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  • JPT Team

The Process of Making Coreboard from Recycled Paper

Updated: Mar 29




The transformation of recycled paper into coreboard, a specific type of cardboard, is not only an eco-friendly endeavour but also a fascinating journey through the world of recycling and manufacturing. Coreboard is essential for numerous applications, including the manufacturing of paper tubes and cores, offering both strength and durability. This explainer delves into the meticulous processes involved in converting recycled paper into coreboard, detailing each step from collection to the final product.


Collection and Sorting

The journey begins with the collection of recycled paper, which is gathered from various sources such as households, businesses, and recycling centres. Once collected, the paper undergoes a critical sorting process to separate different types of paper and remove contaminants. This step is vital as the quality of the recycled paper significantly impacts the quality of the coreboard.

Types of Paper for Recycling

Not all recycled paper is equal; some types are better suited for coreboard production than others. Newspapers, office paper, and cardboard boxes are commonly used, while paper with high ink coverage, adhesives, or food contamination is avoided due to the additional processing required to remove these impurities.

Pulping

Following sorting, the paper is transported to a recycling facility where it undergoes pulping. Pulping involves mixing the paper with water and chemicals, breaking it down into fibres in a large agitator known as a pulper. This process creates a slurry of paper fibres, water, and chemicals, which is then screened and cleaned to remove any remaining contaminants such as staples, plastic, and bits of metal.

Deinking

For certain types of coreboard and depending on the end-use requirements, a deinking process may be employed. Deinking involves removing ink from the paper fibres through a combination of chemical, mechanical, and flotation processes, resulting in a brighter pulp that can be used for a wider range of applications.

Washing and Bleaching

The pulp is then washed to remove the remaining ink, chemicals, and other impurities. Washing is typically done with water in a series of stages to ensure thorough cleaning. If a whiter pulp is desired, bleaching agents may be added during this stage to further brighten the pulp. However, for coreboard production, which often prioritises strength over appearance, extensive bleaching is not always necessary.

Refining and Beating

Refining and beating are processes that enhance the pulp's properties to suit specific manufacturing needs. Refining involves passing the pulp through machines that fibrillate the fibres, increasing their surface area and enhancing the pulp's bonding ability. Beating, on the other hand, further breaks down the fibres, making them softer and more flexible. These processes are critical in controlling the strength, thickness, and other physical properties of the coreboard.


Forming the Coreboard: An In-depth Look

The transformation of pulp into coreboard is a pivotal stage in the recycling journey, where the prepared pulp finally assumes a new life as a sturdy and versatile material. This phase is intricate, requiring precise control over various parameters to ensure the coreboard meets specific quality and performance standards. Here, we'll explore the key steps and technologies involved in more detail.


The Paper Machine: Heart of the Process

At the core of coreboard formation is the paper machine, a marvel of engineering designed to convert a watery slurry of fibres into a solid sheet of paper. This machine is typically several meters wide and can be up to 100 meters long, comprising several distinct sections, each dedicated to a specific part of the drying and forming process.


Headbox: Distributing the Pulp

The journey of forming coreboard begins at the headbox, where the pulp mixture is introduced to the paper machine. The headbox plays a crucial role in ensuring an even distribution of the pulp across the width of the machine, which is essential for producing a uniform sheet of coreboard. Advanced headboxes are equipped with sophisticated controls to adjust the flow and consistency of the pulp, accommodating different grades of coreboard.


Wire Section: Initial Formation and Water Removal

Following the headbox, the pulp enters the wire section, also known as the forming section. Here, the pulp is deposited onto a continuously moving fine mesh screen. As the pulp travels along this screen, water begins to drain away, leaving behind a mat of interwoven fibres. The design of the wire section, including the speed of the mesh and the drainage rate, is critical for defining the initial properties of the coreboard, such as its density and thickness.

Vacuum boxes beneath the mesh further enhance water removal, ensuring the fibre mat consolidates effectively. Adjustments to the vacuum pressure allow for precise control over the moisture content and thickness of the emerging coreboard.


Press Section: Consolidation and Further Dewatering

The semi-dried fibre mat then progresses to the press section, where it is squeezed between large rollers to remove additional water. This step is vital for increasing the density and strength of the coreboard. The rollers apply pressure to the mat, compacting the fibres together, which enhances the bonding and structural integrity of the coreboard. The pressure and temperature of the rollers can be adjusted to achieve the desired characteristics in the final product.


Dryer Section: Final Drying

The dryer section is responsible for removing the remaining moisture from the coreboard. This section consists of a series of steam-heated cylinders over which the coreboard is passed. The heat causes the water within the coreboard to evaporate, leaving a dry and strong sheet. The number, arrangement, and temperature of these cylinders are carefully controlled to ensure uniform drying and to prevent warping or curling of the coreboard.


Calendering: Finishing the Surface

After drying, the coreboard may undergo calendering, a process where it is passed through a series of smooth rollers. This step compresses the coreboard to a desired thickness and imparts a smooth finish to its surface. Calendering is particularly important when a uniform thickness and a smooth surface are critical for the coreboard's intended application.


Quality Control: Ensuring Excellence

Throughout the forming process, stringent quality control measures are in place to ensure the coreboard meets the required specifications. Sensors and monitoring systems continuously assess the coreboard's moisture content, thickness, density, and surface properties, allowing for real-time adjustments to the production parameters. This meticulous attention to detail ensures that the coreboard produced is of the highest quality, suitable for a wide range of industrial and commercial applications.


Cutting and Finishing

Once the coreboard sheet is formed, it is wound onto large reels. These reels are then cut into sheets or narrower reels depending on the final application requirements. The coreboard is inspected for quality, ensuring it meets the necessary specifications for strength, thickness, and surface properties.



Environmental and Quality Considerations

Throughout the coreboard production process, environmental and quality considerations play a pivotal role. Recycling paper not only reduces the need for virgin fibre but also lowers energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions compared to making paper from trees. Moreover, stringent quality control measures are in place at each stage to ensure the coreboard meets the required standards, making it suitable for a wide range of industrial applications.

Conclusion

The production of coreboard from recycled paper is a complex but highly sustainable process that showcases the incredible potential of recycling. By converting waste paper into valuable products, we can reduce our environmental footprint while supporting a wide range of industries. The steps outlined above, from collection and sorting to pulping, forming, and finishing, highlight the intricate processes involved in making coreboard, emphasising the importance of recycling and innovation in our path towards a more sustainable future.

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