Encyclopedia Britannica

  • Entertainment & Pop Culture
  • Geography & Travel
  • Health & Medicine
  • Lifestyles & Social Issues
  • Philosophy & Religion
  • Politics, Law & Government
  • Sports & Recreation
  • Visual Arts
  • World History
  • On This Day in History
  • Biographies
  • Top Questions
  • Week In Review
  • Infographics
  • Demystified
  • Image Galleries
  • One Good Fact
  • Britannica Explains In these videos, Britannica explains a variety of topics and answers frequently asked questions.
  • Britannica Classics Check out these retro videos from Encyclopedia Britannica’s archives.
  • #WTFact Videos In #WTFact Britannica shares some of the most bizarre facts we can find.
  • This Time in History In these videos, find out what happened this month (or any month!) in history.
  • Demystified Videos In Demystified, Britannica has all the answers to your burning questions.
  • Student Portal Britannica is the ultimate student resource for key school subjects like history, government, literature, and more.
  • COVID-19 Portal While this global health crisis continues to evolve, it can be useful to look to past pandemics to better understand how to respond today.
  • 100 Women Britannica celebrates the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, highlighting suffragists and history-making politicians.
  • Britannica Beyond We’ve created a new place where questions are at the center of learning. Go ahead. Ask. We won’t mind.
  • Saving Earth Britannica Presents Earth’s To-Do List for the 21st Century. Learn about the major environmental problems facing our planet and what can be done about them!
  • SpaceNext50 Britannica presents SpaceNext50, From the race to the Moon to space stewardship, we explore a wide range of subjects that feed our curiosity about space!
  • Introduction

Improvements in materials and processes

Introduction of machinery.


Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

paper mill

papermaking , formation of a matted or felted sheet, usually of cellulose fibres, from water suspension on a wire screen. Paper is the basic material used for written communication and the dissemination of information. In addition, paper and paperboard provide materials for hundreds of other uses, such as wrapping, packaging, toweling, insulating, and photography.

Learn in depth the process of how paper products are produced and recycled

The word paper is derived from the name of the reedy plant papyrus , which grows abundantly along the Nile River in Egypt . In ancient times, the fibrous layers within the stem of this plant were removed, placed side by side, and crossed at right angles with another set of layers similarly arranged. The sheet so formed was dampened and pressed. Upon drying, the gluelike sap of the plant, acting as an adhesive, cemented the layers together. Complete defibring, an indispensable element in modern papermaking, did not occur in the preparation of papyrus sheets. Papyrus was the most widely used writing material in ancient times, and many papyrus records still survive.

The papermaking process

Historical development.

Papermaking can be traced to about ad 105, when Ts’ai Lun , an official attached to the Imperial court of China , created a sheet of paper using mulberry and other bast fibres along with fishnets, old rags, and hemp waste. In its slow travel westward, the art of papermaking reached Samarkand , in Central Asia , in 751; and in 793 the first paper was made in Baghdad during the time of Hārūn ar-Rashīd, with the golden age of Islāmic culture that brought papermaking to the frontiers of Europe .

By the 14th century a number of paper mills existed in Europe, particularly in Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. The invention of printing in the 1450s brought a vastly increased demand for paper. Through the 18th century the papermaking process remained essentially unchanged, with linen and cotton rags furnishing the basic raw materials. Paper mills were increasingly plagued by shortages; in the 18th century they even advertised and solicited publicly for rags. It was evident that a process for utilizing a more abundant material was needed.

In 1800 a book was published that launched development of practical methods for manufacturing paper from wood pulp and other vegetable pulps. Several major pulping processes were gradually developed that relieved the paper industry of dependency upon cotton and linen rags and made modern large-scale production possible. These developments followed two distinct pathways. In one, fibres and fibre fragments were separated from the wood structure by mechanical means; and in the other, the wood was exposed to chemical solutions that dissolved and removed lignin and other wood components, leaving cellulose fibre behind. Made by mechanical methods, groundwood pulp contains all the components of wood and thus is not suitable for papers in which high whiteness and permanence are required. Chemical wood pulps such as soda and sulfite pulp (described below) are used when high brightness, strength, and permanence are required. Groundwood pulp was first made in Germany in 1840, but the process did not come into extensive use until about 1870. Soda pulp was first manufactured from wood in 1852 in England, and in 1867 a patent was issued in the United States for the sulfite pulping process.

A sheet of paper composed only of cellulosic fibres (“waterleaf”) is water absorbent. Hence, water-based inks and other aqueous liquids will penetrate and spread in it. Impregnation of the paper with various substances that retard such wetting and penetration is called sizing .

Before 1800, paper sheets were sized by impregnation with animal glue or vegetable gums, an expensive and tedious process. In 1800 Moritz Friedrich Illig in Germany discovered that paper could be sized in vats with rosin and alum. Although Illig published his discovery in 1807, the method did not come into wide use for about 25 years.

Discovery of the element chlorine in 1774 led to its use for bleaching paper stock. Lack of chemical knowledge at the time, however, resulted in production of inferior paper by the method, discrediting it for some years. Chlorine bleaching is a common papermaking technique today.

Prior to the invention of the paper machine, paper was made one sheet at a time by dipping a frame or mold with a screened bottom into a vat of stock. Lifting the mold allowed the water to drain, leaving the sheet on the screen. The sheet was then pressed and dried. The size of a single sheet was limited to the size of frame and mold that a man could lift from a vat of stock.

In 1798 Nicolas-Louis Robert in France constructed a moving screen belt that would receive a continuous flow of stock and deliver an unbroken sheet of wet paper to a pair of squeeze rolls. The French government recognized Robert’s work by the granting of a patent.

The paper machine did not become a practical reality, however, until two engineers in England, both familiar with Robert’s ideas, built an improved version for their employers, Henry and Sealy Fourdrinier , in 1807. The Fourdrinier brothers obtained a patent also. Two years later a cylinder paper machine (described below) was devised by John Dickinson , an English papermaker. From these crude beginnings, modern papermaking machines evolved. By 1875 paper coated by machinery was being made for use in the printing of halftones by the new photoengraving process, and in 1884 Carl F. Dahl invented sulfate (kraft) pulp in Danzig, Germany.

Although the paper machine symbolizes the mechanization of the paper industry, every step of production, from the felling of trees to the shipment of the finished product, has also seen a dramatic increase in mechanization, thus reducing hand labour. As papermaking operations require the repeated movement of large amounts of material, the design and mechanization of materials-handling equipment has been and continues to be an important aspect of industry development.

Although modern inventions and engineering have transformed an ancient craft into a highly technical industry, the basic operations in papermaking remain the same to this day. The steps in the process are as follows: (1) a suspension of cellulosic fibre is prepared by beating it in water so that the fibres are thoroughly separated and saturated with water; (2) the paper stock is filtered on a woven screen to form a matted sheet of fibre; (3) the wet sheet is pressed and compacted to squeeze out a large proportion of water; (4) the remaining water is removed by evaporation; and (5) depending upon use requirements, the dry paper sheet is further compressed, coated, or impregnated.

The differences among various grades and types of paper are determined by: (1) the type of fibre or pulp, (2) the degree of beating or refining of the stock, (3) the addition of various materials to the stock, (4) formation conditions of the sheet, including basis weight, or substance per unit area, and (5) the physical or chemical treatment applied to the paper after its formation.

Please note that Internet Explorer version 8.x is not supported as of January 1, 2016. Please refer to this page for more information.


Papermaking potential improvement of secondary fibers by enzyme treatment.

From: Biermann's Handbook of Pulp and Paper (Third Edition) , 2018

Related terms:

21st European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering

Aino Ropponen , ... Risto Ritala , in Computer Aided Chemical Engineering , 2011

1 Introduction

Papermaking is a complex process in which paper is produced from pulp (wood), water, filler, and chemicals. The goal in papermaking is to produce paper having the specified quality while minimizing the costs. The process consists of several subprocesses in which raw materials are prepared, mixed and diluted with water, the paper web is formed and water is removed. In Figure 1 a simplified sketch of the papermaking process is presented. The process is strongly affected by the web breaks. If the paper web breaks during the run, all the production is discarded. The discarded production, called broke, is diluted, stored and reused as raw material for papermaking. In order to manage stochastic disturbances the papermaking process has several storage towers for pulp and water acting as buffers. One of the key tasks when operating paper production is to manage the flows in this tower system. Rapid changes in the flows may be needed to prevent the storages running empty or over, and as the flows also cause changes to the paper quality, the goals of flow management are conflicting. The flow management is the easier, the larger the tower volumes, but the capital cost increases as a function of the volume.

articles about paper making

Figure 1 . In papermaking, pulp, raw materials and water are first mixed, then at the paper machine the web is formed and water is removed. The water removed and the production discarded are stored into towers and reused in the process. In this study, the towers considered are: clean water, 0-water, broke and dry broke towers. The flows to be optimized are denoted by u 1 … u 5 .

This paper focuses on the flow management issues described above. We consider four storage towers and present an optimization strategy for the design and operation of these towers. The overall goal is to optimize the volumes of the towers by finding a tradeoff between the capital/investment costs of the towers and the operational performance of the process. For each design candidate an optimal operational policy for flows needs to be solved. Thus a bi-level multiobjective [ 1–2 ] stochastic optimization model is addressed featuring at the lower level a dynamic operational optimization problem, and at the upper level a design problem formulation for the optimization of the storage volumes and operational policy. At both levels the objectives are conflicting. The solution strategy presented for the bi-level problem enhances that of the broke tower optimization [ 3 ] to a more complex system of four towers.

This paper is organized as follows. In Section 2 , the optimization solution strategy for the stochastic operational problem is presented while Section 3 discusses the design solution strategy. Finally, Section 4 provides a short summary and highlights the ongoing research directions.

Nanocellulose for Industrial Use

Angeles Blanco , ... Carlos Negro , in Handbook of Nanomaterials for Industrial Applications , 2018

5.4.6 Papermaking

Papermaking is a sustainable industrial sector in which paper recycling has been recognized as being of great importance. In Europe, 54% of the paper industry’s feedstock comes from recovered paper, which corresponds to a paper recycling rate of 72% [463] . However, one of the main problems in the utilization of secondary fibers is to maintain the quality levels of the paper products, which is continuously increasing following customer demands. In order to maintain their competitiveness, papermakers must reduce production costs and develop new paper products that approach the high potential of paper as a biodegradable material, e.g., to replace plastics. In this framework, nanocelluloses have a high potential as strengthening agents, components of retention systems, aids to control printing quality (decreasing linting problems) [357,464] , coating binders [465] , air permeability controller aids [358,466,467] , and special additives in technology papers [359] . In fact, Lindström and Aulin [468] indicate that the more feasible and practical uses of nanocelluloses in the papermaking process are related to their use as a strength additive and for barrier applications in food packing ( Table 5.10 c).

The first researchers to use micro- and nanocelluloses as reinforcing agents in papermaking produced them from wood and applied them to virgin pulps to enhance the wet and the dry strength of paper [52,54,469–473] . Although CNF and CMF increase draining time of the pulp and enhance water retention by increasing hydrogen bonding [469] , it has been proved that the optimum selection of CNF retention agent and operation conditions is key to limit or avoid deteriorating the drainability of the pulp suspension when CNF is used [52] . For example, the use of 1   wt.% CNF in the recycled pulp in combination with 1   mg/g chitosan could be a way to obtain sheets with superior tensile strength (an increase of 32.56% was achieved) without decreasing drainage [474] . The CNF production method affects their effect on drainage too. González and Vilaseca [475] have demonstrated that enzymatic pretreatment combined with high-pressure homogenization can significantly improve mechanical strength properties without greatly affecting the drainage rate. Furthermore, CNF can be produced by bleaching and homogenization of pulp from agrowastes, without requiring TEMPO oxidation (with higher cost and environmental impact than bleaching), and the use of these CNF increases strength without deteriorating drainage process [315] .

Recent studies have also assessed the potential strength benefits of nanocellulose in recycled pulps [314,476,477] . Delgado-Aguilar and Gonzalez [476] demonstrated that paper containing 1.5   wt.% of CNF presented a higher tensile strength and stiffness than paper from beaten pulp with similar freeness and WRVs.

Most studies in papermaking have focused on the effect of CNF on paper properties, but the high specific surface area of CNF and their nature favor their interaction with flocculants in competition with other pulp components. In recycled pulp, in most cases CNF increased floc stability, while allowing the addition of a higher flocculant dose before reaching overdosing effects [474] .

The use of BC as reinforcement of paper has been tried too. Santos and Carbajo [478] have reinforced damaged papers by producing BC on the surface of different papers by the direct culture of K. sucrofermentans . Tabarsa and Sheykhnazari [479] tried BC to reinforce softwood pulp. Xiang and Liu [480] increased the tensile strength of bleached sugarcane bagasse pulp with BC and cationized BC. The results of these researches suggest the economical prospect for BC to be used as reinforcement in paper-based material.

All these aspects will be reviewed in the chapter “Nanofibrilated Cellulose as an Engineered Nanomaterial in Papermaking.”

