How Paper Is Made?
Paper is a thin sheet material that is produced mechanically and chemically from wood, rags, grasses, or other vegetable sources. We cannot deny the importance of paper in our everyday lives. It is used for communicating, connecting, studying, art and so much more. We all are aware of the fact that paper comes from wood but how paper is made? How does wood is turned into paper sheets for us to use?
Talking about the process of how paper is made? It is a process involving several steps to convert the wood into different paper products for our use. Before looking at the process of paper making first let us discuss the importance of paper, where does paper comes from?
Paper Is World’s Favorite Material
Paper is being used for the last 2000 years. It has become an integral part of our daily used product. Though after the age of www (world wide web) printed version of the information is diminishing. Now books and newspapers are replaced with e-books and e-newspapers, greeting cards, and letter writing is shifted to messaging, emails, and social media conversations. Gone are the days when getting information from inked-up sheets of paper was the only available medium, this all seems very old-fashioned now.
But with all the new changes in communicating one thing is sure that we will not be able to abandon paper anytime soon. The paperless society is a dream of many for decades but it seems to be no nearer. Talking about the usage of paper is more than before. Huge amounts of paper are used in printing, packaging, diapers, building materials, and so on. When we say paper is the most favorite material of the world it won’t be an overstatement.
Where Does Paper Come From?
It won’t be a surprise if said that mostly paper comes from trees! When we talk about recycling paper and paper made from recycled material but we cannot deny the fact that the origin of recycled material is also somewhere from the forest. Though we all vote in the favor of recycled paper is better for the environment but the fact remains the same that all paper comes from the fiber of a tree.
Making Of Paper
The primary ingredient required by paper manufacturers is raw wood. this raw wood is turned into wood pulp. This pulp is a mixture of lignin, water, chemicals, and wood fibers. The pulp is created in two basic ways:
- Chemical pulping
- Mechanical pulping
Irrespective of the method used, the basic intention is to remove the lignin content from the pulp. Lignin act as a glue that holds the fiber together in a rigid cellular structure. To produce high-quality pulp, which produces high-quality paper, we need to remove a high amount of lignin from the pulp. You must have noticed some papers reverts or yellows when exposed to sunlight the basic reason behind this is the lignin compound in the paper.
Chemical pulping is the most common way to make pulp, it is also known as kraft pulping. In this method heat and chemicals are used to separate lignin from the cellulose wood fibers to create a mixture of pulp that will yield stronger paper as compared to other methods. Papers made from chemical pulp are usually brighter, smoother, and higher quality than their mechanically pulped counterparts.
On the other hand mechanical pulping uses machines to liquefy wood chips in the pulp. The pulp created by this method contains more lignin content from the chemical method, weaker, and is shorter in length. The paper obtained from this pulp is mostly used in newspapers, phonebooks, etc. These are typically very cost-effective. The mechanical pulping process uses remarkably more energy. The benefit, however, is there is very little waste as almost 95% of the raw material is converted to pulp.
Step By Step Guide On How Paper Is Made
There are various processes included to turn wood logs into paper. There are three vital processes in the process of how paper is made. These main processes have further steps that come under each process.
The following steps come under pulping.
- Debarking and Chipping
The first thing is to debark the logs. The barks are not required for papermaking therefore they need to be chipped off from the logs. These debarked logs are then cut into small pieces in order to start the process of pulping. The barks along with other by-products are usually used to generate power for the mill and other nearby areas.
- Chemical /Mechanical Pulping
These chipped log pieces are then converted into pulp by using chemical or mechanical pulping. During this process, the lignin is broken down to make pulp. Pulp is thick and less refined.
Once being mashed after pulping, the pulp can be screened and dried up to make cost-effective paper for high volume commodity printing paper like for newspaper.
For a higher quality paper, the pulp requires more work.
The pulp is pumped into a large papermaking machine, these machines are large and complex they stretch almost four times the length of an Olympic-size swimming pool and stand as high as a three-story building. The first section of this machine is called the headbox.
The soggy wet mass of pulp starts here. It could be a mixture of wood pulp and recycled paper fibers. The pulp mass is transmitted through a horizontal slit over a moving wire mesh to remove excess water.
- Wire section
In this section the fibers start taking the form of thin sheets, this process is also known as sheet formation
- Press section
These thin sheets or mats are moved into the press section at a speed of 90 km/h. Here the 50% of the water content is squeezed out of it.90% of the water used in the entire manufacturing paper is recycled.
These sheets after removal of water are then start heating up to be fully dried. The sheets are dried at above a hundred degrees Celsius over a series of cast-iron cylinders to make paper. But for the premium quality paper, more steps are required.
The paper is calendered with the help of rollers at the very end. they smooth the paper to create a uniform thickness. A coat of chemicals is applied to the surface of the dried paper to improve the properties of the paper before being rolled into a wide jumbo paper roll. The paper is all finished and ready to use.
But mostly our printers can’t print on paper of those big dimensions, so the jumbo rolls have to be cut up into smaller pieces.
- Finishing and packaging
The rolls or smaller sheets of paper are then further processed before being wrapped and packed into packaging according to different sizes. These are stacked in cartons and shipped worldwide.