Industry and business

Paper napkin industry and information about its manufacturing machines

Paper napkin industry and information about its manufacturing machines

The manufacturing of paper tissues is one of the most prevalent and significant industries in our modern era. Tissues are essential products that people cannot do without, as they are used for various purposes. They are produced in massive quantities, especially in European countries.

Someone might wonder, while using a tissue, how is it made? They might think that manufacturing tissues is a simple and inexpensive process. However, the reality is quite different. Despite being relatively cheap, the production of paper tissues is highly costly, primarily due to the nature of its raw material, wood. Furthermore, the manufacturing process of tissues involves some environmental concerns due to the raw materials used.

Materials Used in Manufacturing

Wood Pulp:

Wood pulp is the primary raw material used in the manufacturing of paper tissues. It is a lignocellulosic fibrous material prepared chemically or mechanically by separating cellulose fibers from wood. Any tree can be used to make pulp, but softwood trees such as fir, pine, cedar, and spruce, as well as some hardwood trees like eucalyptus, aspen, and birch, are preferred. Each type of wood has its characteristics. Softwood contains long cellulose fibers that intertwine, giving strength to the paper. Hardwood, on the other hand, has shorter cellulose fibers, resulting in a softer paper. Toilet paper, in general, is a blend of about 70% hardwood and 30% softwood.

Recycled Paper:

Waste paper is collected, sorted, and brought to a paper mill, where it is mixed with water and chemicals. It is then separated, purified, and filtered to remove impurities and colors, converting it into pulp. The processed pulp is then formed into a huge roll at the paper mill and transported to a tissue manufacturing plant to be converted into the final product. This type of pulp is commonly used in the production of toilet tissues, as it is of lower quality, cheaper, and less white compared to tissues made from wood pulp. However, manufacturing paper tissues from recycled paper has several benefits as it is considered environmentally friendly and economically efficient.

How it’s Made: Paper Tissue Manufacturing

The first step in the production of soft paper tissues is the creation of paper pulp, which can be made from wood fibers or recycled materials. The pulp goes through a multi-stage washing system to remove most of the lignin and other chemicals. It is then placed in a mixing tank with a large amount of water, while the wood pulp is present in the mixing tank. The manufacturer adds chemicals that may be necessary to soften, strengthen, or color the paper, such as sodium sulfite, limestone, and peroxide.

The amount of water mixed depends on the specific product being manufactured. The mixture is then heated with steam and poured onto specific surfaces where all the water drains, leaving only the fibers in the form of a thin fabric. These fabrics are transferred to a massive heated cylinder called a Yankee, where the tissues are almost instantaneously dried. The paper tissues are then transferred to form a massive roll. The pulling speed of the jumbo roll can be adjusted to obtain a thicker or thinner tissue. The jumbo rolls are placed on a converting machine.

When manufacturing toilet tissues, the layers of the tissue are divided, and each layer passes through a different embossed roller. The embossing softens the toilet tissues, creates a decorative pattern, and helps to hold them together, making it easier to separate the tissue sheets. The tissues are then wrapped around a cardboard tube to create a toilet roll. Other types of tissues can be thicker and heavier with the addition of conditioners to provide strength when the paper is wet.

Paper tissues can be single-ply or two-ply, meaning they are either a single sheet or two sheets placed side by side to make them more durable and absorbent. Colors, scents, and patterns can also be added, although fragrances can sometimes cause issues for consumers with sensitivities.

Paper Tissue Manufacturing Machines

In reality, tissue manufacturing is not limited to a single machine; it is a complex process. You may think that this product goes through a simple manufacturing stage, but it’s quite the opposite. There are hundreds of meters of machinery involved in the manufacturing of paper tissues, depending on the specified production capacity.

The production line for paper tissues is quite similar to the paper production line, and they share some sections. When examining it, we find that the tissue production machines can be divided into two main sections:

  1. Primary Production: This section involves machines that produce paper pulp from wood pulp or recycled materials. It includes several machines such as the mill, mixer, and drying machines like the Yankee dryer. The pulp is then passed through a paper scraping machine with blades, followed by a pressing machine and an embossing machine. In some products, this part can be omitted. The paper strips are then transferred to another machine to be rolled onto massive rolls that can weigh up to five tons.
  2. Final Production: This section consists of less complex machines and can be used for small-scale projects by purchasing large tissue paper rolls from factories that have the primary production line, as mentioned in the previous note. The rolls are then shaped into the final product.

In this part of the production, there are various machines that can be used depending on the type of the final product. However, most of them include a cutting machine that cuts the paper according to the product. Initially, the paper may pass through special folding machines to acquire a soft texture. Tissue paper can also go through a coating process. Afterward, there is a sorting stage, which can span hundreds of meters of machines depending on the specified production capacity. Then, packaging machines come into play, which package the tissue pieces according to their type, such as household tissues, sanitary tissues, and others, based on shape and use.

Of course, larger factories sometimes have both the primary production line and the final production line. Therefore, you will find extremely large factories with numerous interconnected machines to produce all types of tissues in massive quantities.

Production of Paper Tissues

Paper tissues are produced in various thicknesses and textures depending on their usage. They are primarily manufactured for facial tissues, toilet tissues, paper towels, sanitary tissues, and occasionally for packaging tissues.

  1. Sanitary Tissues: Sanitary tissues are produced for personal and medical use, especially for babies. They are completely sterilized and contain materials that help kill bacteria.
  2. Toilet Tissues: Toilet tissues are produced in small rolls and widely used in toilets, especially in European countries. This type is characterized by its very low cost compared to other tissue types. However, its quality is generally poor.
  3. Facial Tissues: Also known as facial wipes, these are small square tissues layered in the package, making them easy to carry. They are considered high-quality tissues.
  4. Hand Towels: Hand towels, also known as household tissues, are produced for fixed locations such as homes, cars, or dining tables, where they are used for drying or wiping. They are also square-shaped tissues but not layered. They are packaged in boxes or cartons, and one tissue is pulled out at a time for use.

Some Environmental Issues in the Industry

The production of tissue paper may contribute to global and local environmental problems more than any other industry worldwide. This is because most tissue papers are made from wood pulp rather than recycled materials due to market demand for high-quality tissue paper produced from wood pulp. It has been reported that a single tree produces about 100 pounds of paper, which means that a family of four consumes two trees every year.

Considering that tissues are essential products that people cannot do without, the average global consumption per person annually is around 55 kilograms. The global tissue paper market is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 6.45% from 2021 to 2026, according to RISI. In 2021, the global tissue paper production exceeded 44 million tons, an increase of more than 14 million tons since 2010. This leads to the cutting of numerous trees and the removal of forests solely for tissue paper production. Additionally, the disposal of such a large number of tissues in roads, water bodies, and other places contributes to environmental pollution. The disposal of millions of trees annually in the form of tissue papers is both alarming and saddening, considering its usefulness.

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