Jon Danzig directs: ‘The Paper People’
♪ DRG The Paper People, DRG The Paper People, Paper People.. ♫ “Paper” “Paper” “Paper” “Paper” “Atchoo! Paper” “Paper” “Paper” “Paper” “Paper” “PAPER!” Narrator: Paper. It’s something all of us use. But how’s it made? “With some peelings off vegetables.” “I don’t know how paper’s made.” “Paper’s made of a ‘chine” “what’s that big – 5 years old!” “Well…” “it’s plastic boiled and then cut into very thin strips.” “I think paper is made in a big machine about that big..” “People make it nice and flat” “even flatter than when it came out of the machine” “for people to draw on and write on.” Well, kidding apart, the production of paper and board has gone through a revolutionary process lately. The Egyptians, who first started making the stuff some 6,000 years ago would have a shock if they could see its manufacture today. And so might you. Here, at DRG’s Nash Mills near Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire is housed one of Europe’s most modern paper making centres. Every week, hundreds of tons of wood pulp are delivered to the mill. The mill was established by that great 18th Century scientist and inventor, John Dickinson. Now, the company which he started, is part of the multi-national Dickinson Robinson Group, DRG. Today, paper is made from a mixture of pulps imported to Britain from many parts of the world. The pulps arrive at Nash Mill in a semi processed state delivered in bales of large sheets like very thick blotting paper. The bales are then loaded on to a conveyor belt and fed into a giant water filled hydro-pulper which breaks up the pulp sheets in a violent whirling motion. ♪ Musical interlude ♫ 6,000 gallons of water are agitated with the mix which is formulated from various types of pulps, depending on the finished product required. Within 15 minutes its reduced to a porridge like substance called half-stuff. At Nash Mills, Derek Alford is in charge of this vital first stage. “Well, after all that violent agitation” “the half-stuff is then pumped into a holding chest.” “To me, at this stage, it rather looks like Technicolor porridge.” “It feels warm and soggy.” “And at this point, 94% of it is water.” “Dyes are then added at just the right quantity” “to obtain the Vanguard Daffodil shade that we’re making today.” “The wet pulp is then pumped through the refiners” “where the fibre is broken down and bruised” “according to whatever grade of paper” “or board we might be making that day.” “Chemicals are then added “to affect the strength and smoothness of the paper.” “These additives include China clay and rosin size.” One of the latest developments at Nash Mill is the installation of a million pound computer system. The new system is one of the most sophisticated in Europe. Next, the mix, now diluted to 99 parts water, to one part fibre, is pumped through the cleaners. These remove any traces of sand, dirt or foreign particles, and screen out any contaminants. The pulpy mix is then ready for the last stage in its transformation into paper. The paper making machine is enormous, the length of 20 buses. ♪ Musical interlude ♫ Controlled by computer, the pulp flows onto a continuous nylon mesh. This moves endlessly forward at a speed of up to 350 metres a minute. ♪ Musical interlude ♫ A side to side vibrating motion helps to knit together the fibres. Much of the water is drained and sucked away through the wires. But it isn’t wasted. It simply goes back through the system, to dilute even more pulp. The pulp, by now a semi-formed sheet then passes under the Dandy roll, which presses and smooths any upstanding fibres. It’s Eddie Mushens who looks takes charge of this wet end of the production line. “The Dandy roll is also used for putting on laid lines” “and watermarks, such as you find in Three Candlesticks” “and the watermark which is in Croxley Script.” “The sheet, or the web as we call it” “is then picked up on an endless felt blanket” “and carried through three controlled presses” “which squeezes out approximately 50%” “of the water that is left in the sheet.” “This water which is drained off is not actually wasted.” “Along with trimmings from the edge of the wet sheet,” “it’s pumped through a filter, which we call a saveall “and is then recycled back into the system.” ♪ Musical interlude ♫ Back to the main production line.. From the felt blanket, the sheet has to pass around a series of steam heated iron cylinders, to get it really dry. Moisture is evaporated from the paper in clouds of steam. A coating of starch size, made from potatoes or maize, is then added. This helps to give a smooth surface to the paper, and also increases its surface strength. Eventually, the paper has a moisture content of between 6 and 7%. Towards the end of the machine, the paper runs through calendar rolls These are steel rollers which determine the paper’s thickness, and create its desired finish, on a scale from rough to glossy. This computerised scanner makes the last checks to the finished paper. Is it the right weight? The right moisture? The right density? The computer knows it all, and tells all on the visual display unit. ♪ Musical interlude ♫ The paper or board is then wound onto jumbo reels, weighing up to 6 tonnes each. Next, the reels are slit, and re-wound onto smaller, more manageable ones. This computerised reeler, costing half-a-million pounds, slits and reels at a phenomenal rate. The paper flies through at 1200 metres a minute, producing up to 50 reels an hour. The reel size, which previously had to be adjusted manually, is now automatically programmed by the computer. Once slit and reeled, the reels then split.. on go on a musical mystery tour. ♪ Musical interlude ♫ Large sheets are cut on what’s known as a folio size precision cutter, capable of accepting 4 reels at a time. Les Sturman looks after this end of the paper process. “Any sheet that doesn’t measure up exactly” “is automatically rejected by the machine.” ♪ Musical interlude ♫ “Once these sheets are cut and counted,” “they’re wrapped automatically, almost by magic..” ♪ Musical interlude ♫ “This machine, called a Wrapmatic, “packs and seals the sheets into a waterproof wrapper.” “These are then stacked onto a pallet” “then taken to the stock room” “or placed in the dispatch area.” “In the past, it took two workers over 33 hours” “to produce the same amount of work” “this machine can do in 8 hours.” The cutting, counting and boxing of A4 size sheets is also an art to behold. From the moment this white bond paper started its life as a fibrous mass of pulp, to the time it makes its debut on your office desk, it’s untouched by human hand. Every day around 60 tonnes of paper flows through this machine, and robotically turns out 26,000 reams of famous named brands, boxed, sealed, and ready to be delivered. ♪ Musical interlude ♫ The mill manufactures one or other of these papers and boards 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But each time the production of a new brand begins, the paper left over from the previous production, has to be removed. It isn’t wasted though. Instead, this generated broke as it’s called, goes off for a side-splitting experience. This is Danger Knife. And, with a force of 2,900 pounds per square inch, it can slice through a 1 tonne reel of broke, in half a minute. Just watch. Afterwards, the cut up broke is lifted away, and recycled into the paper making process. At DRG, nothing is wasted. Each year about 30,000 tonnes of paper and board leave Nash Mills in a fleet of lorries. They cover an average of nearly half-a-million miles a year, delivering to customers throughout the United Kingdom. Four fifths of the loads are delivered as sheets, and the rest are conveyed on reels for printers. So, now do you know how paper and board are made? (Children start talking) “The pulp goes into the hydro-pulper.” “Dyes are added.” “It then goes through the refiners.” “And chemicals are put in.” “The cleaners are next.” “And then a big machine.” “Under the Dandy roll.” “And onto felt blankets.” “Through very hot cylinders to make it dry.” “Then through the size press.” “And the calendars too.” “The computer gives a final check.” “The paper’s cut up.” “And then it goes away to shops and places.” “I should be having my dinner now.” Filmed on location at DRG Nash Mills and Two Waters Primary School Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England.