The Paper Making Process

The paper making process: how the paper used for books, tissues, and many other uses is made.

Even in today's increasingly electronic age, paper plays a vital role in our lives. Newspapers tell us the events of the day, books entertain and educate us, and reports and homework are still handed in written or typed on paper. Paper has been with us since 105 A.D. Used by the Chinese and the Egyptians to make records, it spread to all parts of the world. First made entirely of rags, modern paper made from wood pulp is a faster and cheaper alternative.

The chemical process of making paper transforms logs into sheets of thin, fine layers. The logs are stripped of bark, cut into smaller sections, and are made into chips. The chips are put into a large tank called a digester and allowed to stew in a chemical mix under pressure. The wood pulp that is created by this process is then washed to remove any chemicals and pressed through screens to remove chunks and foreign objects. The pulp is drained of water to form a mass that is then bleached and washed again.

It is sent through a tub called a beater that rubs and presses the cellulose fibers of the pulp. The Jordan machine brushes and cuts the fibers and the Fourdrinier machine forms them into a mat. The machine then dries the sheet by passing it over suction boxes to drain the water. It is then flattened by press rolls and sent over steam-heated dryer rolls, finally passing through calender presses and s wound around the cylinder machine.

The paper is then ready for cutting and preparing. The make-up of the wood and chemicals used in processing determines the final form of the paper, but different things must be done to each kind. For paper used in writing or printing, glue may be added to the surface. Rosin and alum help keep the paper resistant to moisture and minerals such as clay may be added to smooth the surface. Absorbent paper like tissue may add a softening agent to make it feel smoother and paperboard may be coated in plastic to make inexpensive furniture.

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