Focus variation technology as a tool for tissue surface characterization

Jürgen Reitbauer, Franz Harrer, Rene Eckhart*, Wolfgang Bauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The surface of tissue paper is relatively complex compared to other paper grades and consists of several overlapping structures like protruding fibres, crepe and fabric-based patterns at different spatial frequencies. The knowledge of tissue surface characteristics is crucial when it comes to improvement with respect to surface softness and the perceptual handfeel of tissue products. In this work we used the optical based, non-contact measurement principle of focus variation for surface characterization of dry-creped, textured and through air dried (TAD) tissue. Based on the three tissue grades, a procedure which includes the characterization of the whole tissue surface throughout different scales within one setup, was developed. Surprisingly, focus variation was rarely used in tissue-related research, as it provides robust and reliable 3D surface information which can be used for further areal surface analysis. Special attention was given to the preparation and discussion of the raw data up to the final analysis including several spatial filtering steps. Enhanced surface parameters like the developed interfacial area ratio (Sdr) and the power spectral density (PSD) were used to describe the surface adequately. The surface roughness of the three tissue grades was compared, with the textured tissue showing the highest roughness in Sdr and PSD analysis. Although both methods are based on different principles, a high correlation in terms of evaluated roughness is evident. Regular structures like crepe and patterns are obtainable as peaks at the respective frequency with a certain intensity in the PSD evaluation. Apart from topography in terms of structures and roughness, the wide field of view of the focus variation measurement also allows assessment of effects related to flocculation and sheet formation. The developed procedure could also be appropriate for other fibre based materials and/or fabrics, which are similar to tissue with respect to optical properties such as for example nonwovens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6813-6827
Number of pages15
Issue number11
Early online date28 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • 3D Imaging
  • Focus variation microscopy
  • Power spectral density
  • Surface roughness
  • Tissue Surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Polymers and Plastics

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