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Technical & Practical

August 1, 2009

Viscosity: The Basics

An important concept, sometimes forgotten, is that viscosity is not a single-point measurement

Robert G. McGregor, Brookfield Engineering Laboratories

Most engineers know what viscosity is, but may have trouble explaining it. To be brief, viscosity is resistance to flow. For handlers of all materials that flow, either while being processed or in an end-use, it is important to think about the materials’ flow characteristics. The bottom line is to come up with ways to measure viscosity so that you can quantify whether a material will flow the way it needs to.

This article reacquaints the reader with the basic concepts and terminology for viscosity and addresses techniques to quantify it. An important concept, sometimes forgotten, is that a material’s viscosity is not a single-point measurement, but often depends on a number of factors.

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