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Consistency and conformity are key


March 1, 2000
By Pulp & Paper Canada

CONSISTENCY AND conformity of newsprint and its production were reverberated throughout the session on Newsprint requirements from a “Customer Perspective.”A panel of five discussed the needs of the c…

CONSISTENCY AND conformity of newsprint and its production were reverberated throughout the session on Newsprint requirements from a “Customer Perspective.”

A panel of five discussed the needs of the customer with respect to the quality of the paper product, inking and what the paper of the future should be.

“Is there a future for ink and paper?” asked John D’Alessandro, manager, Newspaper Association of America. “Yes. Did you expect me to answer otherwise,” as he responded to his own question which drew a chuckle from those in attendance. Despite newspaper readership having dropped from a high in 1970 of 78% to 58% in 1999, D’Alessandro still sees a future in newsprint. He views this drop as a question of economics and not so much as readership. The dilemma he believes, is how to attract more readers. At present the readership is an older audience, so the question becomes, how to interest a younger audience?

Change in newspaper production has included the use of digital technology, which advertisers favour more for its graphics, logos and such. D’Alessandro believes that digital presses will eliminate presses and we know them, however at present, employees do not have the skills to operate this new technology.

He and several other key members in the industry have formed a joint newsprint steering group to discuss issues and find solutions to questions regarding newspaper and newsprint requirements. To learn more about this group, the following website address was provided, www.e-forum.naa.org/.

In closing, D’Alessandro stated, “With electronic imagery such as e-mail, internet, television and radio, everyone wrote us off. Yet, we’re still here!”

William Hee, newsprint manager, The New York Times Company, singled out consistency of product as the key to better newsprint.

“Eliminate the invariability of running off different presses,” will provide a more consistent quality of newsprint. The mills should muster the troops, sit down and hash out how they can establish a uniform code to produce roll to roll consistency, according to Hee.

PAM (Press Analysis and Monitoring), Hee purported, can follow the progress of the newsprint from the beginning of the roll to the end. The technology is there for the mills to provide quality and consistency. In view of this, he stated that he couldn’t accept an employee blaming poor quality paper for breaks or unstable production.

“Mills,” Hee believes, “need to conform to acceptable standards of bias weight that is easiest to control.”

“Top performing rolls are uniformly built from core to surface,” stated Paul Lynch, quality assurance/pre-press director of the Chicago Tribune.

Like Hee, Lynch expressed the importance of consistency in the quality of the end newsprint product. He further stated that fibre formation distribution affects absorption off ink causing run off and the need to eliminate sidedness.

“Mills should be committed to meet customer requirements,” he stated.

By developing industry standards, uniformity of product can be attained. At present, mills are using different equipment, aluminity, geometry, etc. Conformity can bring about consistency. “We must calibrate roll to roll,” said Lynch.

Scott Edwards of Flint Ink talked about the inking process and the need for consistency in inking practices to avoid rub-off.

Several tests have been developed to test ink quality and absorption rates. The Prufbau test is an example of one such test. The end result can determine ink/paper interaction, assist in the development of new ink products and newsprint stock evaluations.

The penetration ink through newsprint is the determining factor behind the quality of ink used. “Less absorbency means less strike through,” stated Edwards. Using a higher the grade of ink makes for a better quality newspaper.

Flexo, a product used to prevent rub-off, is a concern of the deinking industry. The use of the product helps eliminate rub-off, but affects deinking operations. The final decision is in the hands of the customer. Less rub-off keeps the customer happy.

“What I see in the future is the ink and newsprint working together,” said Edwards in the hopes that they will develop consistent newsprint and inking standards.

“Runnability is the number one concern,” according to Peter Keung, technical specialist – paper department, BASF.

Amid an endless barrage of slides and grafts, Keung’s final slide simply read, “No Breaking + No Linting = $,” a sentiment understood by those in attendance.

The floor was opened up to questions and of concern was the cost to mills in order to meet the demands of the customer. James Ramp of SP Newsprint asked, “How would we recapture costs?” William Hee stated that he believed that if there are less breaks there will be more efficiency and perhaps some dollar savings can be realized.

Paul Lynch of the Chicago Tribune answered his own question, “What should I be looking for as a paper?” He reply was, “Bond fibres — strength, penetration without soak through and evenly distributed fibres.”

For all those mills who produce newsprint, the perfect paper, according to the customer, has to be lightweight, 45+ grams, with nice knit fibres.


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