Rheometry: Selecting the Right Measuring System

As the user of a modern rheometer you have many different measuring systems available for use. You can rheologically characterize almost all substances. But what are the criteria for choosing the correct measuring system?

To select the best measuring system for your sample, consider the following:

  • What is the samples’ consistency? Where is the sample located on the Rheology Road?
  • How much sample is available for the measurement?
  • How difficult is the cleaning?
  • Does the sample sediment or dry out?

What is the samples’ consistency? Where is the sample located on the Rheology Road?

The following figure gives an overview and rough classification of different substances, from low-viscosity liquids to solids. Each column lists the most common test types and a recommended measuring system. The lower the viscosity of a sample, the larger the surface of the measuring bob should be.

Low-viscosity samples are often measured in cylinder measuring systems. At high shear rates the centrifugal forces lead to turbulence in the measuring gap (Taylor vortices). This leads to an apparent increase in the viscosity. Therefore, a critical shear rate limit should not be exceeded.

My recommendation: The more viscous the substance, the more likely it is that a cone-plate or parallel plate measuring system should be used.

Rheology Road (DG: double-gap measuring system, CC: cylinder measuring system, CP: cone-plate measuring system, PP: parallel plate measuring system, SRF: Solid Rectangular Fixture, UXF and SER: Extensional Rheometer Systems)

How much sample is available for the measurement?

Sometimes the choice of measuring system is limited because only a small volume of sample is available and therefore cylinder measuring systems cannot be used.

In this case I recommend using a cone-plate or parallel plate system. With a CP40-0.3 (diameter: 40 mm, angle: 0.3°) cone you only need, for example, 0.09 mL of sample.

How difficult is the cleaning?

If the measuring system is difficult to clean after a measurement, use a parallel plate or cone-plate system instead. Cylinder measuring systems are relatively difficult to clean.

There are disposable systems available for all measuring system types. These can be disposed of along with the sample or cleaned separately. This is required for samples which undergo a curing process.

Does the sample sediment or dry out?

If your sample contains solvent and you use parallel plate, cone-plate or double-gap systems, the sample may dry out around the edge. The resulting measured viscosity is too high.

If possible, use a cylinder measuring system. Even if the sample surface dries out, this does not affect the results when using cylinder measuring systems.

When using cone-plate and parallel plate measuring systems there are several ways of stopping the sample drying out:

  • You can coat the sample around the edge with low-viscosity silicon oil.
  • You can use a solvent trap which results in a saturated solvent atmosphere.
  • If a Peltier-controlled hood is used, you can add an Evaporation Blocker which optimally seals and reduces the sample area.

If your sample tends to sediment, the viscosity values may be too low as only the liquid phase is measured. For such samples I recommend using cylinder measuring systems.

Special solutions

If your sample slides or slips, you should use sandblasted or profiled measuring systems. For very aggressive samples you can request measuring systems made of special materials. If your sample contains particles which are bigger than 1 mm, I recommend using the Ball Measuring System or a vane geometry.

If you use special systems it is important to measure your sample in the same way every time in order to obtain comparable results.

Further information

Learn more about rheological measuring systems, applications, tips & tricks and solutions: www.world-of-rheology.com is a comprehensive knowledge base featuring interesting facts related to different industries and applications.

  Learn more @ Anton Paar

Show all comments (7)
  • Hi,

    I am a student of the National University of Malaysia. We have Anton Par MCR 301 in our lab. From the recommendation above, it showed that oscillation test is recommended for soft food, whereas torsion for foods. I wonder if i can use the rheometer to determine the physical properties of baked cakes (brownies)? If possible, which test is suitable for my research?

    Best regards,
    Yew Hui Li

    • Hello Yew Hui Li,
      you can measure brownies good in oscillation. I recommend a profield 25 mm lower and upper platte. You can prepare the sample with a puncher with 25 mm diameter. The height of the cakesample should be 3-5 mm. During the test I would set the normalforce to 1 N to be sure that you have a good contact between the cake and the lower and upper plate. I would perform an amplitudesweep starting with a deformation of 0,01% up to 100 %

      Best regards
      Jürgen Utz

  • Hi All,

    I am a PhD student at Monash, Australia and just started working with Anton Par MCR 301 for some viscoelastic analysis. I wonder if I can use the same sample (after it is insert to the plate) to measure different profiles such as amplitude sweep/frequency sweep or time sweep?

    or do I need to enter a sample from same batch every time to the parallel plate when I perform a different test?

    • Hello Uchitha,

      you should always use a fresh sample for every new test.
      Only if you measured the first test in the viscoelastic regime (e.g. when performing a frequenzsweep) you could use the same sample for another test.

      Regards Jürgen Utz

  • Hi,
    I am a polymer researcher in jam petrochemical company in Iran. We have MCR 502 in our lab. We wish to characterize elongational viscosity of polyethylene melts (HDPE, LLDPE and LDPE). You have SER3 and UXF12 for elongational viscosty measurement. which one is better for our goal.

    best regards

    • Hi Hannan,

      For elongation viscosity measurements with MCR 502 we recommend the SER 3 because of the uniform deformation of the sample from both sides.
      The UXF is a universal extensional fixture. It is used for oscillatory measurements (DMA in tension) as well as rotational measurements for measuring the extensional viscosity of melts. But the measurements are done in a non-uniform deformation.
      If elongation viscosity is your main application we recommend SER3, if DMA (Dynamic mechanical Analysis) is you main application we recommend the UXF.

      If you would like to be contacted by Anton Paar expert near you, kindly place your request at socialmedia@anton-paar.com. We’ll be happy to forward your inquiry.

      Best regards,
      Anton Paar

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