Paper is an important part of modern society, we use it constantly in our everyday lives. We use it for communicating, we use it for art and petry, we write letters and record our thoughts and feelings. we use it to connecting and having fun with each other. But how is paper actually made? How do we turn wood into sheets of paper for our use?
Papermaking actually involves several processes to turn a piece of wood log into our paper products, these including writing paper, drawing paper, stickers, news paper, not books, etc... The list of paper products is endless. However there are three key steps to the process of papermaking.
But first lets start by asking the questiom, what is paper ?
In simple terms paper is a dried, compressed mat of plant fibers—nothing more, nothing less. It's a bit like clothing you can write on. No, really! Clothes are made by weaving together yarns such as cotton and wool spun from natural fibers. Paper is more like the fabric we call felt, made without the weaving stage by pressing together cellulose fibers extracted from plants and trees so they knit and fuse to form a strong, solid, but still very flexible mat.
Most paper pulp is made from trees (mainly fast-growing, evergreen conifers), though it can also be made from bamboo, cotton, hemp, jute, and a wide range of other plant materials. Smooth papers used for magazines or packaging often have materials such as china clay added so they print with a more colorful, glossy finish.
To kick-start the pulping process, the logs are debarked. The bark has to be stripped from the logs since it cannot be use in papermaking. The water used is filtered on the spot and reused for other logs, reducing the amount of water wastage. Together with other by-products of the manufacturing process, they are used to generate electricity to power up the mills and nearby towns. The debarked logs are then chipped into small pieces before undergoing a process called chemical pulping.
Chemical and Mechanical Pulping
This next process breaks down the chemical called lignin which is in the wood, and the end result is, pulp! Pulp is like a thicker, less refined version of paper.
Here's the basic idea: you take a plant, bash it about to release the fibers, and mix it with water to get a soggy suspension of fibers called pulp (or stock). Then spread the pulp out on a wire mesh so the fibers knit and bond together, squeeze the water away, dry out your pulp, and what you've got is paper!
After being meshed, screened and dried, the pulp can be used to make high paper and printing products, like newsprint and magazine paper. But to be turned into stationery paper, the pulp needs a little bit more work.
The pulp is pumped into a large papermaking machine, which stretches almost four times the length of an Olympic-size swimming pool and stands as high as a three-storey building. Starting at the first section called the head box, the pulp mass is squirted through a horizontal slit over a moving wire mesh to remove excess water.
Moving at almost 90 kilometres an hour, the thin mats are fed into the press section, where up to 50% of the water content is squeezed out, up to 90% of water in this entire manufacturing process is also recycled.
Paper making sheet drying
Once all these process's are completed the end paper can be used in all of the wonderful products that are solde by companies such as My Little Anget Arts & Crafts. Products such as scrap books, note books, and memo pads.
Here, the fibres begin to spread out and take the form of a thin sheet, thus giving this part of the process its name, sheet formation.
Things then start heating up as the sheets are dried at above a hundred degree Celsius over a series of cast-iron cylinders. But the journey for premium quality paper doesn’t end there.