Papermaking

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Papermaking is the process of making paper, a substance which is used ubiquitously today for writing and packaging.

In papermaking a dilute suspension of fibers in water is drained through a screen, so that a mat of randomly interwoven fibers is laid down. Water is removed from this mat of fibers by pressing and drying to make paper. Most paper is made from wood pulp, but other fiber sources such as cotton and textiles may be used.

Contents

History

Papermaking is known to have been traced back to China about 105 CE, when Cai Lun, an official attached to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE), created a sheet of paper using mulberry and other bast fibres along with fishnets, old rags, and hemp waste.[1] However a recent archaeological discovery has been reported from Gansu province of paper with legible Chinese writings on it dating from 8 BCE,[2] while paper had been used in China for wrapping and padding since the 2nd century BCE.[3] Paper used as a writing medium became widespread by the 3rd century,[4] and by the 6th century toilet paper was starting to be used in China as well.[5] During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) paper was folded and sewn into square bags to preserve the flavor of tea,[3] while the later Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) was the first government on Earth to issue paper-printed money.

In the 8th century, paper spread to the Islamic world, where the rudimentary and laborious process of papermaking was refined and machinery was designed for bulk manufacturing of paper. Production began in Baghdad under the supervision of the Grand Vizier Ja'far ibn Yahya, they invented a method to make a thicker sheet of paper. This helped transform papermaking from an art into a major industry.[6] The earliest use of water-powered mills in paper production, specifically the use of pulp mills for preparing the pulp for papermaking, dates back to Samarkand in the 8th century.[7] The earliest references to paper mills also come from the medieval Islamic world, where they were first noted in the 9th century by Arabic geographers in Damascus.[8] Papermaking was diffused across the Islamic world, from where it was diffused further west into Europe.[9]

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