Many modern papermaking machines are based on the principles of the Fourdrinier Machine, which uses a specially woven plastic fabric mesh conveyor belt (known as a wire as it was once woven from bronze) in the forming section, where a slurry of fibre (usually wood or other vegetable fibres) is drained to create a continuous paper web. After the forming section the wet web passes through a press section to squeeze out excess water, then the pressed web passes through a heated drying section.
The original Fourdrinier forming section used a horizontal drainage area, referred to as the drainage table.
Paper machines have four distinct operational sections:
Forming section, commonly called the wet end, is where the slurry of fibres filters out fluid a continuous fabric loop to form a wet web of fibre.
Press section where the wet fibre web passes between large rolls loaded under high pressure to squeeze out as much water as possible.
Drying section, where the pressed sheet passes partly around, in a serpentine manner, a series of steam heated drying cylinders. Drying removes the water content down to a level of about 6%, where it will remain at typical indoor atmospheric conditions.
Calender section where the dried paper is smoothened under high loading and pressure. Only one nip (where the sheet is pressed between two rolls) is necessary in order to hold the sheet, which shrinks through the drying section and is held in tension between the press section (or breaker stack if used) and the calender. Extra nips give more smoothing but at some expense to paper strength.
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