Tom Kubinski
Printing Consultant
tkubinski@sextonprinting.com
Direct: 651-255-1225
Fax: 651-457-7040
Cell: 612-760-3700

Sheila Stai
Customer Service
srs@sextonprinting.com
Direct: 651-255-1222

www.sextonprinting.com
250 East Lothenbach Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55118
Phone: (651) 457-9255
Fax: (651) 457-7040
Toll Free: (800) 388-2914


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August 2006 TK's Korner

Paper Mill Tour

TK's Korner 14th Annual Paper Mill Tour recap of Sappi (formerly Potlatch) in Cloquet.


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I can honestly say that after 14 tours, I still am learning each and every time I go up! This one was no different. It had many interesting factors to make it truly unique. Not only did Sappi purchase Potlatch, but they also are implementing many positive changes that our tour found quite beneficial and you will too in the months ahead. If you missed this year's tour, keep your calendars marked for the month of July next year.

Nursery-is still owned and operated by Potlatch. Please see the photos from this area


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  • Potlatch owns some 330,000 acres and is the largest private landowner in Minnesota.
  • 90% of the trees in the nursery are Red Pine
  • Every year more trees are planted than are harvested
  • Collecting all the cones takes place in the fall
  • Planting is best when trees are dormant in spring and when they're 1 yr old
  • Picture of 1-month-old trees. Takes 5 days to seed, 10 days to germinate.
  • One container holds 198 seedlings and the whole area holds 3700 containers or 732,600 seedlings total. (See photo of seedlings versus those 6 months old).
  • It is possible to grow a "3-year" seedling in 1.5 years with today's technology
  • Potlatch raises two crops of tree seedlings, about 1.4 million seedlings total each year in its greenhouse. (See photo of 732,600 seedlings about 6 months old)
  • Potlatch donates about 50,000 tree seedlings a year.
  • Only 1% of Minnesota forestland is harvested annually.
  • Minnesota has nearly 12 million more large trees (>19" diameter.) today than it did 30 years ago.
  • Harvesting of a paper tree does not occur until it is about 60 years old.
  • Harvesting of a board tree like a hybrid poplar occurs around 15-20 years. The Hybrid poplar grows about 12 feet a year.
  • Softwoods are used to give paper its strength due to its long fibers. Softwoods include Red Pine, Norway Pine and other conifers or trees with needles.
  • Hardwoods are used to give the paper its smoothness. Hardwoods include Maple, Poplar, Aspen, and other trees with leaves.
Wood room-is owned and operated by Sappi. Please see the photos from this area


