A large commercial printer contracted me to write a bimonthly newsletter aimed at existing and prospective clients. Each issue featured articles providing technical advice and industry knowledge all with a light tone geared toward sales.
Copywriting, Creative Concept, Project Management
THE RING OF FREE PAPER (VS. GROUNDWOOD)
Papers are sometimes referred to as being a “free sheet”. Does that mean that the paper company gives the paper away for “free”?
Surprise, Surprise, it does not!
Well then, what does “free” mean?
The fiber that paper is made from is called “pulp”. Pulp is made from organic products that contain a lot of cellulose. Most pulp is made from wood. Most of the wood used in paper is an agricultural product, grown in “planted” tree “farms”, just as corn or cucumbers are grown.
An uncoated paper is simply a thin layer of pulp, which is formed in a machine, and then smoothed or ironed in a calendar stack. The thicker the layer of pulp is, the more the paper will weigh and the “heavier” it is.
Coated papers are a thin layer of pulp, which is then coated (normally on both sides) with a layer of finish that is primarily made of very pure and very white clay. The clay “coated” paper is then smoothed or ironed or polished in a calendar stack. The more times it is calendared the smoother and shinier it gets. The thicker the layer of clay, the whiter the paper becomes, and the smoother it can be calendared. And the glossier it can become.
When pulp is manufactured from “wood” the cellulose has to be removed from the wood. There are two methods used.
The first is a mechanical method. Logs of wood are pressed against a big “grinding wheel”. The wheel grinds or tears away at the wood and grinds off pieces of cellulose, along with all of the other material and chemicals that wood is made of. Water is used to wash away the ground up materials and keep the grinding wheel clean. The water runoff contains all of the material, which is then separated from the water. This material is referred to as “mechanical” or “groundwood” pulp, and is used in the manufacture of paper. Paper made from mechanical or groundwood pulp is referred to as groundwood paper.
The second method of making pulp is a chemical method in which the wood, which is first chipped up, is cooked or chemically processed to remove all of the binders and adhesives and resins that make up wood and to leave just the cellulose. Once the chemical “cooking” is completed and the cellulose is washed, it is pure clean cellulose. In simplest terms this cellulose material has now become pulp, and is referred to as chemical pulp. It is very clean and white. And the fibers are relatively long because they were not ground off of a log.
The two types of pulp, mechanical and chemical are often blended together before paper is made, in order to gain some of the advantages of each of the types of pulp.
Paper that is made from pure chemical pulp is referred to as a “free” sheet, meaning simply that it is “free of groundwood”. “Groundwood” papers contain at least some percentage of ground wood as part of the formulation of the pulp used when the paper was made.
So, it is not “free” it is just “free”.