, and will ideally help mitigate the environmental damage caused by traditional plastics. Wang's bioplastic could put a lot of biofuel byproduct – about 2.5 tons per hectare of potatoes – to good use. 

And although prized in Asia as a delicacy, the Chinese mitten crab is considered a nuisance in the UK, so Ji's bioplastic could serve as a form of pest control. Even better, anything made from the chitin-based material will start to dissolve after being submerged in water for two weeks. Ji says, "It is about returning a kind of fragility to [objects] which usually only have a one or two year lifespan anyway." Taken from: 

But all of these materials will need to be tested to quantify such properties as compressional strength, flexibility, tensile strength, puncture resistance, etc. This is where a Texture Analyser can be employed to compress, bend, stretch, extrude, cut, puncture or snap a product and provide an objective analysis of the material’s physical capabilities.

To find out more visit our website…

For more information on how to measure texture, please visit the Texture Analysis Properties section on our website.

TA.XTplus texture analyser with bloom jar The
TA.XTplus texture analyser is part of a family of texture analysis instruments and equipment from Stable Micro Systems. An extensive portfolio of specialist attachments is available to measure and analyse the textural properties of a huge range of food products. Our technical experts can also custom design instrument fixtures according to individual specifications.

No-one understands texture analysis like we do!

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Watch our video about testing of materials Putting Packaging to the Test
 Materials and Packaging Testing

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