Paper: History of Development

C. Warden Bowden , in Encyclopedia of Materials: Science and Technology , 2001

4 Papermaking Comes to the USA

Papermaking came to the USA in 1690 in Germantown, Pennsylvania, now a suburb of northern Philadelphia. William Rittenhouse brought his family to Germantown to establish a paper mill at the urging of William Penn. Rittenhouse had been making paper since he was 12   years old and had studied under papermakers in Germany and the Netherlands. He wanted land where he could not only build a mill, but also escape religious persecution. Rittenhouse chose a location near a major waterway, ensuring a regular supply of water to the mill. The clear, unpolluted river water was also essential to make the paper sheets white and bright. The new city of Philadelphia provided Rittenhouse with a good source of rags to make paper and a transportation route to sell the paper and to buy equipment. As with most early papermills, he had several financial partners to help defray the startup costs of the mill, which at the time averaged around $10000.

Paper in the USA was made in the same manner as it was in Europe. The major difference was the lack of rag sources in the New World. Benjamin Franklin financed the start up costs for 19 of the earliest mills. He also furnished rags to the mills in return for paper for his printing presses. However, when the need for paper became greater and supplies of rags from Europe were cut off, the papermakers began to experiment with alternative fibers. Papermakers became so important to the culture and economy that they were exempted from serving in the army, even during wartime. Straw, recycled cloth sacks, and mulberry bark were some of the more popular alternative fibers. Even cactus was used experimentally within an early Californian mill.

Paper Manufacture—Dry End Operation

Pratima Bajpai , in Biermann's Handbook of Pulp and Paper (Third Edition) , 2018

6.1 Introduction

The papermaking process is essentially a very large dewatering operation where a diluted solution of pulp suspension with less than 0.5% fiber solid is used. The major sections of a paper machine consist of the forming section, press section, and dryer section. In the forming section, the fibers present in the diluted pulp and water slurry form a paper web through drainage by gravity and applied suction below the forming fabric. In the press section, additional water is removed by mechanical pressure applied through the nips of a series of presses or rotating rolls, and the wet web is consolidated in this section. Most of the remaining water is evaporated and interfiber binding developed as the paper contacts a series of steam-heated cylinders in the dryer section. Water removal from the wet web to the final moisture level between 6% and 7% is a critical step of papermaking. A majority of the functional properties of paper are developed in this section.

Paper Products: Classification

J.F. Waterhouse , in Encyclopedia of Materials: Science and Technology , 2001

2.13 Ceramic Papers

The papermaking process can be used to produce papers with high levels of inorganic fiber, metals, and synthetic fibers. Ceramic papers made in this way are precursors to subsequent converting processes to form and mold the material as well as adding high-temperature bonding agents, if not already incorporated. In comparison with wood fibers, ceramic fibers are stiff, noncomformable, and devoid of any natural bonding agent. One approach to forming ceramic papers in papermaking is to incorporate a small fraction of wood fiber with low-level refining and possibly polymeric bonding agents.

The ceramic green sheet, to which it is sometimes referred, has been proposed for use in catalytic converter applications and other high-temperature gas treatment processes. In the catalytic converter, the ceramic green sheet after corrugating can be rolled into a porous tube and fired to produce a true ceramic. Cellulose and other organic additives are pyrolyzed during this process. Following this operation a platinum film can be applied and fired.

Pulp and Paper Production Processes and Energy Overview

Pratima Bajpai , in Pulp and Paper Industry , 2016

3.1.7 Stock Preparation and Papermaking

After pulping and bleaching, the pulp is processed into the stock used for papermaking .

The papermaking processes can be divided into the following process areas ( Holik, 2006; Smook, 2003; Biermann, 1996; Paulapuro, 2000 ):

Stock preparation

Optional finishing and coating

At nonintegrated mills, market pulp is dried, baled, and then shipped off-site to paper mills. At integrated mills, the paper mill uses the pulp manufactured on-site. The processing of pulp at integrated mills includes pulp blending specific to the desired paper product desired, dispersion in water, beating, and refining to add density and strength ( Lumiainen, 2000 ), and addition of any necessary wet additives (to create paper products with special properties or to facilitate the papermaking process) ( Krogerus, 2007 ). Wet additives include resins and waxes for water repellency; fillers such as clays, silicas, talc, inorganic/organic dyes for coloring; and certain inorganic chemicals (calcium sulfate, zinc sulfide, and titanium dioxide) for improved texture, print quality, opacity, and brightness ( EPA, 2002 ).

The creation of the paper is performed through wet-end and dry-end operations. These are discussed as follows:

Using a paper production machine, the processed pulp is converted into a paper product. At the beginning of this stage, the water content of the paper is greater than 99%. In the wet-end operation, the slurry of pulp is deposited onto a continuously moving belt that suctions the water from the slurry using gravity, vacuum chambers, and vacuum rolls. The continuous sheet then moves though additional rollers that compress the fibers and remove the residual water. Common forming machines are the Fourdrinier machines for thin sheets and the twin-wire formers and cylinder board machines for thick or multilayered sheets. The machines used for the manufacture of paper are technically highly sophisticated. The biggest of these machines are up to 10 m wide and up to 120 m in length. Despite variations in their construction, all of these papermaking machines consist of the same basic elements:

Wire section

Press section

Dryer section

The actual design of these elements depends on the type of paper being made. The speeds of the individual machines also vary significantly: however, up to 1400 m of paper per min can be produced. The function of the headbox is to evenly spread the highly diluted fiber mixture over the entire breadth of the papermaking machine. With a Fourdrinier type of machine, the mixture runs through a slit onto a flat, constantly revolving wire mesh or sieve (the wire section) ( Biermann, 1996; Smook, 2003; Buck, 2006 ). The fibers deposit themselves next to and on top of one another on the wire. At the same time, the water runs through the wire or is sucked off from below. It is in this way that a sheet of paper is formed. However, at the end of the filtering process, the paper sheet (web) still contains 80% water. The relatively fragile paper web is further drained using mechanical pressure in the press section. The web is guided by means of a highly absorbent, continuous felt cloth between rollers of steel, granite, or hard rubber. The paper web then proceeds to the dryer section. The dryer section of the paper machine consists of up to 100 steam-heated drying cylinders. The strengthened paper web is at first guided over the cylinders with help from felt sheets but later threads itself over the cylinders. Additional machine fittings can be used in the dryer section for adding special properties to the paper. An example of such a fitting is the size press (consisting of two smooth rollers), with which a durable solution of either starch or a synthetic-based material is applied to the predried paper web. In this way, for example, the surface strength (tearing strength) of the paper can be increased. Some paper machines have an extra smoothing process called a “calender,” which is added to the dryer section. The calender consists of several rollers arranged vertically one upon the other. By running the almost dry paper web between the rollers under high pressure, the paper is compacted and smoothed.

Finally, the finished paper web is wound up onto a steel shaft (reel). At this stage, the paper contains only 5–8% water (which is normal moisture content). The paper stays on the shaft until finishing or possible coating. Depending on the type of paper, such a shaft can hold up to 25 t – a sheet of paper about 60 km in length. The differing requirements of both the industry, which further processes the paper, and the end-user demand that some of the raw paper will have its surface further improved.

One of the important methods of surface improvement is coating. In this process, the raw paper is coated with a colored substance consisting of pigments and binders. A sealed paper surface is achieved through coating. A further smoothing of the paper surface is achieved with the help of another calender (called the “supercalender”). In this process, the paper runs between several rollers of varying hardness and material. This “ironing effect” gives the paper its smoothness and gloss. Another form of surface improvement can be achieved by coating the paper with, for instance, a synthetic material (plastic) to make it water or aroma proof. Normally, paper is not used in the full width or length in which it leaves the papermaking machine or the coater. In the finishing process, the rolls of paper are cut into smaller rolls by a reel cutter. Paper needed for quality printing is cut by a cross-cutter into format-cut sheets. With the so-called “simplex” cross-cutter, several paper webs conveyed from different rolls can be cut simultaneously to a uniform format. These – usually counted – sheets are placed in piles on palettes and packaged; the paper is partially packaged in reams of 100, 250, or 500 sheets.

Papermaking Chemistry

Flocculation in the papermaking system.

Flocculation in papermaking chemistry is analogous to coagulation except that a charged polymer is used to either decrease the repulsive forces or act with several particles at one time (bridging) to achieve aggregation. Consider the use of cationic polymers in a solution of wood fiber fines with negative surface charges. Without polymer, the fines repel each other due to the like charges. The addition of a low molecular weight cationic polymer will decrease the zeta potential so that fines may flocculate. Flocculation occurs by the bridging mechanism whereby small amounts of cationic polymer attach to the particles and create local neutral or positive charges (a patch), although the overall fine may have a net negative charge. Two patches, each on different particles, may form a bridge even though the overall zeta potential is still appreciably negative. The molecular weights of polymers are important to their use. Usually a minimum molecular weight is required for a particular application. High molecular weights allow direct bridging of particles. Sometimes two-component polymer systems are used, with one polymer having a low molecular weight (perhaps a few tens of thousands) to provide a suitable charge on a part of the surface and a second, high molecular weight molecule used to provide bridging between patches. High shear forces in solution must be avoided if high molecular weight is required in an application as shear forces will cleave large molecules. Branching of polymers (for a given overall molecular weight) decreases their effectiveness toward bridging particles. Like coagulation, flocculation can be reversible with shear forces (mixing or agitation), especially if the flocculation is weak when barely enough polymer is added to initiate flocculation. If too much polymer is added, charge reversal or steric stabilization may occur.

Wet-laid Fibrous Media

Derek B Purchas , Ken Sutherland , in Handbook of Filter Media (Second Edition) , 2002

4.4.1 Plastic fibres

The Japanese speciality papermaking company Tomoegawa Paper (3) was among the first to adapt the conventional wet-laid papermaking process so as to produce filter papers comprising 100% fibres of synthetic polymers (and also of metals). The fibre webs formed by filtration are bonded and strengthened by sintering. Representative of the resultant papers is the group of standard PTFE products summarized in Table 4.13 .

Table 4.13 . Examples of papers made from 100% PTFE fibres a

Important properties of these papers are their moulding and laminating characteristics. Sheets can be moulded into different shapes and forms, such as cylinders. In addition, sheets of different pore size can be laminated to form a graded pore structure.

In 1992 the German papermaker Papierfabrik Schoeller & Hoesch introduced a range of special papers based on Lenzing's high-temperature P84 polyimide fibre. Four grades were offered, but production was short-lived.

A typical set of data for wet-laid polyester media, for liquid filtration, are shown in Table 4.14 . These are intended for simple pressure filters used in industrial operations such as machine tool coolant separation.

Table 4.14 . Wet-laid polyester media for liquid filtration a

Spunbonded media such as Reemay, mostly made from polyester or polypropylene, are frequently used in place of conventional cellulose paper for many applications, including filtration. Detailed information on this material is provided in Section 3.5 of Chapter 3 .

Softwood Anatomy

The characteristics of papermaking fibers depend much on their anatomy. The pulping characteristics of various fiber sources are dependent on their species and growing conditions. Most softwood rays are uniseriate unless they contain resin canals; fusiform rays, when present, constitute about 5% of the rays. A few species are biseriate for at least a portion of the ray, but many species can be sporadically biseriate. The height of the ray (number of cells) is a useful tool for softwood identification. The most pronounced feature of softwoods is resin canals in those species which have them. Resin canals are voids surrounded by epithelium cells. Tyloses may occasionally form in the resin canals of heartwood. The pines, spruces, larches, and Douglas fir genera of Pinaceae contain normal resin canals in the longitudinal and radial directions. The radial canals are part of fusiform rays and are smaller than longitudinal resin canals. The resin canals in pines are particularly large and numerous and occur throughout the growth ring. In the other three genera, they are small, less numerous, appear to be missing from some growth rings, and may be grouped in small, tangential rows.

Colloid and Surface Chemistry

Flocculation in the papermaking system is analogous to coagulation, except that a charged polymer is used either to decrease the repulsive forces or to act with several particles at one time (bridging) to achieve aggregation. Consider the use of cationic polymers in a suspension of wood fiber fines with negative surface charges. Without polymers, the fines repel each other due to the like charges. The addition of a low-molecular-weight cationic polymer will decrease the zeta potential so that fines may flocculate.

Flocculation can also occur by the bridging mechanism, whereby small amounts of cationic polymer attach to the particles and create local neutral charges (a patch ), although the overall particle may have a net negative charge. Two patches, each on a different particle, may form a bridge even though the overall zeta potential is still appreciably negative.

The molecular weights of polymers are important to their use. Usually a minimum molecular weight is required for a particular application. High molecular weights allow direct bridging of particles. Sometimes two component polymer systems are used, with one polymer having a low molecular weight (perhaps a few tens of thousands) to provide suitable charge on a part of the surface and a second, high-molecular-weight molecule used to provide bridging between patches. High shear forces in solution must be avoided if high molecular weight is required in an application as shear forces will cleave large molecules. The use of branched polymers (for a given overall molecular weight) decreases their effectiveness toward bridging particles.

