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Fourdrinier Machine

Date(s)
The machine was patented in 1806, but the principles of this machine are still in use today. New paper machines were available as early as 1814, but that is because Henry Fourdrinier was unable to protect his patent, and so these new presses were very slight variations on his own.
Much like the Gordon Jobber became the grandfather of the letter press, so did the Fourdrinier machine become the grandfather of the paper making machines. Alternately called the “paper machine,” the Fourdrinier machine was invented and patented by Henry Fourdrinier in 1806. However, Fourdrinier went bankrupt inventing his machine and was unable to protect the patent. The system was used as a standard throughout his life and it was not until 1840 that he finally saw any money from it himself. The machine had four operations that resulted in a continuous rol; of paper that could then be cut to any size. In the first part, referred to as the “forming section,” pulp is distributed over a mesh conveyor belt to drain water and leave a “web” of paper. The second part is referred to as the “Press” section and it presses the web of paper between rollers to remove any excess water, before moving it along to the drying section which uses steam heated drying cylinders to dry the paper, and finally it goes into the calendar section, where it is smoothed under pressure. This process produced a long roll of paper and it could then be used for any purpose, and cut to any size. This technology gave the pamphleteer his paper, without which the pamphlet could not exist! But more importantly, this technology was foundational in the entire future of papermaking, and we still use the principles of the fourdrinier machine today. Therefore, the Fourdrinier machine introduced what would ultimately be the lasting limitations of the medium. The Fourdriner machine balances smoothness against strength, and so the smoother the paper, the less durable it is. In addition, a papermaking machine has a long lifetime, but costs a lot upfront. This means that the sort of people who can make paper are rarely the sort of people who are printing political pamphlets in their homes. The fourdrinier machine was more efficient than its predecessors and was therefore widely used after its invention, and its advantages are many – but it bears repeating that even – perhaps especially – the most standard technology comes with its limitations.
Sources
Jacob, Edge. "Cylinder machine." U.S. Patent 2,005,839, issued June 25, 1935.
Goldsmith, Philip H. "Cylinder paper machine." U.S. Patent 2,249,128, issued July 15, 1941.
Berry, Earl E. "Cylinder paper machine and method of making paper." U.S. Patent 2,083,818, issued June 15, 1937.

"Fourdrinier Machine." Digital image. Wikipedia. Accessed December 9, 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_machine#/media/File:Fourdrinier.svg.
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