You never really think about how paper gets made, but it’s actually quite a process to get those white fibers in front of you. It all begins with a tree…
The debarking and chipping of the “roundwood” logs turn these stumps into inch-sized wafers. The wafers travel to the sorter next. The chips are sorted by wood type – hardwood, softwood, and aspen. These three different types of wood create different qualities of paper.
Then comes the chemical pulping. Eighty-three percent of pulp is generated by pressure-cooking the “log wafers” with water and chemicals. The remaining 17% of pulp creates a more purified type of paper. The pulp then continues on to the washing and screening process. This helps the fibers separate and become more pure. After that, the pulp is bleached. Recycled pulp can be added at this stage in the process.
To even the fibers out, the pulp is now beaten and refined. The fibers are chopped into smaller pieces, but if they get too short, they will be weeded out. This is an important step in the papermaking process because this is where the fibers become frayed. The fraying allows for easier fiber bonding.
The fibers now contain all of the necessary ingredients to make the paper that we see on a daily basis, but it’s still in liquid form due to the excessive amount of water. To rid the pulp of some of the water, it’s poured into the Fourdrinier wire. This wire catches the fibers, but permits a majority of the water fall from the pulp. This part of the process helps the fibers move into a more balanced formation. At this point, felt rollers pressure an even larger amount of liquid out of the pulp. The next rollers in line are the hot rollers. These remove water from the pulp by causing evaporation.
Paper that is being coated will then continue through a liquid-filled basin, go through a dryer, and finally be calendered. Both uncoated and coated paper is now ready to be rolled into “logs.” These logs are cut, rerolled to a smaller size, and shipped.