This past Friday I was fortunate enough to be invited to join TCC Printing and their xpedx rep for a tour of Grays Harbor Paper Mill. Since I'm not that great at explaining mechanical things in detail, I'll show a bunch of photos I took.
After a 2ish hour drive, we arrived at the mill:
TCC's owner Michael told us all a good reason to never use Imitation Vanilla. Apparently, when he was last at the paper mill (about 20 years ago) there was an imitation vanilla plant right next door, feeding off the waste of the paper making process. Gross! Glad I buy real vanilla :)
Moving on... We walked around and saw the outside of the mill and their fuel pile (aka Hog Fuel), which was made up of sawdust and woodchips leftover from the logging process. But it was cold and rainy, so no photos!
Once we returned to the warmth of the inside of the mill, we first stopped in the control room:
Looks complicated! From there, we went to get our first glance at the giant paper machines. One was from the 1920s and the other was from the 1960s:
From there, we were allowed to climb up onto the machine and even touch some of the pulp:
From this stage, the paper dries and runs through a whole lot of rollers:
And finally, at the end of the machine the paper all makes it onto one huge roll:
Before ending up as either sheets or a roll, the paper goes through the calendaring process to stregnthen the sheet and make it smoother:
From there, it goes on to its final form, either a less-giant roll, or into sheets:
Once paper is sheeted and measured into reams, it eventually gets put into cartons. Then the cartons go down various conveyer belts to get automatically arranged on palettes. I thought they kindof looked like little soldiers marching one by one:
And thats pretty much where my photos end. It was definitely an interesting trip! I learned all about the paper making process while in school, but it was nice to finally see it all first hand. Thanks TCC and xpedx!