Paper Technologist

Paper technologists are responsible for controlling the processes involved in the conversion of raw materials such as wood and bagasse (the dry refuse from sugar making) into pulp, paper, cardboard and related products, which are in turn converted to final products such as books, boxes, etc.

Paper technologists are involved in:

  • the processes to manufacture pulp from raw materials
  • supplying the chemicals for the various processes
  • the design, manufacture and operation of the paper machines
  • paper and board making
  • converting and coating
  • research and development
  • project management.
Paper technologists apply their knowledge of chemical and mechanical engineering and paper factory technology to these processes to ensure high standards of quality in the final product.

In the basic pulping and paper-manufacturing process, paper technologists are responsible for various tasks described below:

Debarked logs of wood are converted into mechanical pulp, usually known as “ground wood”. To obtain chemical pulp, wood chips or bagasse are digested by means of a chemical solution and steam is used to remove the lignin, which cements the fibres together. The cellulose fibres that are obtained may be bleached in order to produce “white” paper, or used in its unbleached form to yield “brown” paper.

Wastepaper is another raw material with which paper technologists work. Before it can be re-used, impurities such as printing ink must be removed. This can be done by separating the fibres in a pulper, followed by an intensive cleaning and screening operation.

Paper technologists control the final finishing process in the manufacture of the paper. Depending on the use of the end product, surface sising is then applied in a size press. Further finishing is done by passing the paper web through a calendar stack, in order to polish the surface, after which it is wound into a “Jumbo” reel of several tons.

The surface quality of the paper can be even further improved by applying a coating mix to the paper in a coating machine. The paper may then be super calendared to give it the required gloss. Jumbo reels are rewound, slit and/or cut to the customers’ requirements. Packed reels and reams are then dispatched to the customer.

Personal Requirements

  • scientific and mechanical aptitude
  • interest in mechanics
  • able to reason analytically
  • versatile and practical

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution has its own entry requirements.


What to Study

Degree: BSc Wood Science - US

Diploma: N.Dip: Pulp and Paper Technology - UNISA. Wood Technology - NMMU.


  • paper manufacturers
  • packaging manufacturers
  • self-employment, as a consultant or start own manufacturing business

Further Information

Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa
Unit 4, Woodview Office Park
1 Humber Road
Woodmead, Sandton
Tel: (011) 803-5063

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a paper manufacturing company
  • speak to a paper technologist about this career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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