Viscosity can be determined by several approaches across a wide range of conditions.  These may include assaying across an increasing followed by decreasing shear rate (or shear stress) with either a continuous non-equilibrium ramp or step-wise that allows the sample to more stabilize at each increment.  These assays can be performed across temperatures ranging from 0 to 180C.  This sensitive and often discriminating assay can detect important rheological properties and subtle differences that may not be observed with and are often outside the operating range of a traditional viscometer. 

Figure 1 illustrates the basic principles and relationships of a viscosity determination.

Figure 2 compares the broad range of shear rates across common processes as well as the relative shear rate range of a traditional viscometer, rotational rheometer and capillary rheometer.

Figure 3 highlights an important potential oversight when using a viscometer instead of a rheometer to compare viscosity vs shear rate.  This classic example using a rheometer shows mayonnaise (black curve) as more viscous than honey (gold curve) at lower shear rates (<14/sec), both have same viscosity at 14/sec, and then becomes less viscous than honey with increasing shear rate due to shear thinning.  The response to increasing shear rate shows the shear thinning mayonnaise to be "non-Newtonian".  In contrast, honey maintaining a constant viscosity is a "Newtonian" material.  The extent and rate of a shear thinned sample to rheologically rebuild is quantified with a "Thixotropy" assay (see tab above).

Figure 4 demonstrates the ability to easily discern among oil samples with increasing amounts of surfactant that easily shear thin at a relatively low shear rate.  Depending on product requirements, it can also be helpful to  determine the zero (low)-shear viscosity to model at rest as well as the terminal viscosity under high shear.

Figure 5 demonstrates the accuracy, precision and sensitivity of a rotational rheometer to discern among water standards and highly aqueous (Newtonian) formulations having very low (1-1.5x water) and narrow range of viscosities.