The systematic search for substitute raw materials with which to produce paper in Europe proved difficult. In the early 18th century straw was used as a raw material but it failed to make headway due to quality concerns.
However, in 1843, a solution was at hand, Saxon Friedrich Gottlob Keller invented a wood-grinding machine which produced groundwood pulp suitable for papermaking. This milestone was soonfollowed by an alternative way to turn wood into paper: chemical pulp was first patented in 1854 by Hugh Burgers and Charles Watt.
Following the invention of the first papermaking machine by J.N.L. Robert in 1798, other machines soon appeared on the market, such as Dickinson’s cylinder machine. The machines could continuously fill wire moulds and couch the sheets of paper on felt.
Flat screen and cylinder machines, which were first seen in the 19th century, were continually improved and extended to include a dryer section. This soon led to a considerable widening of the paper web and to an increase in production speeds.