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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #912: Setterholm, Vance C. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (February 18, 2008)

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00:24:28 - 00:28:06 Papermaking

papermaking

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00:24:28

BW

Well, that all sound really good. It seems like you really were very passionate about this. Were there any projects or particular jobs that you did, that you found extra challenging?

VS

Were there any what?

BW

Were there any projects that you work on that you found extra challenging?

VS

Projects that were extra challenging. Well, I guess they were all - the whole business is challenging. The - let me think a minute. Yeah, towards the end of our research I started looking into the possibility of making sheets of paper with a highly directional character. In other words, trying to line up fibers such that I could maximize the [tensil] strength, by changing the fiber orientation and controlling it under fluid manufacturing conditions. That's a tough, tough assignment because, first of all because paper is made of a variety of lengths, widths, and diameters, and flexibility of fibers. So how do you make these rascals line up? We tried inducing electrical forces that would cause [?]. We tried physical forces. We tried something that hadn't been done yet, which I think is going to be the ultimate key to paper making, and that is to make paper without water, without drying the fibers, so that once they're dry the hydroxyl is prolapsed to the parent fiber. It's very difficult to make [?]. But if you could suspend fibers in high humidity, saturated moisture, and mechanically combine them, then they could be press dried without squeezing any water out - wouldn't that be marvelous? And yet be of the same strength as conventionally made paper. It has great environmental possibilities and energy savings. But that was really a challenge and so we built a number of chambers and worked at vacuum suction means for grabbing fibers out of the air and trying to align them and control them, yet without losing any moisture before we got it into sheet form to press dry. But challenges - people challenges are almost as great as the material.

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