Like coagulation, flocculation can be reversible with shear forces (mixing or agitation), especially if the flocculation is weak, such as when barely enough polymer is added to initiate flocculation. If too much polymer is added, charge reversal or steric stabilization may occur. One area that has been overlooked by the paper industry, but offers great potential, is the use of diblock and other block polymers. This approach has the potential of allowing fillers to attach directly to fibers and fines to increase opacity. Also, fillers (of different indexes of refraction) could be made to attach to each other to increase light scattering. (Strictly speaking, coagulation and flocculation are both the clumping of small particles [like or not] together into groups; the terms are usually used interchangeably by colloid chemists, although coagulation implies a stronger interaction that is generally not reversible. [Admittedly, this is contradictory in terms of how these behave to shear forces in the papermaking system.] Coalescence is the fusion of two small particles into one large particle where the original particles are indistinguishable. Oil droplets of an oil-in-water emulsion may coalesce into larger oil droplets. The large materials may settle from solution if they are more dense, by sedimentation, or rise to the top if they are less dense, by creaming .)

Jump to main content.

Wastes - Resource Conservation - Common Wastes & Materials - Paper Recycling

Paper Making and Recycling

Over the centuries, paper has been made from a wide variety of materials such as cotton, wheat straw, sugar cane waste, flax, bamboo, wood, linen rags, and hemp. Regardless of the source, you need fiber to make paper. Today fiber comes mainly from two sources — wood and recycled paper products.

Paper mills differ in their processes based on the source of fiber used and the end product produced. There are three basic types of mills:

Pulp mills make pulp, a mixture of cellulose fibers and water used as the basis of all paper products. Pulp is made in several ways, depending on the type of paper being produced. Wood chips, which come from logs or from residues from sawmills, furniture manufacturers and other sources, can be chemically or mechanically separated into individual wood fibers in a process called pulping.

In chemical pulping, the most common pulping process in the United States, the wood chips are “cooked” in a digester at an elevated pressure with an appropriate solution of chemicals to dissolve the lignin (the “glue” that binds the fibers in the wood) and allow the cellulose fiber bundles in the wood to separate into individual cellulose fibers. Since chemical processing is gentle on the cellulose fiber, chemical pulps tend to have longer fibers and make strong paper such as printing and writing papers and paperboard.

In mechanical pulping, chemicals are not used to remove the lignin in the wood chips. Instead, wood chips are pressed against a grinder that physically separates the fibers. Mechanical pulps have shorter fiber lengths and produce papers which do not require as much strength — such as newsprint.

After the fibers have been separated, the mill washes and decontaminates the pulp. To produce a white paper product, the mill must bleach the pulp to remove color associated with remaining residual lignin. Typically, the bleaching chemicals (such as chlorine dioxide, oxygen, or hydrogen peroxide) are injected into the pulp and the resulting mixture is washed with water.

The bleached or unbleached wood pulp — which at this point is in a very dilute slurry — is then pumped onto rolling wire screen mats that vibrate slightly to allow water to drain out of the pulp and to help the fibers interlock into sheets. By varying the amount of pulp pumped onto the rolling mats, the speed of the mat, and the speed of the vibrations, paper with different qualities and properties can be achieved. The sheets then pass through a long series of rollers that press out any remaining moisture, followed by steam-heated drums that dry the paper. Finally, a process called calendaring polishes the sheets and smoothes out wrinkles. Large sheets of paper are wound onto rolls and can then be cut to produce a variety of paper products.

Top of Page

Recycled Paper Processing Mills

Recycled paper processing mills use paper as their feedstock. The recovered paper is combined with water in a large vessel called a pulper that acts like a blender to separate fibers in the paper sheets from each other. The resultant slurry then passes through screens and other separation processes to remove contaminants such as ink, clays, dirt, plastic and metals. The amount of contaminants that are acceptable in the pulp depends upon the type of paper being produced. Mechanical separation equipment includes coarse and fine screens, centrifugal cleaners, and dispersion or kneading units that break apart ink particles. Deinking processes use special systems aided by soaps or surfactants to wash or float ink and other particles away from the fiber.

Recovered fiber can be used to produce new paper products made entirely of recovered fiber (i.e. 100 percent recycled content) or from a blend of recovered and virgin fiber. Fiber cannot, however, be recycled endlessly. It is generally accepted that a fiber can be used five to seven times before it becomes too short (as a result of repulping and other handling) to be useable in new paper products. Recovered paper with long cellulose fibers (such as office paper) has the greatest flexibility for recycling as it can be used to produce new paper products that use either long or short fibers. Recovered paper with short cellulose fibers (such as newspaper) can only be recycled into other products that use short cellulose fibers. For this reason, recovered paper with long fibers is generally of higher value than recovered paper with short fiber.

Mills that Use Both Recycled and Virgin Fiber

Some mills use both recycled and virgin fiber to make paper. These mills are typically set up to process virgin wood into pulp and incorporate recovered fiber by buying bales of recycled pulp which are added to the wood pulp. Customer demand, environmental awareness, and economics are some of the reasons mills add recovered fiber to their products.

Local Navigation

Planet Protectors for Kids logo

This page contains articles on forestry, papermaking, pulping, recycling etc. If you are interested to publish your articles related to pulp and paper industry, please contact me

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of these articles are for INFORMATION ONLY . The webmaster and/or author (s) takes no responsibility for the correctness and/or accuracy of the information. User (s) is/are solely responsible for any and all decision (s) taken based on any information in the articles.

There is a lot of material, both old and new that had been "published internally" at IPST (formerly Institute of Paper Chemistry).  It is available on the Georgia Tech website, http://smartech.gatech.edu/handle/1853/124 .  The articles can be searched by author , title , or "words".  It would take a little time (probably less than 2 hours), but you can scan through all the article titles (A to black and white stripes) to see what might interest you.  All are downloadable (PDFs).  You can also sign up to be notified whenever a new article is posted.  It seems like a fine source for the work done at the old Institute of Paper Chemistry and now IPST.  Submitted by Chuck Green.

A list of 47 articles on Non-wood fiber at Agripulp.com


Production managers, mechanical engineers and all concerned would find this e-book very useful.

Paper stacked outside a paper mill with a smokestack in the background. Photo by John Vachon.

by Chris Woodford . Last updated: October 28, 2022.

Photo: Even in the computer age, we still use vast quantities of paper. This photo could have been taken yesterday; in fact, it was shot in 1943 at the huge Southland Paper Mills near Lufkin, Texas, and shows newsprint (paper for printing newspapers) made from wood pulp using the Kraft process. Photo by John Vachon for the Office of War Information, courtesy of US Library of Congress .

What is paper?

How is paper made, papermaking materials.

Photo: Look really closely at almost any ordinary paper and you'll see just how fibrous it is! The photo on the right is a closeup of the one on the left. It might look like a pile of folded fluffy bathroom towels, but really it's sheets of paper! This is 100 percent recycled Evolve paper made by M-real.

Photo: A small papermaking machine from the early 20th century. Photo by courtesy of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Photographic Collection .

How does a Fourdrinier machine work?

Photo: A detail of some of the rollers in a Fourdrinier machine. Photo by Russell Lee for the Office of War Information, courtesy of US Library of Congress .

Who invented paper and papermaking?

If you liked this article..., find out more, on this website.

On other sites

For older readers, for younger readers.

Text copyright © Chris Woodford 2009, 2022. All rights reserved. Full copyright notice and terms of use .

Rate this page

Save or share this page.

Press CTRL + D to bookmark this page for later or tell your friends about it with:

Cite this page

More to explore on our website....

Learning Center


Articles, Training, Videos, Tips, eBooks, and More!

Subscribe ›

by Ryan Casey , on July 17, 2017

How is Paper Made?

Paper is made in two steps:

Where Does Paper Pulp Come From?

Image of wood chips for paper pulp

Forestry Products

Most paper is made from forestry products, usually trees. The most common of trees that paper comes from are:

In most cases, the best parts of these trees are used for construction, and less desirable portions are used in pulp.

Cotton & Other Natural Fibers

Natural fibers such as cotton are used in some cases because its fibers are very strong. This makes it an excellent choice for documents that may need to be archived. This strength, combined with its unique feel is why cotton paper is popular for letterhead and other corporate stationary products.

Recycled Fibers

Many papers include different types of recycled content. These include:

How is Paper Pulp Made?

Image of paper pulp being mixed

Although many fibers were mentioned above, forestry products (logs from trees) are the source of most fiber in paper pulp. There are three main components, which must all be separated to make pulp.

The bark protects the fibers of the log, which are held together by lignin. The goal is to extract the fibers, and this is accomplished either using a chemical or mechanical process.

Paper mills all work a little bit differently, so please keep in mind that these are generalizations

What is Mechanical Pulp?

Since most paper starts as logs, there is a significant amount of bark. Bark does not work well for making paper, so the first step in the mechanical pulping process is to remove the bark from the logs. This excess material becomes a biomass energy source to help power the paper mill.

In most processes, the logs are ground up using a giant machine containing a rotating disk and a fixed steel plate. Usually, heat and chemicals are used to aid in this process.

Due to the "brute force" nature of mechanical pulping, both whole and partial fibers are created. In addition, the lignin is not removed from the paper. This gives the paper a grey-yellow color.

Papers made from mechanical pulp, are also known as "groundwood" papers.

The mechanical pulping process uses significantly more energy than is produced by the biomass power generated by the bark. The benefit however, is there is very little waste as nearly 95% of the raw material is able to be converted to pulp.

Papers made from mechanical pulps are also known as "groundwood fiber papers" and are typically very cost effective. An example of this type of paper is newsprint.

What is Chemical Pulp?

Like mechanical pulp, the process begins with whole logs. These logs are cut into small chunks of wood that are about 1/2" to 1" long, and 1/4" to 1/2" thick. This is done with a large scale version of the the wood chippers that landscaping companies use.

The wood chips are placed into a giant machine that combines them with really hot water and chemicals. This helps remove air pockets so that the chips will break down into fibers more easily.

Next, the wood chip and chemical mixture is moved into a pressure cooker. The wood chips spend about two hours at nearly 350 degrees farenheit. The combination of steam, chemicals, and pressure causes the chips to desintegrate. This leaves wood fibers, and a liquid called "black liquor."

In the next step, the black liquor is removed. The remaining fiber is cleaned in a variety of ways and sometimes bleached to ensure purity.

The majority of the waste in the process is black liquor - but these facilities typically operate in a "closed loop" system. The inorganics (chemicals) are recovered and re-used for the next batch of paper, while the remainder of the liquid (natural biomass) is converted to energy to operate the plant. In most cases, these more power is generated than is needed, so this creates an environmentally friendly power source for local communities.

Papers made from chemical pulp are usually brighter, smoother, and higher quality than their mechanically pulped counterparts.

How Does a Paper Making Machine Work?

Paper machines are comprised of 4 primary sections. These are:

Wet Press Section

Dryer section, calender section.

The primary purpose is to take wet fibers, press them together, dry them, and then make them smooth.

Here is more detail on each one of these steps:

Pulp is mixed with water as well as additional fillers and additives and then pumped onto a belt. This belt is typically made of a mesh that encourages all of the fibers to go in one direction. Much like wood, paper has a grain direction. The orentation of the fibers on this belt dictates the "grain direction" of the paper.

This section of the paper making machine has at least one roller to push the fibers onto the belt to help make sure that the paper grain goes in the right direction.

In the "Wet Press Section," the pulp moves off of the mesh belt onto a felt belt. While the felt used to be made of wool, these days synthetics are more normal. The pulp moves through a series of high pressure rollers designed to push the liquid into the felt.

As the felt rotates, it will go through its own drying station to remove moisture.

Once the pulp enters the "Dryer Section," it has started to take the shape of paper. This part of the machine weaves the web of paper through a series of heated rollers. Felt belts are also used in this part of the machine to give the moisture in the paper somewhere to go.

The last part of the machine is called the "Calendar Section." It uses rollers mounted opposite of each other to put pressure on the paper and create a smooth finish. The more of these rollers there are, the smoother the paper will be.

How Do Paper Mills Make Paper Glossy?

Image of woman inspecting glossy paper sheet

There are several ways to make paper glossy. These include supercalendering and coatings. Supercalendaring is used to add gloss to less expensive papers made from mechanical pulp, while coatings are used to add brightness and shine to higher quality stocks.

How Does Coated Paper Get Coated?

China clay as well as synthetic materials are often added to papers in order to make them glossy. This is done between the "wet-press" section and the "drying" section.

Not all coatings add gloss. Coatings also allow papers to be used in a variety of production processes, resist moisture, and many other scenarios.

What's a Supercalendered Paper?

The final section in a paper machine is the "Calender Section." This is where paper goes through a series of rollers that squeese the paper to make it really flat. What makes a paper "supercalendared" are a series of chrome rollers that spin faster than the paper is moving. If you can think of these rollers as tires on a car, and the paper as a road, then the rollers are doing a "burn out" on the paper.

I hope you enjoyed learning how paper is made. If you enjoyed this article, you could also read our other informative articles about paper:

Or if you want to talk to our professional team of experts about what paper choice would be a good fit for your next print project, go ahead and hit that bog "Talk to an Expert" button below.

