Take a look behind the scenes at our research institute – click here to go on a virtual tour of KLEVERTEC.
The additive manufacturing zone is equipped with a 3D printer that uses selective laser sintering (SLS) technology, which enables the construction of polymer components from CAD data – without the need for tools or even supportive structures – in the build chamber measuring 200x250x330 mm. The ability to form one-off products with complex geometries is particularly useful for rapid-prototyping applications. The contour-accuracy of this process produces smooth surfaces that can then be post-processed to achieve the desired finish on-site.
Our development and design team creates CAD data from original designs or by means of 3D scanning. Technical models are first refined and optimised in SolidWorks prior to validation in virtual reality (visualisation using 3D goggles). Once the models have been generated this way, we can discuss and continue to refine them in a virtual environment before moving on to create the physical product, thus saving a significant amount of time and expense.
In the field of packaging solutions, autoclaves can be used to assess the thermal durability of packaging materials and identify any changes (mechanical, functional, structural) to their properties, also to trace effects on the packaged goods instrumentally and with sensors. We can also perform pasteurisation and sterilisation processes on products in our autoclaves.
For example, we can test new or alternative packaging materials, such as experimental plastic films, for comparison against reference products. If required, we can also generate supporting pressure.
The continuing trend towards online retail for food and consumer goods led us to construct a test bench specifically for packing solutions in this particular field, enabling us to examine how secure a packaging is, i.e. the mechanical protection of products, how well it controls temperatures (i.e. thermal protection), and the use of sustainable materials. Online retail, in particular, increases the demand for transporting refrigerated products in ways that maintain the legally prescribed temperatures and safeguard quality.
For testing exposure, we have a range of temperature-control and refrigeration cells alongside precision-testing chambers with additional climate control, including spacious refrigeration cells and a freezer in which we can regulate temperatures between room levels and deep freeze. There are also constant-climate chambers for storing samples at various temperatures and defined humidity levels (e.g. for testing exposure or simulating logistics and transportation), for example regulating conditions ranging from 10 °C and 70-80 % relative humidity to 70 °C and 10-80 % relative humidity. In addition, our precision-testing chambers can be used to subject samples to specific lighting conditions and temperatures (e.g. to simulate storage conditions in shops).
Our high-speed tumbler provides an innovative processing method for meat, rolling previously separate stages into one. A wide range of analyses can be conducted to evaluate changes in the meat’s structure and properties. We also have a conventional meat tumbler for comparison. Besides meat, other foodstuffs can also be subjected to this process if their texture is sensitive to pressure or shearing forces, such as mixed powders (seasonings), emulsions (mayonnaise or ointments) and manufacturing dough.
Our clean-fill system can be used to fill liquid-to-viscous products hygienically. The ability to dispense small doses using this system is particularly useful. In combination with the temperature-control/refrigeration cells and precision-testing chambers, we can conduct extensive exposure experiments with subsequent sensory and analytical evaluations.
Our semi-automatic tray-sealer can be used to package small doses in various formats. Products can be dispensed into a range of packaging materials, enclosed in different protective gases, made ready for dispatch and then evaluated according to the required quality parameters.
We can test packaging materials (foils, cartons, etc.) in the laboratory with the aid of a materials testing machine (10 kN all-round table-top), using its force transducers to test solid and/or durable materials, or those designed to withstand strong forces – both tension and compression. For example, we can examine the tensile strength of foils or conduct box compression tests (BCTs).
Our Packaging Lab is equipped with a UV-Vis-NIR spectrophotometer. Depending on the field of application, an integrating sphere (e.g. for examining foils) or a cuvette holder (e.g. for examining liquid samples) can be deployed in the multi-purpose large sample chamber. Three sensors enable us to evaluate wavelengths ranging from UV, through visible, to near-infrared light for examining packaging materials, such as foils, with regard to reflection, transmission and absorption. In particular, the light-permeability of food packaging can be determined using the spectrophotometer and thus the effects on photosensitive products.
The Packaging Lab is equipped with a microscope with universal white-light LED for illuminating materials and samples from either above or below. The attached camera means that images can be viewed and processed on a connected PC, while a rotary microtome can be used to process and produce precise microscopic sections as thin as 0.5-100 μm.
The laboratory is equipped with a rheometer for measuring rotation and oscillation to examine the flow behaviour and texture of products and determine their viscose or elastic characteristics. Tempering and sample-specific measuring systems (e.g. cylinder, double-gap, cone-and-plate or parallel-plate system) enable a wide range of examinations.
This instrument is used to measure particles via laser diffraction with a wet dispersing unit for measuring e.g. suspensions, emulsions or dispersed solids. The measurement range is 0.01 to 3,800 μm, and evaluations can be conducted using either the Fraunhofer or Mie theory.
For analysing milk and liquid or semi-liquid dairy products, our MilkoScan generates fast and accurate results using FTIR technology (after calibration) to ascertain the levels of constituent components such as protein, fat, free fatty acids, lactose, dry matter, etc. We can also identify any changes to the components, including full-spectrum, throughout storage. The resulting measurements can be combined with a sensory evaluation to draw conclusions regarding the shelf life and limiting factors.
The Sensory Lab has modular sensory booths for professional sampling. As KLEVERTEC conducts training on-site, we can take account of customers’ specific requirements. Furthermore, the products to be tested can be prepared/composed in a closed-off area.
Measurements can be taken to examine foodstuffs (e.g. textural analysis) and test materials (e.g. foils and other packaging). The materials testing machine can evaluate tension, compression, shearing and flexing. We can use various force transducers and measuring systems to examine samples with different properties and measurement sensitivities.
The Sensory Lab has a DigiEye for conducting optical examinations / taking digital colour measurements. The sealed chamber with controlled lighting conditions and a high-resolution camera combined with colour calibration are used to take accurate, non-destructive, contactless measurements of samples. Besides solid, homogeneous products, we can also examine soft, liquid and even lumpy (multicolour) samples and detect differences in colour. In the same manner, we can detect changes in colour throughout storage under different conditions (e.g. temperature, moisture, light) and identify factors that limit shelf life.