The Story of Paper (Part 2)
13TH CENTURY: EUROPEAN PAPER
Eventually, the paper making in China arrived in Europe.Italy invested the most within the industry and actually implementedimprovements upon the Arabian technique they’d learned from.
It’s believed thatwhen Italian traveler Marco Polo came back from his exploration in China, hereported their ingenious paper currency. This caught on in some Europeancountries such as Spain who began using paper notes in 1483.
17TH & 18TH CENTURY: INNOVATION & WHITE PAPER
The Europeans’ paper making technology significantlyadvanced throughout these two centuries. More mechanical solutions were beingintroduced to replace hand and manual labor, such as Nicolas-Louis Robert’sflat-screen paper making machine.
Robert’s design was further developed in England, and hisinvention became the core of the Fourdrinier machine: the basis for modernpaper making today.
To add to the innovations, Claude-Louis Bertholett, a Frenchchemist, invented the chemical bleaching of pulp in 1785. This produced thelevel of white paper that is widely used today. It’s most likely that theFrench Revolutionaries were the first to use such white paper.
However, with this rise in technology and the qualities ofpaper came an increase in demand. This lead to a shortage in cotton rags, thekey material in the process. Laws and regulations were introduced to try andgovern the trade of rags.
19TH CENTURY: WOOD-BASED PAPER
A quest to replace cotton rags with a substitute raw materialbegan in Europe. Different materials were tested, such as straw. However, oftenquality concerns would arise - nothing seemed to produce the same consistency.
Then, in 1843, Saxon Friedrich Gottlob Keller invented awood-grinding machine that produced ground wood pulp ideal for papermaking.Soon after in 1854, Hugh Burgers and Charles Watts invented an alternative wayto turn this wood into pulp: chemical pulping.
19TH & 20TH CENTURY: INDUSTRIALISATION OF PAPERPRODUCTION
With the success of the ground wood pulp, it became theleading raw material for papermaking. The paper industry began to developindustrial plants that specifically produce wood-based paper on an industrialscale to meet the growing demand.
The innovation in mechanical papermaking processes increaseddrastically throughout the 19th and 20th century. Eventually, it becameentirely automated. Everything from the prep, pulping to the drying andpackaging. The process had increased in speed, productivity and qualities ofpaper.
This level of innovation lead to more specialized types ofpaper grades, for example, lightweight coated papers for magazines, flyers,vouchers.
21ST CENTURY: NEW POSSIBILITIES
Today, the paper industry continues to grow and show newpossibilities and applications.
So far, the 21st century technology has allowed us to dothings like invent paper that can display whether a product is past itssell-by-date by changing color or produce batteries from paper.
With the contemporary environmental concerns, papercompanies are becoming increasingly aware about their impacts. New technologyis being developed and invested in to reduce energy consumption from papermills and generate biofuels.