Talk to an Expert ›

About Ryan Casey

Connect with Ryan Casey

Casey Printing Inc. 398 E. San Antonio Dr. King City, CA 93930

Phone: 831.385.3222

From Our Blog

Subscribe to our newsletter, connect with us.


Please fill the all required fields....!!

Pulp and Paper Manufacturing Process in the paper industry

articles about paper making

Paper plays a key role in our daily life and papers have been used for many years from now. Papers are made with the pulp of the woods, which is an Eco-friendly product.

Paper is made through the following processes:

1) Pulping procedure will be done to separate and clean the fibers

2) Refining procedure will be followed after pulping processes

3) Dilution process to form a thin fiber mixture

4) Formation of fibers on a thin screened

5) Pressurization to enhance the materials density

6) Drying to eliminate the density of materials

7) Finishing procedure to provide a suitable surface for usgae

Pulp and paper are made from cellulosic fibers and other plant materials. Some  synthetic materials may be used to impart special qualities to the finished product. Paper is made from wood fibers, but rags, flax, cotton linters, and bagasse (sugar cane residues) are also used in some papers. Used paper is also recycled, and after purifying and sometimes deinking, it is often blended with virgin fibers and reformed again into paper. Products such as cellulose acetate, rayon, cellulose esters that are made from cellulose will be used for packaging films, explosives.

The pulping process is aimed at removing lignin without loosing fiber strength, thereby freeing the fibers and removing impurities that cause discoloration and possible future disintegration of the paper.

Hemicellulose plays an important role in fiber-to-fiber bonding in papermaking. It is similar to cellulose in composition and function. Several extractives such as waxes, oleoresins are contained in wood but they do not contribute to its strength properties; these too are removed during the pulping process.

The fiber extracted from any plant can be used for paper. However, the strength and quality of fiber, and other factors complicate the pulping process. In general, the softwoods (e.g., pines, firs, and spruces) yield long and strong fibers that contribute strength to paper and they are used for boxes and packaging.

Hardwoods produce a weaker paper as they contain shorter fibers. Softwoods are smoother, transparent, and better suited for printing. Softwoods and hardwoods are used for paper-making and are sometimes mixed to provide both strength and print ability to the finished product.

Steps involved in the Pulp and Papermaking Procedure:

Preparation of raw Material

Wood that has been received at a pulp mill can be in different forms. It depends on the pulping process and the origin of the raw material. It may be received as bolts (short logs) of round-wood with the bark still attached, as chips about the size of a half-dollar that may have been produced from sawmill from debarked round wood elsewhere.

If round wood is used, it is first debarked, usually by tumbling in large steel drums where wash water may be applied. Those debarked wood bolts are then chipped in a chipper if the pulping process calls for chemical digestion. Chips are then screened for size, cleaned, and temporarily stored for further processing.

Separation of Fiber

In the fiber separation stage, several pulping technologies will be diverged. The chips are kept into a large pressure cooker (digester), into which is added the appropriate chemicals in kraft chemical pulping.

The chips are then digested with steam at specific temperatures to separate the fibers and partially dissolve the lignin and other extractives. Some digesters operate continuously with a constant feed of chips (furnish) and liquor are charged intermittently and treat a batch at a time.

After the digestion process, the cooked pulp is discharged into a pressure vessel. Here the steam and volatile materials are tubed off. After that, this cooked pulp is returned to the chemical recovery cycle.  Fiber separation in mechanical pulping is less dramatic.

Debarked logs are forced against rotating stone grinding wheels in the stone ground-wood procedure. Refiner pulp and thermo-mechanical pulp are produced by chips. These chips are ground by passing them through rapidly rotating in both processes.

In the second stage after refining, the pulp is screened, cleaned, and most of the process water is removed in preparation for paper making.

Bleaching Process

Raw pulp contains an appreciable amount of lignin and other discoloration, it must be bleached to produce light colored or white papers preferred for many products. The fibers are further delignified by solubilizing additional lignin from the cellulose through chlorination and oxidation. These include chlorine dioxide, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen perioxide, and oxygen.

Sodium Hydroxide, a strong alkali is used to extract the dissolved lignin from fibers surface. The bleaching agents and the sequence in which they are used depend on a number of factors, such as the relative cost of the bleaching chemicals, type and condition of the pulp.

Mechanical pulp bleaching varies from chemical pulp bleaching. Bleaching of mechanical pulp is designed to minimize the removal of the lignin that would reduce fiber yields.

Chemicals used for bleaching mechanical pulps selectively destroy coloring impurities but leave the lignin and cellulosic materials intact, These include sodium bisulfite, sodium or zinc hydrosulfite (no longer used in the United States), calcium or sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen or sodium peroxide, and the Sulfur Dioxide-Borol Process (a variation of the sodium hydrosulfite method).

Papermaking Procedure

Bleached or unbleached pulp may be further refined to cut the fibers and roughen the surface of the fibers to enhance formation and bonding of the fibers as they enter the paper machine.

Water is added to the pulp slurry to make a thin mixture normally containing less than 1 percent fiber. The dilute slurry is then cleaned in cyclone cleaners and screened in centrifugal screens before being fed into the ‘wet end’ of the paper-forming machine. The dilute stock passes through a head-box that distributes the fiber slurry uniformly over the width of the paper sheet to be formed.

AFT - Screening, Refining, Approach Flow Solutions

About: Devid - Head of Sales

Cras sit amet nibh libero, in gravida nulla. Nulla vel metus scelerisque ante sollicitudin. Cras purus odio, vestibulum in vulputate at, tempus viverra turpis. Fusce condimentum nunc ac nisi vulputate fringilla. Donec lacinia congue felis in faucibus.

Related Articles

articles about paper making

Nano science in Pulp and Paper

articles about paper making

ICT in terms of paper usage

articles about paper making

Energy Reduction

Top viewed articles.

articles about paper making

World of TISSUES

articles about paper making

Pilot Paper Machine

Publish your article.

Thank you for your interest in publishing article with Packaging-Labelling. Our client success team member will get in touch with you shortly to take this ahead.

you're here, check out our informative and insightful article. Happy Surfing!

Client Success Team (CRM),


Production of low cost paper from Pandanus utilis fibres as a substitution to wood

Sustainable Environment Research volume  29 , Article number:  20 ( 2019 ) Cite this article

9840 Accesses

5 Citations

1 Altmetric

Metrics details

Indigenous plants are widely abundant in Mauritius and if made proper use of, these renewable plants can contribute largely to the local economic sector. This paper assesses the suitability of producing eco-friendly and biodegradable papers using low-cost raw materials by means of fibre from Pandanus utilis’ leaves commonly known as ‘Vacoas’. The leaves were used along with Arundo donax or wastepaper to manufacture composite paper samples in the ratios of 20:80, 40:60, 60:40, 80:20 and 100:0. Chemical pulping was done through Kraft process for a period of 1.5 h at a concentration of 14 wt% NaOH and 4 wt% Na 2 S at 90 ± 2.5 °C. The mean thickness of the papers was determined to be 0.261 ± 0.027 mm. It was found that the 100% Vacoas fibres had the highest absorbency rate of 1.8 ± 0.5 s followed by the composite A. donax and Vacoas fibre (1.8 ± 0.3 s). The most abrasion resistant paper which also demonstrated the highest burst index of 0.63 kPa m 2  g − 1 and tensile index 11.8 N m g − 1 was observed to be that of 100:0 Vacoas fibre paper requiring 35 turns to get abraded followed by the P. utilis and A. donax mix where the 80:20 fibre ratio revealed a high bursting index of 0.45 kPa m 2  g − 1 requiring 25 turns to get abraded while 40% P. utilis and 60% A. donax had a high tensile strength of 11.9 N m g − 1 . Vacoas to wastepaper mix ratios of 20:80 and 40:60 were found to have the highest mean recovery angles of 61.3 and 59.6°, respectively.


The manufacture of pulp and paper is primarily made from raw materials consisting of wood chips and recycled paper. The paper industry that utilizes wood as raw material has a significant contribution to deforestation leading to climate change, species loss, perturbation in water cycle, soil erosion only to mention a few [ 1 ]. There is a current increment in pulp and paper demand globally which has significantly contradicted the idea of the world going paperless [ 2 ]. Mauritius with a population of 1.263 million [ 3 ] has no paper and pulp production nor pulp and paper mills while imports account to 41 kt annually. The island has a net consumption of 40 kt of paper on an annual basis and the paper consumption per capita is 32 kg yr − 1 person − 1 [ 4 ] which is normally used from residential, commercial, institutional as well as industrial areas. Out of the 40 kt, only 5.8 t of the paper consumed were sent for recycling during the period 2013 to 2015 [ 4 , 5 ]. However, the world is currently witnessing a rising trend in retreating from the dependency of wood towards more sustainable raw materials such as non-wood fibrous plants due to environment consciousness [ 6 ]. Plant fibres classified as environmentally friendly material are a promising raw material rich in lignocellulose that can be employed in the paper and textile industries [ 7 , 8 ]. Plant fibres originate from a vast variety of sources and the most common plant fibres that exist in Mauritius are raffia palm, cotton, Mauritius hemp, kenaf, Vacoas and pineapple fibres. The Vacoas plant contributed in the development of the sugar sector in Mauritius since their leaves were previously being used to manufacture sugar bags. Today, the fresh Vacoas leaves have restricted functions in the production of baskets, yarns, ropes and souvenirs while the dry leaves are disposed of as agricultural wastes. The products manufactured from these fibres are found to be of high strength, lasting and have a high service life [ 9 ]. However, the practice of producing baskets and souvenirs are only done by a minority of craftpersons and these artisanal works do not create much profit [ 10 , 11 ]. Since the Vacoas plant is very common all around the island and they are currently being discarded as agro-wastes, it is a sensible idea to utilize these fibres as raw material for paper production while adopting green production methods. Also, the Mauritian economy is driven by textiles, sugar, tourism and financial services along with an inexistent pulp and paper industry, the latter could be a means of boosting the local economy and the sustainable production of paper from these plants would be a means of utilizing these agro-wastes and producing paper that consumes less water, energy and raw materials [ 4 , 6 , 11 ]. Hence, this paper aims to investigate the feasibility of fibre extraction from non-wood lignocellulosic fibres from Vacoas leaves and utilizing the transformed fibres in the production of eco-friendly and recyclable paper. It would case a significant reduction in farming costs, adverse impacts on the environment through fires, pollution, carbon footprint and diverting wastepaper from the Mare Chicose sanitary landfill by transferring them to waste recovery and recycling facilities [ 1 , 11 ].

Pandanus utilis fibre

The reproduction of the plant takes place by its seed which germinates in around 2–3 months [ 11 , 12 ]. The P. utilis tree is pyramidal and irregular in shape with the leaves being spirally arranged around the branches. Also, the plant has a mean height of 25 m and can extend up to 60 m with a spread of 4.5 m [ 13 ]. Fragrant flowers are formed by the male plants while the female plants bear green fruits hanging from cords which are 14 to 30 cm in length resembling pine cones or pineapples which turn yellow or orange when they become mature. The fruit being a starchy source of food with a dry and hard covering is edible but lacks flavour [ 9 , 11 , 12 , 14 ]. The P. utilis plants are very messy since the leaves fall constantly during the whole year and also the plants become denser over time with the leaves reaching the ground. Thus, frequent cuttings of the branches and leaves are required which could have otherwise been employed in the fibre industry. These leaves are biologically degraded and composted in forests but then in urban areas, they are still regarded as agricultural wastes that need to be discarded in landfills [ 10 , 11 ]. Also, the Vacoas leaf is normally not attacked by pests but it can be attacked and killed by viruses as well as fungi which cause diseases and yellow streaks on the leaves [ 13 , 14 ].

Materials and methods

Raw material preparation.

Collection of fresh leaves of P. utilis was made at Highlands (Fig.  1 ), Arundo donax stems and leaves at Souillac and recycled wastepaper at the University of Mauritius Press at Réduit in Mauritius from August to October 2017. The red spiny edges and mid rib of the Vacoas leaves were carefully removed in order to prevent injuries followed by washing and chopping into small pieces of around 1–2 cm. The samples were oven-dried at 60 °C for approximately 4 consecutive days till a constant weight was attained. After the drying process, the samples were stored in an air-tight plastic bag for further cooking and pulping processes.

figure 1

Collection of Vacoas leaves

Chemical pulping process

A white liquor was prepared from 14 wt% NaOH and 4 wt% Na 2 S in a bath ratio of 3:1. 40 g of sample was prepared for pulping process where P. utilis fibres were utilized in definite ratios of 20:80, 40:60, 60:40, 80:20 and 100:0 with either A. donax or wastepaper to produce composite paper sheets. The raw material was then submersed in the beaker containing the white liquor in a liquid to solid ratio of 17.5:1 and placed on a hot plate set on a range of 250–300 while the temperature was monitored at 90.0 ± 2.5 °C for a period of 1.5 h. After cooking and cooling, the black liquor subsequent to delignification was filtered and the solid brown residue retained. The latter was then washed meticulously under tap water for 45 min for the removal of the black liquor and hot water was added to increase the imbibition. The pH of the clear liquid obtained after washing was measured to ensure that the pH was around 7. The washed pulp was then mechanically beaten and manually inspected as well as screened to remove any dirt, undigested fibres and knots present. The resulting pulp was oven-dried at 60 °C for a period of 24 h to obtain pulp having a dry mass ready for paper-making.

