WMU to unveil pilot paper manufacturing machine unique to North America

KALAMAZOO—Western Michigan University President Edward Montgomery and representatives from 28 paper industry partners will join faculty and students at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 16, at WMU’s Parkview Campus for the unveiling of a pilot-scale multi-ply paper manufacturing machine that is the only one of its kind in North America.

The machine, donated from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, enables WMU to test and develop two-ply paper used in a wide variety of products, according to Lon Pschigoda, general manager of WMU Pilot Plants. Servicing industry clients from around the world, the WMU operation provides an outlet for companies to test new paper types, fibers, chemistries and equipment on a smaller scale, without having to interrupt their own production lines.

“Eighty to 90 percent of the time the machine will be used to conduct research, to run trials,” Pschigoda said. “It’s a great place to make a mistake or test a new product. You can make many more iterations per day on our small system and collect much more data in a shorter period of time.”

Dating back to 1968, the new-to-WMU machine replaces an older model the university used when its College of Engineering and Applied Sciences was based in McCracken Hall on WMU’s main campus. That machine was installed in 1958. During its yearlong installation process in WMU’s Paper Coating Pilot Plant in the Parkview Campus, the newer machine has been upgraded with many pieces of modern technology to help with trial efficiency and real-world learning for students.

Companies expected to be represented at the event include Domtar, Voith, USG, Solenis, Suzano, Pro Services, Loparex, Verso, ABB, Sonoco, Ecosynthetix, Trinseo, Graphic Packaging, New Indy Paper, WestRock, Kemira and Kadant.

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