Has paper fiber


The history of papermaking

The history of paper making is as varied as paper itself. While the Chinese began making paper two thousand years ago in ancient China, it took a little longer in Europe and the rest of the world. The most important developments in the production of paper are summarized in the following sections.


Paper making in ancient China

The actual invention of paper goes back to the year 105 BC. BC, when the Chinese Ts'ai Lun first described the process we know today for making paper. In this new type of paper production, the fibers were crushed, boiled and mixed with water. Subsequently, individual layers were skimmed off using a sieve. The scooped paper layers were then dried and then pressed and smoothed. The "paper" of that time consisted of silk waste, hemp, remnants of fishing nets and rags as well as bark or bast of the mulberry tree.


Paper manufacture in medieval Europe

As early as the 11th century, paper was first produced in Spain and then in the rest of Europe using water-powered paper mills. Hemp and flax fibers as well as nettle cloth were mainly used here for paper production. The fibers were obtained from rags that the paper producers bought from the rag collectors of the time. The paper was then dried with the help of paper presses that used screw pressure.


Paper production from the 19th century

During the 19th century, the previously used processes were optimized or even new innovative processes and corresponding machines were developed. Representatives of this time developed the first chemical pulping processes for wood to obtain the required fibers and were concerned with the development of (semi-) synthetic fibers for paper production. At the end of the 20th century, chlorine-free bleaching found its way into paper production, which further improved paper quality.


Facts and figures on paper and paper production in Germany

We have summarized the most important facts and figures relating to paper production below.


Facts and figures Germany
Total paper production (2018)
Consumption of raw materials in paper production
  • Approx. 1 million tons of wood pulp
  • 4.4 million tons of pulp
  • 17.2 million tons of waste paper
Turnover pulp and paper industry (2018)
Average water consumption
  • 9 liters per 1 kilogram of paper
Number of employees in the pulp and paper industry (2018)
Paper consumption (2018)
CO2-Output during production
  • 0.609 tons per ton of paper, paperboard and cardboard produced
Global facts and figures
Paper production worldwide (2017)


The TOP 10 countries with the highest paper consumption

Which nation consumes the most paper, cardboard and cardboard? The following ranking gives an overview of the paper consumption (in million tons) of the largest consumer countries.

  1. China (113.28)
  2. USA (70.39)
  3. Japan (26.42)
  4. Germany (20.61)
  5. India (13.74)
  6. Italy (10.32)
  7. South Korea (9.97)
  8. Brazil (9.64)
  9. Mexico (8.98)
  10. France (8.87)


How is paper made?

Paper production takes place in several steps. These range from stock preparation of the fibers to surface treatment, cutting and packaging of the paper produced. Depending on the type of paper and its later use, different things happen during the various manufacturing steps. With the help of different paper machines, water can be removed from the fiber mixture by filtering, pressing and drying and thus a wide variety of paper types can be produced.


Raw materials and components of paper manufacture

The three main components of paper production are water, energy and, above all, wood or wood fibers. Sources of raw materials are rivers, lakes, deciduous and coniferous forests. The energy required for production can be obtained by utilizing production residues and waste from the manufacturing process by using them as fuel. The following overview shows different types of wood fiber that can be used in paper production.


Wood fiber typeuseOrigin or tree species
Short fibersFor the production of papers with different and special requirements in terms of volume, opacity, smoothness and printability.Hardwood
  • birch
  • eucalyptus
  • acacia
  • aspen
Long fibersFor sturdy paper that has good running properties.Coniferous wood
Recycled fibersUsed for the economical and sustainable production of paper.Waste paper


Stock preparation

Depending on the type of wood and the later use of the paper produced, there are different methods of stock preparation, chemical and mechanical digestion. Regardless of the pulping method, in this first step of paper production, the wood is broken down into the wood fibers that are relevant for production. In the mechanical process, wood pulp is obtained; in the chemical process, so-called pulp.


Mechanical exposure

In this process, also known as wood pulp, the debarked pieces of wood are ground into wood fibers using a rotating whetstone. Another possibility is the defibration of so-called wood chips using a refiner, which produces the so-called thermomechanical pulp with two rotating disks and the addition of pressure and heat.


Chemical digestion

In chemical digestion, pulp is obtained from the processed wood. The sulphate process is mostly used for this. The wood is boiled in a suitable lye, which removes the lignin - the binding agent that holds the individual wood fibers together.


Bleaching of the wood / pulp

The bleaching of the wood or pulp is carried out in several steps and serves to remove impurities and to achieve the desired degree of whiteness. Either chlorine, chlorine compounds as well as ozone, oxygen or hydrogen peroxide are used in various forms. Most paper manufacturers do not use chlorine gas in the bleaching process for the sake of the environment and mostly produce elemental chlorine-free or chlorine-free pulp.


Paper production

Paper production takes place in several steps, which are described individually and in more detail below.

  1. First, the fiber suspension, which consists of 99 percent water and one percent fibers and other fillers, is injected between two moving screens. Here, paper webs are formed. All of this takes place in the so-called headbox of the paper machine.
  2. In the next step, the wire section, the excess water can run off so that an even paper fleece can form.
  3. In the press section of the paper machine, the water content of the paper is then reduced from 80 percent to around 50 percent by running through several rollers and being "squeezed out" in the process.
  4. In the dryer section, additional liquid is removed from the paper with the aid of hot steam.
  5. In the reel-up section, the last part of the paper machine, the finished paper web is rolled up into machine rolls - so-called tambours - and then transported to the equipment, where the paper is further processed for appropriate purposes.


Surface treatment and equipment

Depending on the intended use, the produced paper goes through different steps of surface treatment and thus receives its special finish. Common treatment steps include the following.

  • Surface sizing - to increase the surface strength and moisture resistance
  • Smoothing - for making MF paper (machine smooth paper)
  • Painting - to improve the surface structure and the optical properties
  • Supercalendering - for satin finishing the paper (production of semi-matt, matt or glossy surfaces)


Papermaking and the environment

The papermaking process is becoming more and more environmentally friendly thanks to the introduction of new processes and the use of recycled materials. But in connection with the environment, not only should production be as sustainable as possible, paper consumption should also be more conscious. We have summarized for you how consumers can contribute to this in the following section.


Tips to save paper

Even though paper is an everyday item of consumption for us, we should occasionally think about how our paper consumption affects the environment. If you want to save paper actively and for the sake of the environment, you will find some tips below.

  • Use paper that bears the “Blue Angel” quality mark.
  • Use digital solutions (e.g. take notes using the smartphone's note / memo app)
  • Use the duplex printing function
  • Store documents digitally if possible
  • No disposable paper cups or other "to-go" paper packaging
  • Use washable and therefore reusable kitchen towels and cleaning rags instead of kitchen rolls
  • Place bulk orders when shopping online