Paper for every purpose

There have been so many changes in the world of paper since the first days of development to the point where there is now a paper for every possible purpose.

Paper is normally assessed within two different areas; its technological qualities and its usage. In terms of the relevant technological qualities, these include: the raw materials used to create the paper which give it a greater or lesser quality; thickness; colour; collation; tensile and tear strength; weight; size and watermark. The paper is then also classified as fine, common or coarse.

When it comes to usage, if you can use the paper to write or draw it is referred to as an impression paper, whereas if it is absorbent it is called a non-coliated paper (also suitable for napkins or small linen items). If the paper is used for packaging then it becomes known as a wrapping paper. There are also some special types of paper which provide different and unusual finishes for bespoke items such as photo sensitive papers, charcoal, oiled, coated, metallic, parchment, wax, laminated, flockage and stained glass.

One of the most special types of paper is the one which is used for printing paper money. Until recently, most bank notes were made from cotton paper with a weight of 80 to 90 grams per square metre. The cotton is sometimes mixed with linen, abaca or other textile fibres to make it more resilient than normal paper and also infused with polyvinyl alcohol or gelatin to give it extra strength. 

As well as this very particular paper, a special process is used to make paper money to ensure that it is hard to copy. A watermark and thread are incorporated as a security component, comprising fluorescent, magnetic, metallic and micro print elements and coatings are used to reduce the accumulation of dirt on the note.

Of course, our £5 and £10 bank notes are now made from a plastic material called polymer which is cleaner, more secure and longer-lasting so it may just be a matter of time until our special paper money becomes a thing of the past.