The History of Papermaking

Feed: 39 - Date: 10/13/2008 - Views: 1,235

Paper has been around for nearly 2000 years!!! Try to imagine life without it.

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The papermaking process has come a long way since 105 A.D. when Ts'ai Lun, a Chinese court official, invented paper. In all likelihood, Ts'ai mixed mulberry bark, hemp and rags with water, mashed it into pulp, pressed out the liquid, and hung the thin mat to dry in the sun. Thus began humanity's greatest revolution in communications.

William Rittenhouse and William Bradford founded the first North American paper mill in 1690 at Wissahickon Creek, near Philadelphia. Thanks to a great deal of imagination and hard work, they successfully collected, separated, cleaned, and recycled old cloth rags to make America's first writing papers.

In the early 1800s, Nicholas-Louis Robert of France invented the Fourdrinier, a machine that produces paper on an endless wire screen. Fifty years later, papermakers began successfully using wood fiber to make paper, a process that was introduced in the United States in the early 1900s.

In 1866, an American named Benjamin Tilghman developed the sulfite pulping process. The first mill using this process was built in Sweden in 1874. This was the dominant pulping process until 1937. At that time, kraft pulping became the dominant chemical pulping process and still is today. A German chemist, C. F. Dahl, developed the kraft (from the German word meaning "strong") pulping process in 1879. The first kraft mill in the United States was built in 1911 in Pensacola, Florida. The kraft process had several distinct advantages: the chemicals used to dissolve the lignin were recoverable and tremendous amounts of energy were produced during the recovery process, and the process could pulp pine trees, a predominant forest species in the United States. The Kraft process allowed the United States to become a major producer of paper products.

The development of paper signaled the beginning of the modern communication era. Later innovations incorporating paper would include the development of the Gutenberg Press, which allowed for mass production of printed materials thus increasing the demand for and production of paper. 

American Forest and Paper Association 


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