Paper manufacturing from Vacoas fibres

A pair of bolts and nuts was unscrewed in order to open the deckle (upper part of the paper making apparatus) and the latter was allowed to rest on the fixed hinges at the back. The mould was removed from the apparatus, washed with water in order to remove any pulp present from previous usage and it was replaced back. The mould was ensured to be at 180° to the horizontal by means of a spirit level and the voids present between the mould and the apparatus were filled with the aid of rubber strips to prevent the loss of pulp. The pair of bolts and nuts were then tightened by pliers in order to prevent leakages from the apparatus and water was allowed in the apparatus up to a height of 35 cm. The oven-dried pulp was then blended with water and introduced into the apparatus. The mixture was allowed to stand for approximately 12 min until all the pulp had settled down on the mould. Once settled, the water was drained leaving the pulp on the mould. The bolts and nuts were then unscrewed and the mould carefully lifted to be placed on a felt material (Fig.  2 ). The sheets were dewatered by means of sponges followed by a roller (couching) through gentle movements without applying too much pressure and the wet paper sheets were eventually allowed to dry at ambient conditions for a period of approximately 48 h and the dry ironed sheets were conditioned for physical and mechanical tests (Figs.  3 and 4 ).

figure 2

Lifting of mould by a blunt putty knife and placed on felt material

figure 3

Sheet of paper left to dry at ambient conditions and dry ironed sheets of paper

figure 4

Paper samples

Determination of mass of pulp for paper-making (Tappi T205 Sp-12)

A grammage of 60 g m − 2 on an oven-dried basis of sample was considered for the determination of the physical properties of the paper sheets. The total mass of pulp to be used for the sheet preparation was determined from specific calculations. The area of mould screen was calculated by multiplying 0.33 m by 0.27 m to give 0.0891 m 2 . Thereafter, the amount of oven-dried pulp required was calculated by multiplying the grammage value of 60 by the area (0.0891 m 2 ) to give 5.35 g. Since, there were gaps between the mould and the paper-making apparatus, a total mass of 8.0 g was considered to cater for the pulp losses.

Physical analysis

Grammage determination (tappi t410 om-08).

The grammage of a paper depends upon the size as well as the mass of the sheet. Different grammages of paper have different functions in the market such that paper having a small mass per unit area can be used as wrapping paper in the food industry or as toilet paper while those having a larger mass per unit area can be used as posters or cardboards [ 15 ]. Samples were cut in dimensions of 5 × 5 cm from different sheets of paper followed by weighing on an electronic weighing balance. The grammage was then determined as follows:

where, g is the sheet grammage in g m − 2 , m is the mass of paper sample in g, A is the paper sample area in m 2 , and n is the number of samples.

Thickness determination (Tappi T551 PM-12)

In order to determine the thickness of the paper specimen more accurately without compressing the paper surface, a Shirley thickness tester was utilised. Hence, the tester was calibrated via a metric load to eliminate the occurrence of any zero error and the paper sample was inserted under a small pressure foot measuring 50 cm 2 whereby loads of 10, 30, 50, 100, 300, 500, 1000, 1000, 1000 and 1000 g were cumulatively added while allowing a stabilization time of 60 s between the addition of each load before recording the thickness. Consequently, a compression curve was plotted for each cumulative load against their resulting respective thicknesses. The weights were then removed in the reverse order and a recovery curve (cumulative weight against thickness) was plotted. The point of intersection of these two curves gave the real thickness of the paper.

Chemical analysis

Moisture content (tappi t550 om-8).

Sampling and quartering were done on the samples and placed on aluminium plates prior to weighing on an electronic balance. The samples were then oven-dried at 60 °C for a period of four consecutive days till a constant weight was obtained and the values were recorded. The moisture % was calculated as follows:

where, W1 is the initial wet weight of the sample in grams and W2 is the final dried weight of sample in grams.

Lignin content and kappa number (Tappi T 236)

The P. utilis and A. donax samples were pulverised and screened through a 0.5 mm sieve. 0.5 g of the pulverised sample was then mixed with approximately 600 mL of distilled water and allowed in a mixture of 75 mL H 2 SO 4 and 75 mL KMnO 4 continuously stirred on a magnetic stirrer for approximately 10 min followed by the addition of 15 mL KI to the mixture. Furthermore, 25 mL of the mixture was pipetted to be titrated against Na 2 S 2 O 3 until a pale colour was observed. Hereafter, 2 drops of starch indicator were added to the mixture and titrated till a colourless solution was observed.

The lignin content and Kappa number were calculated using the following formulas:

where, P – No is the Permanganate Number, K-No is the Kappa Number, v is the titre value in mL, f is the correction factor, 0.5 and w is the weight of sample mixed with distilled water in g.

Mechanical analysis

Absorbency rate (tappi t831 om-93).

The water absorbency experiment is carried out in order to determine the time taken in seconds for a drop of water to get entirely absorbed into a paper specimen and damp the bottom side of the sample when placed on the surface of the paper with the aid of a 10 μL micropipette inclined at an angle of 30° to the horizontal [ 16 ]. The absorbency rate is a measure of the suitability and quality of wrapping, packaging, tissue and towel paper for sorbing processes [ 17 ].

Tensile index (T 494 om-01 N)

The ultimate tensile force necessitated by the test strip to fracture into 2 pieces due to excessive stress under specified test conditions is termed as tensile strength. The latter is a measure of the strength resulting from the fibre strength, length as well as the linkage between the fibres in the framework [ 18 , 19 ]. 4 test samples measuring 25.0 ± 1 mm wide and 180 ± 5 mm long were cut for each composite type and a testometric material testing machine was used to evaluate the tensile properties such as force at break, young modulus, percentage strain at break and peak, time to failure and peak which are instrumental for the determination of the tensile index (N m g − 1 ). A tensile load of 0.01 kN was used along with a fixed jaw separation rate at 5 mm min − 1 and thickness of 0.4 ± 0.1 mm.

The Tensile Index, I was determined using the following equation:

where, F is the mean tensile force at break in kN, w is the width of the sample in metres and g is the grammage of the sample in g m − 2 .

Bursting strength and bursting index (TAPPI T403 OM-15)

Bursting strength of paper specimens is a property directly related to the tensile strength as well as stretching capacity of that particular sample. It is dependent on several additional properties such as the percentage of fibres in the paper sheet, the method of fibre extraction and preparation, mechanical refining time, length and size of fibres as well as the utilization of sizing and additives. The bursting test measures the strength of the paper by subjecting the sample to an increasing pressure until the paper sample ruptures. The longer the time the sample takes to rupture and the greater the pressure it takes to burst the sample, the more stress resistant the paper specimen is [ 18 , 20 ]. The Burst Index, B is calculated by the following equation:

where, p is the mean bursting strength in kPa.

Abrasion resistance (TAPPI T476 om-11)

Abrasion resistance test is carried out by rubbing the paper specimens under test against another surface which is usually the same kind of paper or emery grade zero polishing paper in order to determine the lifetime of the paper when the latter is predominantly being subjected to friction. The weighed samples were each placed in a sample holder along with a sponge backing due to the grammage being smaller than 500 g m − 2 and a Eureka abrasion tester was used along with 200 g load cells to determine the abrasion resistance and loss of the sample.

Crease recovery (TAPPI T511 OM-02)

Crease is a crinkle or fold brought involuntarily on a sheet of paper when being handled and crease recovery is the capacity of that paper to return to its former point or restore its original shape just after being subjected to creasing for a definite period of time. A good crease resistance paper will have a full angle recovery and will be able to resist any rupture at folds and fold lines. In order to perform the crease recovery angle test, 10 random paper samples from each of the different composites were conditioned and the tests were carried out at standard atmospheric conditions using a Eureka crease recovery tester.

Results and discussion

Physical testing, grammage determination.

Table  1 depicts the mean grammage for the different paper admixtures tested. As observed from the table, there are small deviations in the values of the grammage which have gone beyond the desired grammage of 60 g m − 2 . The slight differences may be due to the 33.1% excess pulp which had been taken during the paper making process in order to compensate for the losses in the apparatus.

Thickness determination

The thickness of the samples varying from 0.234 to 0.288 mm was observed to increase proportionally with grammage ranging from 59.1 to 62.5 g m − 2 . This might be due to the existence of more cellulosic fibre concentration in the sample per unit area. As observed on Fig. 5 a, the mean thickness of the 80% A. donax is the highest followed by the 60% A. donax . Overall, the A. donax and Vacoas fibre mix has a greater thickness than the wastepaper and Vacoas fibre mix owing to less losses and greater bonding in A. donax and Vacoas fibres mix as compared to wastepaper and Vacoas fibres mix or uneven surface of paper as a result of different fibre concentrations at the 5 various spots where the paper sample was tested.

figure 5

Physical, chemical and mechanical properties as a function of mass percentage of Vacoas fibres

Moisture content

The drought tolerant leaves of P. utilis (Vacoas) was found to have a moisture content of 51.7%. The moisture content of 39.0% obtained for the A. donax stems including the nodes and internodes was in the range of 36.1 to 42.0% as reported by [ 21 ]. The smallest moisture content observed was with wastepaper exhibiting 7.2% of moisture. However, as mentioned earlier the moisture contents for the different materials vary according to the maturity of the plant, climate, soil conditions, geographic location, variety as well as the agricultural practices. Cellulose being the major composition in the fibre has the ability of absorbing as well as releasing moisture whenever required depending on climatic conditions. Also, the moisture content of the fibre changes with temperature. An increase in moisture in the paper might cause curling, printing troubles and bad quality paper.

Lignin and kappa number

Kappa number is dependent upon the digestion technique, the constituents of the fibre as well as the method of delignification opted. It assesses the amount of lignin in the fibre, the bleachability of the resulting pulp as well as the quantity of reagents that would be required for chemical pulping. Softwoods tend to delignify at high Kappa number of approximately 90 while hardwoods defiberize at lower Kappa number around 30. Kappa numbers of 83.8 and 79.4 have been obtained for P. utilis and A. donax, respectively implying that the fibres can be further delignified by bleaching. Also, the lignin content of Vacoas fibres and the giant reed accounting to 13.0 and 12.3% respectively are considerably lower than that of softwoods which have a lignin content ranging from 26 to 34%. The lower lignin content of the fibres means that less energy is needed for pulping process and stronger intermolecular forces of attraction are formed in between the fibres which are responsible for good physical and mechanical properties of the final product [ 22 ].

Rate of absorbency

During this experiment, it was observed that different paper compositions absorb the same amount of water at different rates (Fig. 5 b). A lower water absorbency time was observed with composite ratios of A. donax and Vacoas fibres varying between 1.5 and 2.0 ± 0.5 s implying that they are most suitable to be used as tissue and towelling paper. A slight drop in absorbency time was observed for the composite paper consisting of 40% Vacoas fibre and 60% A. donax possibly due to the formation of an admixture constituting of a higher amount of lignin or hemicellulose and thus resulting in a higher rate of moisture absorption [ 23 , 24 ]. Moreover, an increasing ratio of Vacoas fibres in wastepaper admixtures proved to be more favourable regarding the absorbency time which may be explained by a decline in the hydrophilic property of the sample due to a decreasing amount of cellulose in the admixture. 100% Vacoas fibres have the highest absorbency rate of 1.8 ± 0.5 s due to greater intermolecular forces of attraction between the particles in the crystalline arrangement which aids in repelling water and thus reducing the water absorption rate [ 23 , 24 ].

Tensile strength and tensile index

As depicted on Fig. 5 c, an optimum tensile index of 12.0 N m g − 1 was obtained from paper manufactured from 100% Vacoas fibres which may be due to the availability of a higher amount of cellulose or presence of micro-fibrillar sized fibres in the framework [ 25 ] while a minimum tensile index of 0.2 N m g − 1 was observed with paper samples constituting of 20% Vacoas fibres and 80% A. donax . In addition, the tensile indexes for paper admixtures of A. donax and Vacoas fibres were observed to have a rising trend with increasing percentage of mass of Vacoas fibres specifying that Vacoas fibres and A. donax have a greater bonding and hence a higher stress-resistant paper is achieved when the percentage of Vacoas fibre is greater than that of A. donax in the pulp mix. As for the wastepaper and Vacoas fibre composite, the line peaked up at 6.5 N m g − 1 signifying that the incorporation of 40% of Vacoas fibres in the paper composite resulted in the strongest paper sample in the waste paper and Vacoas fibre mix.

