Home > Biology > Testing Paper for Strength

Testing Paper for Strength

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 11 Apr 2018 |
 
Paper Paper Towels Tissues Printing

Paper is used for a great many things, from paper towels and tissues through sheets of paper for printing at home or work, to special paper for banknotes, and each different use needs a different kind of paper with different properties. Manufacturers have to test their paper for these properties, and one is ‘tensile strength’, the strength of the paper, both wet and dry.

Testing It Out

Make sure that the samples that you are testing for strength are all the same size – one way to do this is to stretch the piece of paper over a circular frame used for embroidery. If wetting the paper, use the same amount for each test, and give it time to soak in.

To test for strength, put small weights (perhaps coins) on the paper one at a time and record the type of paper, whether it’s tested wet or dry, and how much weight the paper can hold before tearing. Think about what the paper is designed for – does the strength match up to the purpose?

Paper Towels

As these are designed for mopping things up, test them for strength when they are wet as well as when they are dry. Try different brands – are the cheapest own-brand or basic paper towels the weakest, and does the strength of the towels match up with the advertising? Are they stronger when they are wet or dry? Does it make any difference whether it is recycled or not? Try this with tissues as well - does it make a difference whether the tissues are two ply or three ply?

Paper Bags

Use pieces of paper cut out of different kinds of paper bags. Is white paper any stronger than brown paper?

Writing and Printing Paper

Try different kinds of paper designed for different kinds of writing, drawing and printing.

Papers to test:

  • Paper from an exercise book
  • Good quality writing paper
  • Recycled lined paper
  • Non-recycled lined paper
  • Sketch pad paper
  • Newspaper
  • Magazine paper
  • Printer paper
Make some recycled homemade paper (see ‘The Science of Recycling’) – how strong is this compared with bought paper?

What Happens?

Paper is made from interlocking fibres that are originally from wood. Overall, recycled paper isn’t as strong as paper made from new wood pulp (known as virgin paper), because the fibres become shorter each time the paper is recycled. Paper can be recycled about five to seven times, but usually some new wood pulp is added during the recycling process to make the paper stronger.

Some paper towels have extra chemicals added to them to improve their wet strength and how much water they absorb. This should mean that they will hold more weight before breaking than the more basic brands.

Paper bags have to be strong enough to take the weight of the goods inside – so a small paper bag designed for 100 g of sweets won’t be as strong as a paper bag for grocery shopping.

With paper for writing and printing, generally the cheaper quality paper will have less strength. Paper for newspapers has to be cheap enough to keep the cost of an individual paper down, and only has to last for one day (does leaving newspaper out in the sun for a couple of days change its strength?) Magazines tend to cost more and are more likely to be kept for days or weeks, so need to be on stronger paper.

Printer paper has to be strong enough to withstand the stresses of being pulled through an inkjet or laser printer at home or in the office.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
:) if onlyit had more information that would be great
jules - 23-Jan-17 @ 3:24 PM
I am a student of mechanical engineer from malaysia, of University of Malaysian Technology (UTM). I was assigned by my professor that develop a working prototype of a vehicle by using paper, only a4 paper of 70gsm. Hope could get some experience or advice from you guys. Thank you.
Mugi - 2-Mar-16 @ 5:23 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Tee
    Re: Vibrations: Seeing and Feeling Sound
    I have just witnessed a fork vibrating so fast on its own on the kitchen top. It made a sound while vibrating as if the…
    24 August 2019
  • simran panaich
    Re: Soap and Detergent Chemistry
    thnx!! It helped me a lot !!! THank YOu so much
    6 June 2019
  • Mar2
    Re: Why Oil and Water Don't Mix
    I am doing this as a demo for homogeneous mixture examples. It really helps, it is interesting, and thank you so much for it!!!
    5 June 2019
  • COOL STUDENT
    Re: Why Oil and Water Don't Mix
    Why does the food coloring mix with the water i did not quite get iy
    31 May 2019
  • EMILY BAKER
    Re: Looking at Soil Profiles
    This thing is stupid. I am a doctor and I know better then you do! I will do something about this website if you don’t change the…
    25 May 2019
  • Alice Picello
    Re: Looking at Soil Profiles
    THIS DIDN’T TEACH ME ANYTHING ON SOIL PROFILES
    25 May 2019
  • Rea
    Re: Making an Emulsion
    I have always wondered about the Earth. My teacher gave us this website to read about why water and oil don't mix. I started looking around on…
    16 May 2019
  • Candytashy
    Re: Looking at Soil Profiles
    Thanks so much for this post .it really helped me .made my homework much easier and l have learnt a lot from this post
    25 March 2019
  • Rajput
    Re: Pulling and Pushing: Magnetic Attraction
    Kya kisi chemical ko copper me mix karne se iron or steel ko push kiya ja sakte hai. Yadi ho to formula batye.
    25 March 2019
  • AT LIFE
    Re: Soap and Detergent Chemistry
    Thanks you so much because you help different students especially science who went be a perfect a part of chemistry
    22 March 2019