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  • 250 trucks a day bring in logs to be processed plus railcars.
  • They are placed into a Tumbler; a huge cylinder, (that reminded me of the tunnel that the Six Million Dollar Man ran through in his opening scene), that is supported by about 10 huge landing gear tires that allow it to spin. Water and heat make it so that the bark easily comes off. Note, this tumbler is the largest & newest in the world.
  • All the waste bark etc is burned as fuel for Sappi and even some sold back to Cloquet.
  • Once the bark is removed, the logs move onto a conveyer belt that runs under a very sensitive metal detector. On one tour, we saw a huge trunk with a horseshoe in it and one with a spike. Wow
  • The logs are then moved to a very serious and extensive knife cutting/chipping area.
  • Two very huge sifters/sorters separate all chips into various piles based on size.
  • Then comes the huge, I mean huge piles of chips outside that lay in waiting for the selection process pertinent to each specific brand of paper. 60 million tons of chips are in each pile and there are about 8 piles. (see photos)
  • Even semi trucks with chips are dumped here. (see photos)
  • There is a system below the chip piles that allows Sappi to bring in the particular kind of material they need to make each specific type of paper. What a system to see.
Market Pulp Machine-this is a new part of the tour.
  • This paper pulp mill is new as of 1999 and is state of the art
  • Produces on avg 900-1200 tons a day
  • Ship pulp all over the world
  • At the headbox is 98.5% water and through squeezing & heat (like paper making) ends up to be around 6-10% water when finished depending on brand making
  • Master sheet is 186 inches wide and is cut down to 6 bails 31x33 each
  • Hardwoods=Maple & Aspen. This creates the smoothness of a sheet
  • Softwoods=Birch. This creates the strength of the sheet
Mill-is owned and operated by Sappi. (no photos available due to secret recipes a stirring)
  • The mill has two paper making machines, one coater, special sheet size machines, web/sheet fed packaging areas along with a special coating building.
  • Operates 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and 363 days a year.
  • Pulp is always made the same, no matter which type of tree is used.
  • What's added to the pulp & paper machine dictates what kind of base stock it is
  • The type of coating formula used dictates what type of paper is produced.
  • Master Rolls/Parent Rolls/Jumbo Rolls are 20 tons ea. & 192" Wide,100" Diameter.
  • They produce 650 tons or 35 parent rolls a day
  • Broke-is; A) Anything excess, B) Off Quality standards, C) Transition base stock, D) Transition coating, etc. They intend 35% as internal broke.
  • 10% Post-Consumer Waste is typical for most select brands
  • Each sheet has a wire side and a felt side. The wire side is smoother and harder than the felt. Yet, with today's technology, it is hard to see with the naked eye. Even for the pros.
  • From start to finish, the papermaking line is about 200 feet long
  • The process starts at 99% water and ends up at about 4%.
  • The coating goes on one side at a time with 320 gallons circulating onto sheet per minute and 15 to 20 thousand pounds of coating being applied per hour. A scanner runs across the sheet about every 20-30 seconds and scans 60 feet top to bottom per second. Knifes are used to smooth out the coating as well as take excess off. Something to see.
  • Super calendaring is the process of buffing the coating or polishing it to the desired finish. IE silk, velvet, dull or gloss. They also use many different materials.
  • Matte stocks are not calendared at all and that is why they tend to scratch n scuff.
  • Testing for physical, optical, color etc is done for every reel at different stages: A) Off the paper machine, B) Off the coater, C) Off the super calendar. All this and more is what gives you a quality paper and ISO certification.
  • An extensive tracking system is in place. It can trace back a skid of paper from a printer to its parent roll, date produced, by whom, conditions, etc. WOW
  • Cartoning and labeling occur in one smooth n slick process.
  • Press-Ready Skids is an awesome addition. There are slots in the the skids that allow the pressman to simply load and go.
  • They have some additional tools available to assist all with picking the right paper. Call 1-800-882-IDEA for more or to have your questions answered.
  • And yes, we even got our very own sample of pulp to touch n feel and take home. Some more than others. Ha ha . Had to be there to know more. This was real neat. In 14 tours, I have only gotten to see the pulp dropped in and new pulp being made twice.The chart below may assist you when choosing your next projects paper. Keep in mind when selecting, what is the subject at hand. That way, you will be sure to get the proper reproduction and intended effect. IE For some food shots like cherries, you don't want to use a blue white stock when a balanced or neutral would be better. Otherwise your cherries could look moldy.

    Available items & specs: Note PC=Post Consumer -
    Name Grade Finish Shade Brightness Opacity
    McCoy Premium-
    10% PC
    Gloss, Velvet, Silk, Matte Ultra Bright, Blue White 96 95
    Strobe Premium-
    10% PC
    Gloss, Silk Arctic White 93 96
    Lustro Number 1-
    10% PC
    Gloss, Dull, Dull Cream, Patina Matte Neutral 90 96
    Opus Number 2-
    10% PC
    Gloss, Dull, Matte, Satin (web only) Blue White 92 95
    Aero Number 2 Gloss Blue White 90 95
    Somerset Number 3 Gloss, Matte, Satin (web only) Blue White 88 94
    Belgrade Number 4 (web only) Gloss Blue White 83 94
    Magno Economy Star, Dull Blue White 90 93
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