Gradually, the paper production process became fully automated: from the preparatory and pulp production stages through to the papermaking, use of fillers and finishing (including the headbox, wire section, pressing, drying, reeling, smoothing and packaging).
The paper industry developed appropriate industrial plants (groundwood and chemical pulp mills) in order to produce wood based paper on an industrial scale and to meet the demand for this increasingly valued substitute for rags which was set to become the dominant raw material for papermaking.
The second half of the 19th century was marked by the enlargement of the web width, an increase in working speeds due to improvements to various machine parts. Machines were designed specifically for particular paper and corrugated board products, (for example, the Yankee cylinder for tissue paper production). The web working width grew from 85 cm (1830) to 770 cm (1930), while production speeds rose from 5 m/min. (1820) to over 500 m/min. (1930).
In the past 50 years the rate of innovation in papermaking has increased rapidly. New materials have been developed (using thermo-mechanical pulps, recovered paper and new fillers). New sheet forming options and neutral sizing have been accompanied by a greater awareness and focus on environmental impacts.
New products and solutions are constantly being developed to meet the most complex of challenges. And it’s not just the finished products which have changed.
The continuous evolution of paper technology and production processes has increased speed, productivity and enhanced production quality whilst becoming increasingly responsive to environmental concerns. New technologies are in place to make paper lighter, reduce energy consumption and to generate biofuels.
Innovation has also led to greater specialisation by paper makers, for example in the development of new paper grades such as LWC – lightweight coated paper (mainly used in magazines, flyers and inserts such as coupons); and some paper groups have acquired their own raw material supply and trading organisations.