Bursting strength and bursting index

A similar trend can be observed between the results (Table  2 ) obtained from the burst index (Fig. 5 d) test and the tensile strength test. The maximum burst index in kPa m 2  g − 1 obtained was from paper produced from 100% Vacoas fibres while the minimum burst index was observed with paper admixtures of 60% Vacoas fibres and 40% wastepaper. The high burst index discerned may be explained by a more effective distribution of fibres as well as greater intermolecular forces of attraction between the fibres in the framework [ 26 ]. Moreover, it can be discerned that with paper admixtures of A. donax and Vacoas fibres, an increase in the percentage by mass of Vacoas fibres led to a greater burst index specifying that Vacoas fibres form a greater bonding with A. donax than with wastepaper and increasing percentage of Vacoas fibres produce stronger paper sheets. The optimum burst index observed with wastepaper was that from admixtures of 60% wastepaper and 40% Vacoas fibres.

Abrasion resistance and abrasion loss

The data obtained for mean abrasion weight loss and abrasion resistance are shown in Fig. 5 e and f, respectively. As observed on Fig. 5 e, both paper admixtures showed a nearly similar trend where the number of turns the paper took to get abraded decreased with increasing percentage by mass of Vacoas fibres and then increased again with 80 and 100% by mass of Vacoas fibres. Paper samples produced from 100% Vacoas fibres requiring 35 turns to get abraded turned out to have the highest abrasion resistance property while sample admixtures of 60% Vacoas fibres and 40% wastepaper as well as admixtures of 40% A. donax and 60% Vacoas fibres proved to be the least abrasion resistant requiring only 16 and 13 turns respectively to get abraded. The low abrasive property of the fibres achieved by 100% Vacoas fibre paper may be explained by a better arrangement and linkage of the fibres to each other as well as the presence of microfibrillar sized fibres in a strong network [ 27 ].

Figure 5 f shows that both wastepaper and A. donax mix again have a similar trend. Nonetheless, paper samples from admixtures of wastepaper and Vacoas fibres experienced a greater percentage weight loss as compared to paper produced from admixtures of A. donax and Vacoas fibres. The A. donax and Vacoas fibre mix having experienced between 13.5 to 21.6% weight loss has the highest abrasion resistance property indicating a better bonding between the fibres. Moreover, the optimum mix percentages obtained were that of 80% wastepaper, 20% A. donax and 100% Vacoas fibres due to their small percentage weight losses of 13.5, 14.8 and 17.0% respectively.

Crease recovery

In order to perform the crease recovery angle test, 10 random paper samples from each of the different composites were conditioned and the tests were carried out at standard atmospheric conditions. The mean angles obtained by each paper composite are shown in Fig. 5 g.

It can be observed that paper produced from admixtures of A. donax and Vacoas fibres have lower recovery angles than paper made from admixtures of wastepaper and Vacoas fibres. Moreover, both mixes have a declining recovery angle with increasing percentage of Vacoas fibres. However, the mean angle recoveries of all the paper samples are higher than that of a normal A4 paper which is 25°. The paper specimen having the highest mean recovery angle was found to be the one constituting of 20% Vacoas fibres and 80% wastepaper (61.3°) followed by paper specimen comprising of 40% Vacoas fibres and 60% wastepaper (59.6°). The paper sample with admixtures of 80% Vacoas fibre and 20% A. donax as well as the 100% Vacoas fibre paper were found to have the smallest recovery angle of 38.5 and 39.6° respectively. Hence, the paper specimens depicting a high recovery angle such as admixtures of wastepaper and Vacoas fibres can be used as writing materials while those having a lower recovery angle can be used as wrapping paper.


The study demonstrated that fibre extraction from non-wood lignocellulosic feedstocks such as from Vacoas leaves and utilizing the transformed fibres in the production of an eco-friendly, low-cost, printable and writable paper is a feasible comeback to the P. utilis leaves which are usually left to degrade on the ground and disposed of as agricultural wastes to end up in the landfill. Furthermore, satisfactory experimental results were observed with the different paper admixtures even though no binding agent was used as glue to aid the bonding process. Nonetheless, there are several challenges that need to be tackled such as the cost of transportation of the agricultural residues to the paper mill as well as water minimisation. The tensile, burst index and abrasion resistance tests revealed that the A. donax and Vacoas fibre pulp mix had a better compatibility in terms of the strength characteristics of the paper due to the higher bonding capacity of these 2 specific admixtures. Nonetheless, 100% Vacoas fibre paper depicted the most favourable results with the highest absorbency rate of 1.8 ± 0.5 s, highest bursting index of 0.63 kPa m 2  g − 1 with an optimum tensile index of 12.0 N m g − 1 requiring 35 turns to get abraded. The mean thickness of all the paper specimens tested varied between 0.234 to 0.288 mm which depicted a rising trend with grammage varying between 59.1 to 62.5 g m − 2 . The bulk density of the paper samples ranged between 217 to 252 kg m − 3 . In addition, the paper specimens having the highest mean recovery angle being suitable for writing materials were found to be the one constituting of 20% Vacoas fibres and 80% wastepaper (61.3°) followed by paper specimens comprising of 40% Vacoas fibres and 60% wastepaper (59.6°). The sustainable production and consumption of paper made from non-wood fibres has an upper hand on deforestation minimisation along with a reduced impact on the ecological balance. Since Mauritius has no existent pulp industry, the production of paper from agro-wastes using less water, energy and raw materials could be a means of boosting the local economy. Also, the raw materials are readily available and a low expertise is required in this particular process. Hence, it can be concluded that low cost non-wood paper can be manufactured from Vacoas fibres that meets the standard for paper.

Okoro M. Environmental impact analysis of pulp and paper production. Munich: GRIN Verlag; 2012.

Google Scholar  

SM. Mauritius in Figures. Port Louis: Statistics Mauritius; 2004-2016.

TWB. Mauritius Population. Washington, DC: The World Bank; 2017.

MCCI. DOE Manufacturing–What Strategy for a New Generation of Growth. Port Louis: Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry; 2012.

CJCO. Sustainability Report. Port Louis: Currimjee Jeewanjee & Co Ltd; 2015.

Bowyer J, Howe J, Pepke E, Bratkovich S, Frank M, Fernholz K. Tree-free Paper: A Path to Saving Trees and Forests? Minneapolis: Dovetail Partners Inc; 2014.

Wayman M. Part II: technical information on raw materials and pulp and paper manufacture. In: Wayman M, editor. Guide for planning pulp and paper enterprises. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations; 1973. p. 219–310.

Chen H. Biotechnology of lignocellulose: theory and practice. Dordrecht: Springer; 2014.

Book   Google Scholar  

Brink M, Achigan-Dako EG. Plant resources of tropical Africa 16. Fibres. Wageningen: PROTA Foundation; 2012.

Soocheta AV, Teli M, Rosunee S. Extraction of ‘Pandanus utilis’ leaf fibre and its potential for eco friendly product development. In: Sustainable Innovation 2013. Epsom; 2013 Nov 4–5.

Soocheta AV. Investigation of extraction, processing and potential for product development of ‘ Pandanus utilis ’ leaf fibre [Ph.D. Dissertation]. Moka (Mauritius): University of Mauritius; 2014.

DT. Plant lists. Desert Tropicals; 2007.

Gilman EF, Watson DG. Pandanus utilis : Screw-pine. Fact sheet ST430. Gainesville: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida; 1994.

Galea P. The aloe fibre industry. In: Macmillan A, editor. Mauritius illustrated: historical and descriptive, commercial and industrial facts, figures and resources. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services; 2000. p. 240–4.

Gulsoy SK, Simsir S. The effect of hand sheet grammage on strength properties of test liner papers. J Bartin Fac Forest. 2017;19:117–22.

Mahale S, Goswami-Giri AS. Environmental friendly approach in paper making using natural organic waste. Chem Sci Rev Lett. 2015;4:489–93.

SP. Water Absorbency. Surrey: Smithers Pira; 2017.

Deng SQ, Ye L, Mai YW, Liu HY. Evaluation of fibre tensile strength and fibre/matrix adhesion using single fibre fragmentation tests. Compos Part A-Appl S. 1998;29:423–34.

Article   Google Scholar  

Roylance D. Uniaxial mechanical response. Mechanical properties of materials. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology; 2008.

Meredith R. Properties of textile materials. I—tensile strength, breaking extension and stress-strain relations of fibres. J Text Inst Proc. 1952;43:755–64.

ECN.TNO. Phyllis 2. Database for biomass and waste: Arundo donax (giant reed) (#1992). Hague: ECN.TNO; 2001.

Klash A, Ncube E, du Toit B, Meincken M. Determination of the cellulose and lignin content on wood fibre surfaces of eucalypts as a function of genotype and site. Eur J Forest Res. 2010;129:741–8.

Sibaly S, Jeetah P. Production of paper from pineapple leaves. J Environ Chem Eng. 2017;5:5978–86.

Dwan A. Paper complexity and the interpretation of conservation research. J Am Inst Conserv. 1987;26:1–17.

Khalil HPSA, Alwani MS, Omar AKM. Chemical composition, anatomy, lignin distribution, and cell wall structure of Malaysian plant waste fibers. Bioresources. 2006;1:220–32.

Suhr M, Klein G, Kourti I, Gonzalo MR, Santonja GG, Roudier S, et al. Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document for the Production of Pulp, Paper and Board. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union; 2015.

Müssig J, Fischer H, Graupner N, Drieling A. Testing methods for measuring physical and mechanical fibre properties (plant and animal fibres). In: Müssig J, editor. Industrial applications of natural fibres: structure, properties and technical applications. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons; 2010.

Chapter   Google Scholar  

Download references

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Mauritius, Reduit, 80837, Mauritius

Nausheen Jaffur & Pratima Jeetah

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar


NJ carried out the production of paper samples and drafted the manuscript. PJ participated in the design of the study, coordinated the study and did the sequence alignment. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pratima Jeetah .

Ethics declarations

Competing interests.

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ ) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article.

Jaffur, N., Jeetah, P. Production of low cost paper from Pandanus utilis fibres as a substitution to wood. Sustain Environ Res 29 , 20 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42834-019-0023-6

Download citation

Received : 04 September 2018

Accepted : 11 July 2019

Published : 31 July 2019

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s42834-019-0023-6

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

Sustainable Environment Research

ISSN: 2468-2039

articles about paper making

JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser.

From the Woods: Paper!

Girl in forest throws paper airplane

Girl in forest throws paper airplane

Paper! It's everywhere. It's all around us. No other manufactured material is so widely available, versatile, and so important to our everyday existence. We read books. We print out Web pages and computer files. We dry our hands on paper towels. We wrap gifts. We take notes. These are just a few of the ways we use paper. You may have heard that paper comes from trees, but that's just part of the story.

Historical Wrap


The ancient Egyptians developed a paperlike substance nearly 4,000 years ago. By weaving together the reeds of papyrus plants into mats, and then pounding them, they produced a thin, tough sheet for writing on. This product was called papyrus, and our English word "paper" has its origin in that Egyptian name. Before papyrus, people used clay tablets, stones, wooden boards, cloths, animal skins, metal tablets, and even leaves to write on.

The Chinese invented the first true paper about 2,000 years ago. Their paper was made from a watery paste of ground-up mulberry bark, hemp, and cloth rags. They pressed this paste to remove the water, then sun-dried the resulting mat of compacted fibers to make a sheet of paper. It wasn't until an invading army captured a Chinese paper mill 600 years later that the papermaking process was carried west to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

For many years throughout the Western world, paper was only made from discarded rags and clothing. Cotton and linen fibers produced a fine, strong paper, and the use of other plant fibers for papermaking was forgotten during the Dark Ages. However, paper was always in scarce supply due to the constant shortage of used cloth. The first paper mill in America, established outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1680, also used old rags to produce paper. By 1802, there were nearly 200 such mills in the United States.


During the mid-1800s, European papermakers rediscovered the use of tree fibers for papermaking. Also during this time, various types of machinery and processes were developed in Europe and America for grinding or chemically breaking down wood and producing paper. Wood was in abundant supply, and the use of wood rather than rags made it much cheaper and easier to make paper. This was the beginning of the mass-produced paper industry, an industry that played an important part in the development of our country and the world, and still does!

Simply Pulp


Today, almost all paper is made from wood pulp; however, some specialty papers are still produced using cotton and linen fibers (for printing things like money and maps). But what exactly is wood pulp? When wood is broken down, either mechanically or chemically, two main things are left: fibers (composed mostly of two kinds of cellulose) and lignin. The fibers are actually the remains of the tree's cells. They are small, about 1/8 of an inch in length and 1/150 of an inch in width (about 1/10 the thickness of a human hair). When a piece of paper is torn, you can see tiny wood fibers along the ripped edge. Lignin is the glue, or cement, that held the fibers in place in the wood. Wood pulp is nothing more than a huge quantity of individual wood fibers with the lignin removed. The natural color of wood pulp ranges from dark brown to light gray.


Before wood pulp is produced from a tree, several steps must be taken. First, trees are cut and transported to a paper mill. Most of the trees used for papermaking in Pennsylvania are smaller trees that have little potential for making lumber. At the mill, the bark is removed from the trees. Lastly, the fibers are either mechanically or chemically extracted from the wood and then separated from the lignin.

