The mouth-feel or oral perception of a food may vary in different oral surfaces or tongue-palate environment depending on the physical characteristics of human tongue. Tribological measurements emulating the characteristics of tongue-palate environment will assist in the evaluation of oral perception of food materials. This study reports a 3D printing assisted approach for rapid fabrication of the soft elastomer substrates with different surface (roughness) and bulk characteristics (elastic modulus and thickness) for tribological measurements. The influence of substrates with various regularly patterned surfaces, elastic modulus, and thickness on the lubrication properties of four food emulsions (full-fat and skim milk, high-fat and low-fat yoghurt) has been investigated. It is observed that friction coefficient of food emulsions increases with a decrease in height or an increase in density of rectangular micro-scale pillars representing papillae on the surface of soft substrate. Interestingly, a decrease in the elastic modulus of the substrates causes an increase in the friction coefficient for the milk samples, whereas for yoghurt samples it causes a decrease. The variations in the thickness of the substrates have little effect on the friction coefficients of the food emulsions.
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