In the next 5 years, these four technologies are set to increase capacity and enable new product opportunities for the makers of specialty papers.
According to the new Smither Pira market report – The future of Specialty Papers to 2022, steady growth will continue through the end of the decade at 2.2% per year to push this to 26.98 million tons in 2022. The technologies that will contribute to this are the following: Foam Forming, Precision Control on Large Format Machines, Industry 4.0 and Stretchability.
Foam forming is a papermaking process that can produce nonwoven-type materials on paper machines with excellent formation uniformity, porosity and bulk.
Foam forming is a multi-phase fluid system structured by the presence of gas bubbles separated by thin liquid films. The bubbles impart increased sheet bulk and porosity to the paper.
New systems employing foam forming are now entering commercial production due to a series of recent technical refinements. A key focus is maintaining sheet strength while not compromising the enhanced paper bulk. The process of employing cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) is reporting a 16-19% improvement in tensile strength.
Paptic’s extensible paper bag stock which offers a more environmentally friendly substitute for plastic is the first product to come from the foam forming development.
Precision in Papermaking
What we are seeing is state-of-the-art precision technology being developed for the commodity grades what will steadily find a wider use on specialty machines. Some of the key benefits from this are, reduced product variation, which in turn results in tighter specifications with less waste from changeovers, rejected lots or over-designed products that use excess fiber to cover poor variability and reproducibility.
The biggest impact we will see is the implementation of precision technology on faster and wider papermaking machines allowing them to compete in the specialty spaces that have always relied on slower, labor intensive papermaking.
This ability to gain data and information on various pieces of equipment and then sharing this data so it makes sense to other components is what the industry is calling Industry 4.0. Computers have been used in the paper making process since the 60’s. What is happening today is, the quality system and the technical process are all talking to the supply chain and letting them know when to order material, or spot a trend with something happening on the paper machine.
New on-line sensors or “eyes” have increase drastically in the last 5 years. The key benefit is first they are able to be programmed to detect an abnormality, but the real win is this data can be saved and graphed to show trends.
An example of this trend is the evolution of headboxes with the online CD basis-weight profiling. The headbox slice is kept as straight as possible, but the excess weight is a small area is corrected by injecting water in narrow segments to displace just the excess fibre.
Imagine a paper that can achieve a base sheet with a 20% stretchability in the machine direction and 16% in the cross direction. Initially developed in Europe by Gruppo di X, and beta tested with Innventia in Sweden, the capacity to develop stretchable papers is now a commercial reality via a licensing deal with BillerudKorsnas in Europe.
End products include tray-format packaging and pharmaceutical blisters for stiffness and advertising, paper cups and other liquid containers as well as decorative foils for furniture. This stretchable paper is intended to replace plastics with natural paper webs.
As we can see from these four examples, the creating and using of data is starting to play a larger roll in the paper industry. This will help us to bring products to market faster and save costs. Where logistics is such a big part of Cheever, we have already seen our warehouse software go through updates forced on them by customers looking to see their data in different ways. We are now able to provide this data in a daily email showing the customer their inventory on our floor.
If you would like to chat on some of your paper needs or bounce and idea off one of our team members, please contact us here – we would love to here from you..