Trees and Papermaking
The procedure of making paper is both complex and technical and the quality of the final product is often determined by the type of wood selected at the very start of the process.
The wood used in papermaking is often selected from off-cuts produced as a result of the furniture production process. But how can the type of tree determine the quality of paper and the way in which the paper product is created?
Discarded wood is converted into paper chips, which are pulped through.
The Kraft technique is a chemical process which is used to create the pulp required for papermaking. Using a combination of caustic soda and sodium sulphate, the wood chips are effectively ‘cooked’.
The type of wood will determine the final paper product; softwood will give paper its strength whereas hardwood will produce a dull looking paper which is ideal for items such as packaging and specialty papers.
An alternative process is to use Sulphite but this is a less common process and produces paper fibres which are softer and more flexible which makes the finished paper product ideal for printed photographs or blotting.
The third method used is known as a Chemical Thermo Mechanical Pulp process which grinds the wood chips using a rotating steel disc and static plate.
The wood is firstly softened using sodium sulphate and produces paper which is suitable for high volume printing such as newspapers, tissues and packaging.
Once the wood is pulped, it is then dried out and distributed to paper mills where it is pulped for a second time and combined with other elements such as colour to produce the required paper texture, appearance and quality.
Types of Tree
The type of tree can go some way to determining what type of paper is produced. Hardwood trees are typical of many common trees and shed their leaves in the autumn.
As the fibres in the hardwood tree are shorter they provide the bulk, smoothness and texture required to create the layers found within sheets of cardboard as well as printing and writing papers.
Hardwood trees include: Acacia, Aspen, Birch, Eucalyptus, Maple, Oak and Poplar.
On the other hand, softwood are trees that produce cones or needles such as the pine tree or they can be characterised by the appearance of scaly leaves. The fibres are long which allows them to produce papers where additional strength is required and typically found in packaging.
Softwood trees include: Fir, Pine, Spruce and the Western Hemlock
Paper suppliers such as ours have a wealth of knowledge in the types of trees used to create the required paper quality and we have years of expertise in the papermaking process.
Why not take a look at the paper products that we have available?