The circuit breaker currently in place has produced an assortment of mixed emotions among the consensus. A good number of the population in Singapore are dreading the lockdown measures and being disconnected from social lives or adjusting to the new work-from-home arrangements. For others the circuit breaker is seen as a time to stay away from the pandemic, and also recharge with the family. And if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the time to learn something new.
Today we invite you to take 5 minutes of time to learn something new in a condensed lesson about the art of papermaking.
A little history…
The versatile material we know today as paper was invented in AD 105 by the Chinese court official Cai Lun by mixing textile fibers from the barks of the mulberry trees in water. Throughout history the invention of paper has played a vital role in building the culture of reading and writing in China and the rest of the world.
Fast forward to present day, paper is used everywhere in the world and is a big part of our daily lives. From the packaging of the food we eat, to the hardcopy newspapers that some of us are subscribed to, to note taking of important details throughout the day, and last but certainly not least, money that we exchange for other goods. The presence and importance of paper is undeniable.
While we reap the benefits of paper as an instrument that helps us get along with our daily lives, not often do we think about the hard work and process it took to reach us seemingly effortlessly..
Process of papermaking
There are 3 main steps to papermaking and they are namely pulpmaking, papermaking and finishing.
The first step to creating the paper that we love is to procure its raw materials. Logs are sourced and debarked from trees such as spruce, fir, and pine and they go through a process to be converted into pulp by mechanical machines with revolving slabs.
The pulp is then filtered to remove unwanted objects that may be stuck on the logs. The pulp that is good for paper production then goes through a boiling process with the use of chemicals. Next, the pulp mixture is then set across a machine to be meshed and dried.
The dried and meshed pulp mixture then go through what is known as a size press. Sizing is an important step in the process papermaking as it helps the papermakers adjust the absorbent level of the paper. This will affect how well paper absorb the ink that are printed or etched on them.
Starch is commonly used in this process to lower the absorbent level of the paper to desired levels due to its water-resistant properties.
Next, the pulp mixture goes through heavy cylinders called calendar stacks which applies pressure to to flatten the pulp to the usage required. This process develops the thickness and smoothness level of the paper. At the end of this process, all remaining water are drained and dried to prepare it for the final step.
After all the work done in the pulpmaking and papermaking process, the paper is ready to be wounded onto the reels. This process is done a machine called a winder. The reels of paper are then sorted into smaller reels for easy management and packaging.
Impact on the environment
The process of print making requires thousands of trees, uses a lot of water and produces waste as a by-product. To reduce this environmental impact, printmakers utilise ways to reduce water wastage through filtration and waste is reused and repurposed for meaningful usage.
Moving down the supply chain, printing companies invest efforts to reduce the impact of their productions and recycling paper waste, manufacturers of printers have developed erasable ink so that paper can reused as though they are new.
As the issue of climate change and global warming becomes more evident, we as end-users benefitting from the use of paper should make an effort to reduce wastage and seek ways to extend its lifespan or provide it with a second life either through ways like reusing the paper or upcycling. We may not be able to plant more trees as individuals, but we can certainly do our part to make them last longer.
Check out some of our sustainability initiatives: https://www.fuisland.com.sg/sustainability.