How does a paper mill work

From rags to paper

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Life without paper? Hardly imaginable! Although we have already replaced paper with digital innovations in many areas, it is simply indispensable. Reason enough to take a closer look at papermaking.

Instead of writing a reminder on a sticky note, e-mails are replacing letters and e-readers for books: despite digital progress, the tried-and-tested paper simply cannot be put down. No wonder, since it has served mankind for almost 2,000 years. The invention of the first paper goes back to the year 105 AD. Cai Lun, an official at the imperial court of China, is considered to be the inventor of paper: it matted plant fibers and rags. Until the middle of the 19th century, textiles were mainly processed into paper, when wood replaced them as a raw material. Today, waste paper is the most important source of raw materials.

Thanks to the paper mill to book printing

Before it came to machine production, paper was elaborately scooped by hand in a vat. It was not until the 13th century that the paper production process was optimized in Europe with the introduction of water-powered paper mills and rag mills. The paper quality became more and more fine, the prices more and more affordable. These optimizations, in turn, contributed significantly to the success of modern letterpress printing, which Johannes Gutenberg invented in the 15th century.

Paper production today in 5 steps

  • First, wood is ground in the paper mill. With the help of chemical processes, pulp is obtained from the wood. Then, depending on the type of paper required, auxiliaries such as water, brighteners or dyes are added.
  • The mixture is poured onto a sieve and evenly distributed to form a solid fiber layer.
  • A papermaker coordinates the different screens, rollers and suction cups so that a paper with a uniform structure and surface is created that looks the same on both sides.
  • Then drying begins. For this, the paper web is pressed between rollers so that the water escapes. Then the paper in spe runs over warm cylinders and the remaining water evaporates.
  • The dried paper is finally smoothed in a calender. Finally, starch is applied to the surface in a size press and, if necessary, further finishing techniques are used.

Different types of paper

In paper production, the raw materials can be combined and processed in very different ways, so that there are around 3,000 different types of paper today. Our supplier Soennecken offers a wide range of papers for various purposes. A classic for every household and every office is, for example, the Soennecken standard A4, 80g / m² copy paper in white. The paper runs very well on all modern office equipment and is ideal for daily communication. With us in Osterode, Northeim and Holzminden you will find a large selection of different types of paper - we will be happy to advise you.

Our leisure tip: The largest paper museum in Germany

In the LVR industrial museum of the Alte Dombach paper mill you can take a closer look at the art of papermaking and experience the mill wheel, rag mill and laboratory paper machine in action. Perhaps you will even try your hand at being a papermaker ...?

Here you can watch a short video about the Alte Dombach paper mill