Using a three-ball-on-plate configuration for soft tribology applications

Brogan Taylor, Tom Mills

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Friction tests are a valuable tool for the analysis of food formulations to understand how they may behave during oral processing. Generally, food laboratories do not own specialist tribological testing equipment. It is more common for them to own or use a rheometer for which most commercially available instruments now offer an attachment to measure friction. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of using a three-ball-on-plate rheometer attachment for soft tribology measurements by assessing the friction properties of various model food-like systems. In addition, results were compared to an existing tribological instrument frequently used in oral processing applications (a mini traction machine) under pure sliding conditions. Results show similarities between the two techniques for simple systems, showing friction results depend less on the specific geometry compared to complex systems. The three-ball-on-plate geometry for the rheometer allowed detailed measurement of the boundary lubrication regime due to achieving low speeds unavailable when using the mini traction machine. Going forward, the three-ball-on-plate tribology attachment will be an incredibly useful tool in oral processing applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109838
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Food Engineering
Early online date25 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Friction coefficient
  • Measurement
  • Rheometer
  • Soft tribology


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