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The Paper Machine

Making paper is a complex process and while the process itself depends on the desired final product, the process is basically the same for all paper grades. The paper machines basically have seven sections:

  • Headbox -- This is a machine that distributes stock solution evenly onto the wire section.

  • Wire Section -- This section is really a woven plastic mesh conveyor belt up to 35 meters long and is as wide as the paper machine itself.

  • Press Section -- This section is made up of heavy cylinders which squeeze out most of the water that is in what is by this time almost a complete sheet of paper.

  • Dryer Section -- This section is a series of pairs of cylinders which are at high temperature(just above the temperature of boiling water) that the paper is woven around until it is dry.

  • Size Press(not shown in above diagram) -- This is a section that adds either a sizer(a solution of water and starch), for printing paper, or a coater, which is used to produce papers such as those found in magazines.

  • Calenders -- This section consists of hot, polished iron rollers mounted in vertical pairs which smooth the paper and give it its polished and glazed finish.

  • Reel Up -- This is sometimes called a parent reel and is where the paper is rolled up so that the paper can be cut into sheets.

  • The first step in producing paper involves the process of mixing water with wood and other fibers in a stock preparation system. The resultant mixture is then taken through a screening process, whereby the fibers are separated from the stock solution and are transported to the headbox, which in turn deposits the fiber matrix onto the wire section. Here, the excess water is drained away to be recycled and used later to produce more stock solution as well as to be used in the screening process. By the time the fiber matrix reaches the end of the wire section, it is paper, though it is of little use at this point, and it is passed on to the press section, where water is further pressed and sucked out. After this, the paper moves to the drier section of the machine, where it passes through a series of hot, steam heated cylinders, and is carried by synthetic drier fabrics which help to completely dry the paper. The paper exits the drier section and is then moved through to the calender, where it is given a smooth finish, and then, finally, the paper is reeled up, ready to be cut into seperate sheets.