The influence of stress variations in wet pressing

Abstract: Two methods for the measurement of micro-scale stressvariations of press felt surfaces were developed. The methodswere based on a thin plastic film that was coated with anopaque stress-sensitive layer (Cronapress conversion film). Thefilm was compressed between a felt and a smooth surface. Uponapplication of load the opaque layer became partiallytransparent at the locations where load was applied by thesurface fibres of the felt. The degree of transparency was afunction of the locally applied stress. The spatial resolutionof the method was 6.3 µm, which means that even details ofthe order of the diameter of a batt fibre diameter can beresolved.Parameters characterising the stress variations were used toquantitatively describe the extent of the stress variations,the size of the contact areas and the distance between them.The applicability of these contact characterisation parameterswas evaluated in laboratory wet pressing experiments and inpilot paper machine trials for two sets of specially designedpress felts. In general, the dewatering result was mainlyinfluenced by the diameter of the felt surface batt fibres andby the web grammage. For a specific pulp type and operatingconditions a multivariate model was formulated based on themeasured web dryness, web grammage and each contactcharacterisation parameter. The model was able to describe thedewatering capability of the different felts tested. Contactcharacterisation parameters related to contact properties ( area ratio) gave the best prediction for low grammagewebs, while parameters related to flow properties (e.g. size ofopenings) gave the best prediction for high grammage webs.Furthermore it was found that at a certain web grammage, thesurface batt fibre diameter did not have an influence on thedewatering result. This grammage was termed "transitiongrammage". Below the transition grammage a fine surface gavesignificantly better dewatering, while the opposite trend wasobserved above the transition grammage. Based on these results,a modified dewatering hypothesis was formulated. Thishypothesis links the non-uniform compression of the wet webwith different dewatering situations for low and high grammagewebs.KeywordsPress felts, Roughness, Smoothness, SurfaceStructure, Uniformity, Wet pressing, Batt fibre, Base weave,Stress variations, Micro-scale.