paper making

Chemical pulping

Main articles: kraft process, sulfite process, and soda pulpingTo make pulp from wood, a chemical pulping process separates lignin from cellulose fibre. A cooking liquor is used to dissolve the lignin, which is then washed from the cellulose; this preserves the length of the cellulose fibres. Paper made from chemical pulps are also known as wood-free papers (not to be confused with tree-free paper); this is because they do not contain lignin, which deteriorates over time. The pulp can also be bleached to produce white paper, but this consumes 5% of the fibres. Chemical pulping processes are not used to make paper made from cotton, which is already 90% cellulose.

Mechanical pulping

There are two major mechanical pulps: thermomechanical pulp (TMP) and groundwood pulp (GW). In the TMP process, wood is chipped and then fed into steam-heated refiners, where the chips are squeezed and converted to fibres between two steel discs. In the groundwood process, debarked logs are fed into grinders where they are pressed against rotating stones to be made into fibres. Mechanical pulping does not remove the lignin, so the yield is very high, > 95%; however, lignin causes the paper thus produced to turn yellow and become brittle over time. Mechanical pulps have rather short fibres, thus producing weak paper. Although large amounts of electrical energy are required to produce mechanical pulp, it costs less than the chemical kind.

De-inked pulp

Paper recycling processes can use either Chemically or mechanically produced pulp; by mixing it with water and applying mechanical action the hydrogen bonds in the paper can be broken and fibres separated again. Most recycled paper contains a proportion of virgin fibre for the sake of quality; generally speaking, de-inked pulp is of the same quality or lower than the collected paper it was made from.


Besides the fibres, pulps may contain fillers such as chalk or china clay,[12] which improve its characteristics for printing or writing.[13] Additives for sizing purposes may be mixed with it or applied to the paper web later in the manufacturing process; the purpose of such sizing is to establish the correct level of surface absorbency to suit ink or paint.

Producing paper

Paper mill in Mänttä-Vilppula, FinlandThe pulp is fed to a paper machine, where it is formed as a paper web and the water is removed from it by pressing and drying.Pressing the sheet removes the water by force. Once the water is forced from the sheet, a special kind of felt, which is not to be confused with the traditional one, is used to collect the water. When making paper by hand, a blotter sheet is used instead.

The paper may then undergo sizing to alter its physical properties for use in various applications.Paper at this point is uncoated. Coated paper has a thin layer of material such as calcium carbonate or china clay applied to one or both sides in order to create a surface more suitable for high-resolution halftone screens. (Uncoated papers are rarely suitable for screens above 150 lpi.) Coated or uncoated papers may have their surfaces polished by calendering. Coated papers are divided into matte, semi-matte or silk, and gloss. Gloss papers give the highest optical density in the printed image.The paper is then fed onto reels if it is to be used on web printing presses, or cut into sheets for other printing processes or other purposes. The fibres in the paper basically run in the machine direction. Sheets are usually cut “long-grain”, i.e. with the grain parallel to the longer dimension of the sheet. Continuous form paper (or continuous stationery) is cut to width with holes punched at the edges, and folded into stacks.

Paper grain

All paper produced by paper machines as the Fourdrinier Machine are wove paper, i.e. the wire mesh that transports the web leaves a pattern that has the same density along the paper grain and across the grain. Textured finishes, watermarks and wire patterns imitating hand-made laid paper can be created by the use of appropriate rollers in the later stages of the machine.