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From Pulping to Printing – A story of Treesearch Meet at Billingsfors
Picture by Marzieh Zabihipour
Picture by Marzieh Zabihipour

On the 30th of October 2019, the group of Printed and Paper Electronics (TPE) at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics (LOE) and members from RISE went on a study visit to the Ahlstrom-Munksjö pulp and paper mill of Billingsfors. A three day visit to follow the process from collecting raw material from the forest to performing advanced printing techniques.

It all began on an early Monday morning with cars departing from Campus Norrköping heading 150 km west to Billingsfors, west of lake Vänern. We started driving from Norrköping and picked up our local guide Patrik Isacsson (industrial PhD student Ahlstrom-Munksjö & LiU) at Kristinehamn. We got to Billingsfors and had lunch at the local pizzeria before getting to the mill for an introduction of the company and sustainable forestry in Sweden.  After the presentation we got our raincoats and headed out in the forest to experience a logging site. The more experienced forest visitors changed shoes into sturdy waterproof shoes while others decided that white sneakers would be enough. We had no idea that we were heading on muddy temporary roads through marshy terrains into the deepest of forests.

“It was a long drive, but I’m glad we could get there and watch a felling in action as well as see forests in different ages. This gave the opportunity to discuss questions about forestry, sustainability and environmental concern with hands-on examples and, not at least, the importance of the starting raw material” says Patrik Isacsson.

After some translation confusions regarding reservations at the restaurant called Den galna tuppen we suddenly realized it was closed this Monday evening, so we ended up buying food at the local grocery and cooking our newly picked mushrooms collected during the forest excursion. Some of us got to spend the night in the thrilling ghost mansion Mässen and experienced a noisy night with creaking floors and doors that unlocked themselves, and the others went to a rather chilly but cozy hotel in Bengtsfors. The next day we went to the pulp and paper mill to see the process of massive logs entering the mill, getting crushed and boiled into pieces to be transformed into pulp and paper. The pulp mill manager gave us a good tour of the kraft pulping process and review of the specialty of this pulp mill, the electrotechnical pulp. In the paper mill, the process engineer explained the principles of the paper making process with a special demonstration of the production of the thin paper as well as the pre-impregnated Spantex paper. After the mill tour we drove towards Ed to have a look at some really amazing printing machines.

“For a group dedicated to paper and printed electronics, we thought it was well worth half an hour’s drive from the mill to visit the UTECO coater and printer in Ed. With some advanced equipment, this machine is able to create multilayer structures with good alignment. I was really happy about the interesting discussions following this visit.” says Patrik Isacsson.

The evening was spent at the ghost mansion together with the R&D team of Billingsfors where we were served a delicious three course dinner by a personal chef and got the opportunity to discuss future collaborations and visionary ideas of printing and paper electronics. The last day of our site visit started at the development Lab where we got to see the different analysis tools for evaluating quality of paper and got to produce our own sheets of paper using industrial techniques and equipment. We ended with a wrap up of what we had learned during the study visit and got another delicious meal from Mässen before we once again got into the cars and headed back home to Norrköping.

¨It was great fun to experience the entire process of paper making. From riding a super powerful tree-cutting machine that converts tall trees into tiny chunks of wood (in not more than 5 seconds) to making various types of paper from pulp with own hands. Quite amazing to learn the company´s applications in many areas, for example, electrotechnical insulation, furniture and decoration, textile industry and food packaging. ¨ says Marzieh Zabihipour (PhD student at Linköping University)

On behalf of the TPE-group at LOE and members of RISE: Thank you Ahlstrom-Munksjö and Billingsfors for receiving us with such hospitality, we really appreciated the visit and learned a lot! A special thanks to Patrik Isacsson for organizing the study visit and making sure we got good value for our long roadtrip!


/written by Jenny Joensuu (Project Coordinator of LOE and Deputy Director of Treesearch) 2019-11-15

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