Beating and Drainage Times of Hardwood, Esparta, and Abaca Fibers
I became interested in making different kinds of pulp after the unit on paper-making. I really enjoyed making my own paper and making Valentines to send out to people. Making the Valentines made me feel creative and I noticed quite a difference between the hardwood pulp and the cotton pulp. This experience sparked my interest in different types of pulp and hence, this project came to life.
In this project, I made 3 different types of pulp, namely, hardwood, esparta and abaca. I am interested in the different ways these pulps feel and the types of sheets of paper they produce. I am also looking at beating times and seeing how this affects drainage time as well as the paper produced. Drainage time is the variable that will be focused on. The constants are as follows:
Beating the fiber and making pellets:
Making Paper sheets
1. set up deckle box with water
The data will be on an excel chart for both the pellet and sheets of paper with their respective weights. The beating and drainage times for the three fibers are as follows:
1. Hardwood 23.5 min beating 98 sec drainage
2. Esparta 36 min beating 21 sec drainage
3. Abaca 16 min beating 62 sec drainage
As far as observations are concerned, I will begin with the similarities of all the pellets. Despite the fact that the same deckle can was used for all the pellets, they are still different shapes and sizes. It is also very obvious which side of the pellet was down on the board because of the smoothness. That is not to say that the surface is uniform on the side that lay on the board, but the areas that lay on the board, there is a noticeable difference. The different shape especially applies to the hardwood and abaca pellets. All of the edges curled up a bit at least in some areas.
The differences between the pellets are numerous. To begin with, non of the pulps are the same color. The hardwood is definitely the "whitest" followed by the esparta and then the abaca in terms of "yellowness". I am now looking at the last pellet from all the samples. The abaca is the most flexible of all the pellets. The hardwood and the abaca have the smoothest surfaces. The abaca is also more warped; the hardwood and the esparta are much more flat.
The similarities between the sheets of paper are few. The size is approximately the same because of the use of the deckle box. That is the only observable similarity that I can see.
The differences, on the other hand, are numerous. The thickness of the pieces is the first obvious difference and this is due to the amount of pulp concentrate used. The plain hardwood samples have some curled edges whereas the combination hardwood/softwood samples and the esparta samples have non-curled edges. While the hardwood edges have a tendency to be curled as compared to the other samples, the edges are the straightest out of the 3 groups of samples. The hardwood was the most difficult sheet to transfer to the pelon, followed by the hardwood/softwood combination. The esparta was wonderful in this respect; the sheet transferred easily. The actual texture of the edges is also quite different. The possible reasons for this will be discussed in the conclusion.
As far as observations in the beating process, the main observation I had was once the pulp was being beaten at the lowest level, just looking into the beater, the pulp seemed not to change in size. I know from the drainage time change that this is not the case, but just looking at the pulp going around, not much seemed to change. All the pulp looked the same as it was being beaten except for the obvious difference in color.
As far as the differences with the pellets are concerned, the obvious factor is the type of fiber used. Looking within the pellet groups, there are other factors that can come into play. A major factor that affects the shape of the pellet is the amount of total water allowed to drain. For the most part, I tried to wait until the water level reached at least 350ml, but sometimes my patience ran out. This was not a focus of the experiment. The amount of pressure put on the pellets also could have affected the shape. I tried to use the same amount of pressure, but I know the same amount of pressure was not applied every single time because of human error. The final factor is simply the scooping of the pulp concentrate from the beater itself. I definitely used the same technique every time, but that does not mean the fiber/pulp ratio was the same for every pellet. The same can be said for the individual sheets of paper; I used the same technique, but the amount of pulp concentrate versus the amount of water is not going to be exactly the same every time.
The scooping ratio is not the only factor that would affect the paper sheets turn out. The fact that the water was recycled from one sheet to the next could have affected the outcome. Some pulp no doubt makes it through the mold and then is recycled into the next batch. This can affect draining time, which can affect how the sheet turns out. Also, the dampness of the pelon and the amount of pressure used in rolling over the sheet could have affected the final product.
By far, the most influential factor in this whole process, besides the fiber used, was the beating time. I know the esparta and the abaca had clumps in the final sheets of paper produced. There is an example of the esparta, but not the abaca. It is possible that if the pulp had been agitated more in the deckle box, the clumps on the sheet would have been much more minimal. However, I believe the clumps are more due to beating time. Although the esparta was beaten the longest, it could have been beaten more. The same can be said for the abaca.
The hardwood pulp was incredibly difficult to transfer to the pelon, as noted above. Making a thin sheet of paper was next to impossible. The combination of hardwood/softwood made a beautiful thin paper. The esparta made a great thin paper except for the clumps of pulp. It all depends on what you are looking for.
To conclude, beating time definitely affects the quality of sheets produced by various fibers. It is impossible to say that a certain beating time is the best for all fibers. It is impossible to say what beating time is best for any of these individual fibers.
Some ideas for future experiments are: 1. Focus on one of these fibers and try to find the ideal beating time for the type of sheet of paper you want to produce. 2. Work more with combining the fibers to produce the desirable sheet of paper. Maybe a combination of the long fiber abaca and the short fiber esparta would make a great thin, durable sheet of paper.
The one and only Dr. Bordley!