City Science Quest - International Paper Box mission – Atlanta Science Festival

City Science Quest

International Paper “Boxes are Essential” Mission

To give you an idea of what happens at an International Paper Container facility, here is a brief summary.

Trees – While International Paper uses some recycled material for box production, at one point, the paper used to make a box started life as a tree. Typically, the trees IP uses for box manufacturing are softwood trees such as pine trees. The reason they are chosen is that they have long fibers, which produce a very strong box.  They also grow quickly, making a sustainable fiber source for years to come.

Pulp – Wood chips are made from the trees. These wood chips are then broken down into pulp. This can be done through grinding the wood against a stone or chemically cooking the wood chips. The chemical cooking process, called kraft pulping, uses sodium sulphate to dissolve the lignin that holds the fibers together.  This type of pulp produces very high tensile strength fibers which make a very strong paper for boxes.  For most boxes, the pulp is left the brown color of the original fiber. However, it can also be bleached to create a white appearance.

Paper & Corrugation – Rolls of paper made from the dried pulp are fed through a corrugated roller, which flutes or ruffles the paper. The type of box being made will determine the level of fluting required, the weight of inner and outer plies and the amount and type of glue used to make the box.  The machines that combine paper and corrugated material into a box are called corrugators.  These machines can produce boxes at speeds up to 1200 feet per minute or 13 miles per hour!

Cutting – Now that we have a complete corrugated board sandwich, it is time to cut the board to size.  Many of the machines used to make boxes are operated by computers that are programmed to cut the cardboard to scale automatically, depending on the customer’s requirements.

Assembly – Assembly will depend on the requirements of the box. The use of flaps and slots may be best for businesses who want to construct their boxes on demand. Boxes built with tape are often easy to be constructed and can remain folded until needed, like moving boxes.  Glue and stitching are used to fold sections together and keep the box secure for boxes requiring very high strength.

Shipping – Boxes are placed on large pallets and shipped to customers, who then use them to ship goods all over the world.

As you can see throughout the process, STEM is an essential part of everything we do at International Paper! Now, return to the GooseChase app for details on how to complete your mission.

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