In the mechanical method, grindstones tear wood fibers apart in water, or the trees are chipped up into small pieces first and then ground down to fibers. However, chemical methods are more widely used and are more energy-efficient. The chemical methods involve cooking wood chips in large tanks. These tanks, called digesters, are similar to pressure cookers. Various chemicals, called the cooking liquor, help break down wood chips into a mushy mass of fibers. Regardless of the method used to produce pulp, it is always washed and screened (to remove impurities) before it becomes paper.

Wood pulp is also made from chipped sawmill waste wood or from used paper. The recycling process for used paper is similar to making "virgin" pulp directly from wood. In recycling, the wood fibers in the paper must be separated again or "repulped" in water. It is also necessary to remove the chemicals, such as adhesives and ink, on used paper. The recycling process shortens the length of the individual fibers, so wood fibers can only be recycled several times before they are too short for making paper. That's why it is necessary to mix new pulp with recycled pulp to make paper products.


Modern Papermaking

The papermaking process begins by washing, bleaching (to whiten or "brighten" if necessary), and beating (to soften) wood pulp. Starches, colors, and other chemicals added at this early stage create different types of paper. After mixing the pulp and chemicals with water, this "slush" moves into large papermaking machines. Here, the slush is pumped evenly onto a fast-moving (58 feet per second), fine-meshed screen. As water drains off, the slush moves along on the screen and then through a series of heated cylinders to press, dry, and smooth it, ensuring uniform thickness. Rolls of paper are the finished product. They are usually rewound and cut into smaller rolls or packs, then shipped to printers and manufacturing plants to become products. There are thousands of different paper products--everything from coffee filters to facial tissues and magazines. Throughout the papermaking process, tests ensure paper quality. If a roll of paper does not meet quality standards for the desired finished product, it is recycled back into the process.

Here's how paper is made...


That's the whole story of papermaking. Paper is material that's similar to the air we breathe. It's all around us, we use it continuously, and we yet we never think about it! Can you imagine a world without paper?

Prepared by Sanford S. Smith, natural resources and youth extension specialist; James C. Finley, associate professor of forestry; and Lee R. Stover, wood products extension specialist, Penn State School of Forest Resources.

Appreciation to Glatfelter, Weyerhaeuser, and Comic Swap, Inc. for their assistance in the production of this publication. This publication was produced with support from the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Sanford S. Smith, Ph.D.

You may also be interested in ...

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

Using Your Own Lumber For Building Projects

Forest Taxation: Forest Finance and Timber Tax Education

Forest Taxation: Forest Finance and Timber Tax Education

Valuing Standing Timber

Valuing Standing Timber

Maple Syrup Terminology

Maple Syrup Terminology

Be Safe Around Wooden Pallets!

Be Safe Around Wooden Pallets!

Maple Syrup Production for the Beginner

Maple Syrup Production for the Beginner

Calculating the Green Weight of Wood Species

Calculating the Green Weight of Wood Species

Why Does Lumber Need to be Dried?

Why Does Lumber Need to be Dried?

From the Woods: American Chestnut

From the Woods: American Chestnut

Return bloom of 8th leaf Honeycrisp/M.26 apple trees at FREC, May 1, 2015. Row on the left received no return bloom sprays. Row on the right received 3 “sides” of RB sprays - one spray of NAA and 2 sprays of ethephon - June/July, 2014.

Apple PGRs - Promoting Return Bloom

Personalize your experience with penn state extension and stay informed of the latest in agriculture..

Pulp, paper, and packaging in the next decade: Transformational change

From what you read in the press and hear on the street, you might be excused for believing the paper and forest-products industry is disappearing fast in the wake of digitization. The year 2015 saw worldwide demand for graphic paper decline for the first time ever, and the fall in demand for these products in North America and Europe over the past five years has been more pronounced than even the most pessimistic forecasts.

But the paper and forest-products industry as a whole is growing, albeit at a slower pace than before, as other products are filling the gap left by the shrinking graphic-paper 1 The graphic-paper segment includes newsprint, printing, and writing papers. market (Exhibit 1). Packaging is growing all over the world, along with tissue papers, and pulp for hygiene products. Although a relatively small market as yet, pulp for textile applications is growing. And a broad search for new applications and uses for wood and its components is taking place in numerous labs and development centers. The paper and forest-products industry is not disappearing—far from it. But it is changing, morphing, and developing. We would argue that the industry is going through the most substantial transformation it has seen in many decades.

In this article, we outline the changes we see happening across the industry and identify the challenges CEOs and their leadership teams will need to manage over the next decade.

Changing industry structure

The structure of the industry landscape is changing. The changes are not dramatic individually, but the accumulation of changes over the long term has now reached a point where they are making a difference.

Consolidation has been a major factor in many segments of the industry. The big have become bigger in their chosen areas of focus. At the aggregate level, the world’s largest paper and forest-products companies have not grown much, if at all, and several of them have reduced in size. What they have done is focus their efforts on fewer segments. As a result, concentration levels in specific segments have generally, if not universally, increased (Exhibit 2). In some segments such as North American containerboard and coated fine paper, ownership concentration as defined by traditional approaches to drawing segment boundaries may be reaching levels where it would be difficult for companies to find further acquisition opportunities that could be approved by competition authorities.

A grouping of companies has emerged that is not identical to, but partly overlaps with, the group of largest companies, and is drawn from various geographies and market segments. Companies in this group have positioned themselves for further growth through high margins and low debt (Exhibit 3). Our analysis suggests the financial resources available to some members of this group for strategic capital expenditure could be five to ten times greater than other top players in the industry. This potentially represents a powerful force for change in the industry, and over the next few years it will be interesting to see how these companies choose to spend their resources. Some of these companies with large war chests and sizable annual cash flows deployable for strategic capex might even face a challenge to find opportunities on a scale that matches these resources.

Where there are leaders, there are also laggards. We believe the pronounced differences in performance among companies across the industry continues to pique the interest of investors and private-equity players in an industry that is already undergoing substantial restructuring and M&A.

Changing market segments

Whether companies are well positioned for further growth or still needing to earn the right to grow, they can expect demand to grow for paper and board products over the next decade. The graphic-paper market will continue to face declining demand worldwide, and our research has yet to find credible arguments for a specific floor for future demand. But this decline should be balanced by the increase in demand for packaging—industrial as well as consumer—and tissue products. All in all, demand for fiber-based products is set to increase globally, with some segments growing faster than others (Exhibit 4).

That picture is not without its uncertainties. One hazy spot in the demand skies might be concerns over how fast demand will grow in China. Expectations of growth from only a few years ago have proved a bit too optimistic, not only in graphic papers but also in tissue papers and packaging. And recently, as a result of turmoil in the market for recycled fiber, Chinese users of corrugated packaging have reduced their consumption, through weight reductions and use of reusable plastic boxes. Given China’s weight in the global paper and board market, even relatively modest changes can have significant impact.

How these demand trends will translate into industry profitability will of course be heavily influenced by the industry’s supply actions. Supply movements are notoriously difficult to forecast more than a few years out, but we believe the following observations are relevant to this discussion.

Would you like to learn more about our Paper & Forest Products Practice ?

But even with a readjustment of the market, the midterm prospects are likely to be in favor of the producers, with little new capacity until 2021–22 and some softwood capacity that is likely to be converted to other products, such as pulp for textile applications. For softwood particularly, challenges in expanding the forest supply are constraining new supply. Also, the fact that much of the industry’s softwood-production assets are aging and need complete renewal or substantial upgrades could further contribute to scarcity, especially since the scale of the investments required is a potential roadblock to them being made.

The lingering question is whether such supply-side challenges can trigger an accelerated development of applications that are less dependent on wood-fiber pulp.

Challenges for the next decade

In such an environment, what are the key challenges senior executives will need to address? What are the key battles they will have to fight? The paper and forest-products industry is often labelled a “traditional” industry. Yet given the confluence of technological changes, demographic changes, and resource concerns that we anticipate over the next decade, we believe the industry will have to embrace change that is, in character, as well as pace, vastly different from what we have seen before—and anything but traditional. This will pose significant challenges for CEOs regarding how they manage their companies.

We argue that there are three broad themes that paper and forest-products CEOs will have to address through 2020 and beyond:

Finding the next level of cost optimization

Managing short-to-medium-term ‘grade turbulence’

The past couple of years have seen increased instability in forest-products segments. The negative impact of digital communications on graphic paper has led many companies to steer away from the segment and into higher-growth areas, either through conversion of machines or through redirection of investment funds. This is leading to a higher level of uncertainty and overcapacity in, for example, packaging grades. The instability has also been exacerbated by the capacity additions that primarily Asian producers have made despite the slowing demand growth in that region.

A case in point is virgin-fiber cartonboard. Several producers in Europe have converted machines away from graphic paper and into this segment, creating further oversupply in Europe and leading producers to redouble their efforts to sell to export markets. This is happening just as increasing capacity in Asia, and particularly in China, looks set to displace imports that have traditionally come into the region, mainly from Europe and North America. Some of the new Asian capacity could even find its way into export markets.

This development is likely to persist for several years until markets again find more of an equilibrium, and it poses challenging questions for companies. What, if any, safe havens exist for my products? How do I protect home-market volumes? How do I protect my export volumes? What is the appropriate pricing strategy to use in the different regions?

For CEOs looking to move into a new market segment, it will be equally important to make the right assessment of which segments to enter as they shift their footing. Where will I be the most competitive? How will my entry change market dynamics, and will this matter to me?

On the raw-materials (fiber) side, we have already described the past couple of years’ turbulence in virgin pulp. If that might seem to trend toward stabilization, the situation in recycled fibers is still very uncertain. As China, and gradually other Asian countries, have increasingly restricted the import of recovered fiber (as well as plastics and other recovered materials), the dynamics have shifted. While prices of old corrugated containers (OCC) and other papers for recycling have plummeted in North America and Europe, prices of domestic Chinese OCC have increased drastically, challenging both the price and availability of recycled-based corrugated board. In response, companies have set up capacity to produce recycled-fiber pulp to export to China, while the country is jacking up its import of containerboard for corrugated packaging, as well as virgin fiber for strengthening purposes.

This of course affects how companies, in any country, think about their fiber-supply strategies as well as their product focus.

Even though we see new ways of creating value in the forest-products industry, low cost is, and will remain, a critical factor for high financial performance. One of the characteristics shared by companies with high margins and high returns is that they have access to low-cost raw materials, primarily fiber. This will continue to be a high-priority area, albeit with some twists compared with today.

Beyond the price increases of the past couple of years, fresh fiber is facing other, more long-term, cost issues. It is unclear whether plantation land in the southern hemisphere (primarily for short-fiber wood) will continue to be available at current low prices. And as companies go to more remote areas to acquire inexpensive land, such as in Brazil, their infrastructure and logistics costs increase. Will higher productivity and yield allow the global industry to add ever more low-cost capacity, or are we going to see a gradual increase in raw-material costs? For long-fiber products, the difficulties to expand long-fiber pulp capacity will make such assets very valuable over the next several years. But at what point will development of the material properties of short-fiber pulps make them rival more expensive long-fiber pulps in a number of major applications?

Operating costs for paper and board production are another area where companies need to get a tighter grip. Despite the fact that this area receives continual focus from management, our experience suggests there is still significant potential for cost reduction by using conventional approaches to work smarter and reduce waste in the production chain. This is particularly the case in areas that are less the focus of management attention, such as converting.

Many companies need to go beyond the conventional approaches to a next level of cost optimization—and many are ready to take this step. Most if not all paper and forest-products companies have completed large fixed-cost reduction programs. But there are often broader systemic issues that companies still need to address to be able to build sustainable operating models. In addition, in some segments many companies fail to reduce fixed costs as quickly as capacity disappears. By radically rethinking the operating model, companies can significantly shift their fixed-cost structure. By doing so, they can set a very different starting point in terms of flexibility and agility for when market volumes go through their normal cyclical swings.

The paper and forest-products industry has much to gain from embracing digital manufacturing : according to our estimates, this could reduce the total cost base of a producer by as much as 15 percent. New applications such as forestry monitoring using drones or remote mill automation present tremendous opportunities for increased efficiency and cost reductions. This is also the case in areas where big data can be applied, for instance, to solve variability and throughput-related issues in each step of the integrated production flows (Exhibit 5). The industry is well placed to join the digital revolution, as paper and pulp producers typically start from a strong position when it comes to collected or collectable data.

At the customer-facing end, the opportunity for innovation is huge and has the potential to transform existing industries and create new ones, especially in packaging segments. Digital developments will also help disrupt previous B2B2C value chains, paving the way for direct B2C relationships between paper-product makers and end consumers, for example, in tissue products.

The digital world is unfamiliar territory to most paper industry CEOs. To avoid too much doodling with small uncoordinated efforts, it is necessary to undertake a thought-through program, preferably guided by digitally experienced people either on the top-management team or board.

