The export of the technique of papermaking to Europe, especially to Italy, has been well documented. From the 13th century onwards, papermakers at two early Italian centres, Fabriano and Amalfi, tried to improve upon the Arabian technique.
The Italian papermakers introduced a series of improvements to the papermaking process:
- the use of water to power the machinery
- the stamping mill was used to produce pulp more efficiently (derived from the machines used in textile handicrafts)
- the mould made of wire mesh (as a result of progress in wire production), which triggered
- the introduction of couching on felt
- the paper press with slides for feeding in the material, which quickens
- the drying process the drying of the sheets of paper on ropes
- the introduction of dip sizing – sizing is when a substance is applied to paper to change its surface properties, e.g. to improve strength or reduce absorbency of water
In the course of the rapid expansion of trade in the late Middle Ages, paper merchants were dealing with a commodity that was growing in importance for European public and intellectual life.
The first documented papermaking on German soil was in 1390 when the Nuremberg councillor Ulmann Stromer commissioned a paper mill.
His mill was initially designed with 2 waterwheels, 18 stamping hammers and 12 workers using one or two vats.