Model of a Fourdrinier-type papermaking machine
- c1935 in Edinburgh
Model of a Fourdrinier-type papermaking machine made by Bertrams Sciennes Ltd, Edinburgh.
On this machine, pulp or stuff passes through a rotary strainer before flowing over the brest box and onto the moving wire gauze. The wire is shaken from side to side to help interlock the fibres. The water drains out through the wire gauze as it passes over the rollers and more is drawn out by a vacuum suction box.
At the end of the wire the wet sheet of paper is pressed and transferred to a moving felt blanket. This passes under a heavy marble roller to press the paper again. From this press the paper is transferred to another felt blanket and passed over cylinders filled with steam to dry it. To give a smooth finish, the paper may be passed through Calendar rolls before being reeled up.
A working model of a Fourdrinier papermaking machine originally lent by Bertram Sciennes Ltd Edinburgh.
Until the late eighteenth century, all papermaking was carried out by hand processes. In 1799, Nicholas Louis Robert patented a papermaking machine model in France when working at Monsieur St. Leger Didot's paper mill. However, wartime conditions in France caused the country to be economically and politically unstable, so Didot allowed his brother-in-law, John Gamble to continue its development in England. It was Gamble who contacted the firm of Fourdrinier, Bloxham and Fourdrinier in Bermondsey, London, to develop the machine.
Having made improvements to the design, they appointed J. & G. Hall as the engineers, with Bryan Donkin overseeing its development. A working model was patented in 1803, and the first production machine was installed at the Fourdriniers' Frogmore Mill, Hertfordshire, in Autumn of that year, with an improved version at another of their mills, Two Waters, the following year. It soon proved that it could make paper faster and more cheaply than was possible by hand. By 1830, the majority of paper was produced by machine. Investment was substantial at over £60,000, and eventually bankrupted the Fourdriniers, although Donkin continued to make and sell the machines.
The machine you see here has four main sections to it, starting from the right hand side: the wet end, which is where the paper pulp comes into the machine in suspension as a slurry, and feeds on to a moving wire mesh belt; the press section where most of the water is removed leaving a damp paper web; the dryer section which dries the pulp as it passes over a series of steam heated rollers; and the calender section which smoothes the web of paper and gives it an uniform thickness by pressure from the rollers.
The machine produced a continuous roll for the first time, rather than individual hand made sheets, and was the forerunner of today's massive, high speed machines.