Texture analyzers evaluate the cohesiveness, spreadibility, fracturability, tackiness, gumminess, firmness, pliability, consistency and other texture characteristics of foods, rubber, foams, coatings, grease, asphalt and other materials. They differ in terms of display type and features. Some texture analyzers display data with an analog meter or simple visual indicator. Others feature digital, numeric, or application-specific displays. Texture analyzers that use a cathode ray tube (CRT), liquid crystal display (LCD), or other multi-line form are also available. Often, these products can be connected to a network or personal computer (PC) for data transfer or test control.
Texture analysis is concerned primarily with the evaluation of mechanical characteristics. For example, a food may be subjected to a controlled force from which a deformation curve of its response is generated. In this way, texture analyzers are an important part of the production chain. They provide benefits throughout, from research and development (R&D) to process optimization and production. Characteristics that affect finished product texture quality are identified during the initial stages of development. Later, texture analyzers are used in process-control measurements.
Selecting Texture Analyzers
Selecting texture analyzers requires an understanding of the properties that devices are designed to measure. Brittleness or friability is a measure of how easily a material can be fractured, crushed, or broken. Cohesion and compactability are important properties for understanding the processing or end-use function of powders and other granular or compressible materials. Consistency is the amount of dry solids (% solids) or fibers in pulp or paper stock. It determines how the pulp can be formed and processed into paper. Texture analyzers are also used to measure plasticity, the amount of permanent plastic deformation a material can withstand without cracking.
Texture analyzers may be used to evaluate flowability, floodability, and smoothness. Flowability provides an indication of the flow characteristics of a powder, granular material, slurry or liquid. Powder flowability is determine through Carr index, basic flow index (BFI), Hausner ratio, angle of repose, internal friction, degree of floodability and other specialized or proprietary flow tests. Floodability is the degree to which a powder self-aerates and flows like a liquid. Texture analyzers may also be used to perform slump tests, which determine the flowability or workability of a concrete, mortar or cement-based material.