Once the pulp is ready, it is then used to make paper in a process that is quite similar (in the basic actions) to the process first used by the ancient Chinese more than 1,900 years ago. The paper machine is the heart of the paper mill, a continuously running series of manufacturing processes that will convert the pulp solution into the perfect paper grade for each market application. The head-box is located at the beginning of the paper machine. Here, the pulp solution is injected at high pressure directly into the space between two continuously rotating wires. These carry the pulp into the gap former, which rapidly drains the excess water from both sides. This immobilizes the pulp within milliseconds of leaving the head-box, turning it into a continuous web of paper, still wet and fragile, but already exhibiting its most important sheet properties.
The delicate paper web is now carried into the press section by continuously looped wet felts, which carry away most of the water, and stop the sheet from tearing. At the shoe press, the paper web is forced between a soft rotating roller pressing against a hydraulically-actuated metal pad. Water is squeezed out of the paper by this pressure, and this is absorbed and carried away by the wet felts. The longest section of the paper machine contains the drying cylinders. These huge heated rollers dry the paper, giving it the strength to become self-supporting, ready for the processes which will determine its surface qualities.
The paper sheet passes along the paper making machine at up to 1400 metres per minute. Every process is continuously monitored to ensure its manufacturing consistency. The paper passes through a machine calender where two finely polished steel cylinders at a precisely determine width apart ensure that the paper thickness is consistently even. The paper then passes through a series of sizing and coating presses. Here, starch and coating colour are applied to its surface using a film press process. The coating colour is sprayed onto an elastic roll which then transfers the coating film to the paper web. Film-press coating creates a uniformly thick coating which follows the surface of the paper.
After each coating process, the surface is dried by infra-red heating panels and drying cylinders. Setting the surface with sizing encourages printing inks to dry on the surface of the paper rather than be absorbed into the paper, increasing the colour intensity of the finished print and improving the surface strength and water resistance of the paper. The paper is then wound onto series of steel ores which press against a pope reel. This makes sure that the paper is wound at the right tension onto each core. Every hour, the paper line creates a jumbo reel containing 80 kilometers of paper sheet, 8.5 meters in width, and weighing 120 tonnes. The paper machine operators carefully check every aspect of the base paper quality, its thickness opacity and smoothness making sure these are exactly specified, before allowing the robot truck to carry the jumbo reel away for further treatment and finishing processes.