Finding value-creating growth roles for forest products

For any paper-company CEO who looks out ten years, the really different challenges will not be around cost containment. Global trends are moving the industry into a new landscape, where the challenges and opportunities for finding value-creating growth roles for forest products are changing radically. For example, the industry’s historic linear value chains are giving way to more collaborative structures with players in and outside the industry. We believe examples will include new producer and distributor collaborations; pulp players collaborating more innovatively with non-integrated players; paper and packaging companies collaborating more intensively with retailers, consumer-goods companies, and technological experts; and new products such as bio-refinery products requiring novel go-to-market partnerships. Here are some interesting examples of how these and other trends could play out.

Staying relevant (and increasing relevancy) in a fast-changing packaging world. The packaging market is multifaceted and continuously morphing. Digital developments influence it both by stimulating demand for packaging used in e-commerce and by enabling the integration into packaging of sensors and other technology. E-commerce has highlighted new packaging topics such as improved product safety, the “un-boxing” experience, counterfeiting measures, optimization for last-mile delivery , and a growing interest—at least from the large e-commerce-based retailers—in the possibility of merging primary and secondary packaging. At the same time, the packaging industry has to deal with increasing pressures around cost, resource conservancy, and sustainability. That last topic has gained huge momentum in the past couple of years as concerns over plastic waste have added to the concern over CO 2 emissions from fossil-based packaging materials. Consumer-goods companies, retailers, packagers, and policy makers alike are now exploring a wide range of possible solutions for what tomorrow’s packaging will look like.

The opportunity for forest-products companies to develop a differentiated and distinct customer value proposition in this landscape has never been greater. Packaging-materials CEOs will have to address a number of choices and trade-offs as they seek the appropriate strategic posture. Should you be a pure upstream player or a packaging-solutions provider? Should you focus on fiber-based packaging only or providing multi-substrate solutions? Should you be at the forefront of technology integration and application development in packaging or focus on materials development?

To stay relevant, many companies in packaging are trying to move closer to the brand owner or end user. Only a few companies are positioned to successfully make this move, however, and even they should be cautious. We are already seeing brand owners and leading customers challenging the benefits of packaging companies coming with consumer-facing ideas such as complete packaging concepts. Some of these players would prefer packaging companies to focus instead on core competencies such as materials development or interfaces with other substrates such as plastics.

How the paper and forest-products industry thrives in the digital age

How the paper and forest-products industry thrives in the digital age

Finding the right path in next-generation bio-products. Wood is a biomaterial with exciting properties, from the log on down to fibers, micro- and nanofibers, and sugar molecules. A healthy niche industry making bio-products has existed for many years alongside large-volume pulp, paper, and board products. We are in the midst of an explosion of research activity to develop new bio-products, ranging from applications for nanofibers to composite materials and lignin-based carbon fiber. New processes  are being designed to extract hemicellulose as feedstock for sugars and chemical production while still keeping the cellulose parts of the wood chip for pulp products.

We believe wood-based products will find new ways to enlarge their footprint in a more sustainable global economy. But the challenges are legion, particularly for finding cost-effective production methods that can withstand competition not only from oil-based materials but also from other biomaterials. Finding the right balance between developing the “new” and safeguarding the “old” will be a crucial undertaking for executives running companies with access to fresh fiber.

Finding growth in adjacent areas. Over the past decade or two we have seen the larger forest-products companies performing a focus adjustment. Most companies have moved from being fairly broad conglomerates present in various forest-products segments to focusing on a few core businesses. To find value-creating growth in the next two decades, we expect companies to start broadening their corporate portfolio again, but broadening it around the core businesses they have been working on, so as to create differentiated customer value propositions. Finding value-creating adjacencies to the core business will be a challenging exercise in creativity and business acumen for executive teams.

Finding new value-creating growth for forest products will also put the spotlight on a number of functional executive topics. We believe the following will be most important.

Talent management: The different skills required over the next ten to 15 years, dictated by developments such as new business models in an online world, increased need for innovation and commercialization of products, and digitalization’s impact on everything from manufacturing processes to the content of work will put particular onus on the talent pool  of forest-products companies. Installing an executive team that is able to understand new demands across customer businesses, digital, bio-products that cater to completely different value chains, and cross-industry collaboration will be a major task for CEOs and boards.

One particular war-for-talent battle that can become a key differentiator is the content of work. Our research on the future of work  highlights that already today, around 60 percent of all tasks, that is, not entire jobs or roles but their components, can be automated. And looking to the coming ten to 15 years, more than 30 percent of physical and manual skills risk becoming obsolete while technological skills will continue to grow very quickly. This will provide a critical and likely success-defining reskilling challenge for companies in the industry.

We believe the paper and forest-products industry is moving into an interesting decade, one that will see nothing less than a transformation of large parts of the industry. There will be many barriers to overcome and metaphorical cliffs to fall off. But the companies that are able to navigate through successfully can look forward to an industry that has a new sense of purpose and an increasingly vital role to play.

This article was updated in August 2019; it was originally published in May 2017.

Stay current on your favorite topics

Peter Berg  is a director of knowledge in McKinsey’s Stockholm office, where Oskar Lingqvist  is a senior partner. Together they lead McKinsey’s global Paper & Forest Products Practice.

Explore a career with us

Related articles.

Winning with new models in packaging

Winning with new models in packaging

Precision forestry: A revolution in the woods

Precision forestry: A revolution in the woods

How the paper and forest-products industry thrives in the digital age

Formed from wood pulp or plant fiber, paper is chiefly used for written communication. The earliest paper was papyrus, made from reeds by the ancient Egyptians. Paper was made by the Chinese in the second century, probably by a Chinese court official named Cai Lun. His paper was made from such things as tree bark and old fish netting. Recognized almost immediately as a valuable secret, it was 500 years before the Japanese acquired knowledge of the method. Papermaking was known in the Islamic world from the end of the eighth century A.D.

Knowledge of papermaking eventually moved westward, and the first European paper mill was built at Jativa, in the province of Valencia, Spain, in about 1150. By the end of the 15th century, paper mills existed in Italy, France, Germany, and England, and by the end of the 16th century, paper was being made throughout Europe.

Paper, whether produced in the modern factory or by the most careful, delicate hand methods, is made up of connected fibers. The fibers can come from a number of sources including cloth rags, cellulose fibers from plants, and, most notably, trees. The use of cloth in the process has always produced high-quality paper. Today, a large proportion of cotton and linen fibers in the mix create many excellent papers for special uses, from wedding invitation paper stock to special paper for pen and ink drawings.

The method of making paper is essentially a simple one—mix up vegetable fibers, and cook them in hot water until the fibers are soft but not dissolved. The hot water also contains a base chemical such as lye, which softens the fibers as they are cooking. Then, pass a screen-like material through the mixture, let the water drip off and/or evaporate, and then squeeze or blot out additional water. A layer of paper is left behind. Essential to the process are the fibers, which are never totally destroyed, and, when mixed and softened, form an interlaced pattern within the paper itself. Modern papermaking methods, although significantly more complicated than the older ways, are developmental improvements rather than entirely new methods of making paper.

Raw Materials

Probably half of the fiber used for paper today comes from wood that has been purposely harvested. The remaining material comes from wood fiber from sawmills, recycled newspaper, some vegetable matter, and recycled cloth. Coniferous trees, such as spruce and fir, used to be preferred for papermaking because the cellulose fibers in the pulp of these species are longer, therefore making for stronger paper. These trees are called "softwood" by the paper industry. Deciduous trees (leafy trees such as poplar and elm) are called "hardwood." Because of increasing demand for paper, and improvements in pulp processing technology, almost any species of tree can now be harvested for paper.

Cotton and linen rags are used in fine-grade papers such as letterhead and resume paper, and for bank notes and security certificates. The rags are usually cuttings and waste from textile and garment mills. The rags must be cut and cleaned, boiled, and beaten before they can be used by the paper mill.

Other materials used in paper manufacture include bleaches and dyes, fillers such as chalk, clay, or titanium oxide, and sizings such as rosin, gum, and starch.

The Manufacturing Process

Making pulp.

Pulp to paper

The paper then moves onto the press section of the machine, where it is pressed between rollers of wool felt. The paper then passes over a series of steam-heated cylinders to remove the remaining water. A large machine may have from 40 to 70 drying cylinders.

The paper may be further finished by passing through a vat of sizing material. It may also receive a coating, which is either brushed on or rolled on. Coating adds chemicals or pigments to the paper's surface, supplementing the sizings and fillers from earlier in the process. Fine clay is often used as a coating. The paper may next be supercalendered, that is, run through extremely smooth calendar rollers, for a final time. Then the paper is cut to the desired size.

Environmental Concerns

The number of trees and other vegetation cut down in order to make paper is enormous. Paper companies insist that they plant as many new trees as they cut down. Environmentalists contend that the new growth trees, so much younger and smaller than what was removed, cannot replace the value of older trees. Efforts to recycle used paper (especially newspapers) have been effective in at least partially mitigating the need for destruction of woodlands, and recycled paper is now an important ingredient in many types of paper production.

The chemicals used in paper manufacture, including dyes, inks, bleach, and sizing, can also be harmful to the environment when they are released into water supplies and nearby land after use. The industry has, sometimes with government prompting, cleared up a large amount of pollution, and federal requirements now demand pollutionfree paper production. The cost of such clean-up efforts is passed on to the consumer.

Where To Learn More

Biermann, Christopher J. Essentials of Pulping & Papermaking. Academic Press, 1993.

Bell, Lilian A. Plant Fibers for Papermaking. Liliaceae Press, 1992.

Ferguson, Kelly, ed. New Trends and Developments in Papermaking. Miller Freeman, Inc., 1994.

Munsell, Joel. Chronology and Process of Papermaking, 1876-1990. Albert Saifer Publisher, 1992.


deGrassi, Jennifer. "Primitive Papermaking." Schools Arts, February 1981, pp. 32-33.

Kleiner, Art. "Making Paper." Co-Evolution Quarterly, Winter 1980, p. 138.

Lamb, Lynette. "Tree-Free Paper." Utne Reader, March-April 1994, p. 40.

Saddington, Marrianne. "How to Make Homemade Paper." Mother Earth News, December-January 1993, p. 30+.

Sessions, Larry. "Making Paper." Family Explorer, October 1994.

— Lawrence H. Berlow

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:, other articles you might like:.


  1. Newspaper Article Examples

    articles about paper making

  2. Free Beginner Papermaking Articles

    articles about paper making

  3. How to Make Recycled Paper

    articles about paper making

  4. paper making articles

    articles about paper making

  5. 9+ Newspaper templates

    articles about paper making

  6. IELTS DATA Reading Test 17 The History of Papermaking

    articles about paper making


  1. Made of papers

  2. What would you use this paper for? #artist

  3. homemade colourful papers

  4. Which Paper Should I Use 1

  5. How paper is made

  6. how to write a paper #shortvideo


  1. What Is Paper Used For?

    Paper is used to make books, magazines and newspapers as well as paper money and photographic paper. It’s used to make writing paper, toys, boxes, wrapping paper, glassine, paper napkins, toilet paper, paper towels, facial tissue and paper ...

  2. What Was Article 48?

    Article 48 was an amendment to the Weimar Constitution that allowed the president of the Weimar Republic in Germany to work around Parliament to carry out duties that protected the people in times of crisis.

  3. What Is a “discussion Paper”?

    A “discussion paper” is a quantitative depiction of a specified topic, including but not limited to, a summary of applicable objections and appropriate conclusions drawn from the project.

  4. Papermaking

    papermaking, formation of a matted or felted sheet, usually of cellulose fibres, from water suspension on a wire screen. Paper is the basic material used

  5. Papermaking

    The papermaking process can be used to produce papers with high levels of inorganic fiber, metals, and synthetic fibers. Ceramic papers made in this way are

  6. Paper Making and Recycling

    Since chemical processing is gentle on the cellulose fiber, chemical pulps tend to have longer fibers and make strong paper such as printing and writing papers

  7. Articles on Pulp and Paper

    ARTICLES ; A collection of micrographs of papermaking raw materials by NTNU Norway ; Effect of Tree Growth Rate on Papermaking Fibre Properties by JY Zhu et.al.

  8. How is paper made?

    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

  9. How is Paper Made?

    Many papers include different types of recycled content. These include: Pre Consumer Waste (paper waste from the paper manufacturing and

  10. Pulp and Paper Manufacturing Process

    Paper is made from wood fibers, but rags, flax, cotton linters, and bagasse (sugar cane residues) are also used in some papers. Used paper is also recycled, and

  11. Production of low cost paper from Pandanus utilis fibres as a

    This paper assesses the suitability of producing eco-friendly and biodegradable papers using low-cost raw materials by means of fibre from

  12. From the Woods: Paper!

    The papermaking process begins by washing, bleaching (to whiten or "brighten" if necessary), and beating (to soften) wood pulp. Starches, colors

  13. The packaging, pulp and paper industry in the next decade

    Packaging is growing all over the world, along with tissue papers, and pulp for hygiene products. Although a relatively small market as yet

  14. How paper is made

    Coniferous trees, such as spruce and fir, used to be preferred for papermaking because the cellulose fibers in the pulp of these species are longer, therefore