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  • The origin of facial tissue may be Japanese.

  • A 17th century historical account describes Japanese blowing their noses in small soft papers, then throwing them on the ground.

  • Modern day tissues were first marketed in the early 1920s as a disposable cloth for wiping off cold cream.

  • While some sneezes still prefer traditional cloth handkerchiefs, the disposable paper tissue is the implement of choice with the sniffling and lens cleaning masses.

  • This brand is made entirely of recycled paper, specifically used computer printer paper because its short flexible fibers produce soft tissue.

  • The half ton bales go into a giant machine called the pumper.

  • It breaks up the paper into fibers and mixes them with water.

  • The result is called pulp.

  • Next it injects the pulp with air.

  • This causes the ink to detach from the fibers and cling to the air bubbles which rise to the top and drain off.

  • The machine then feeds the now ink-free pulp through several rollers.

  • Like an old-fashioned wringer washing machine, the rollers squeeze out the dirty water.

  • A screw conveyor then breaks up the pulp and moves it to the next station, which rinses it with clean water.

  • Now the pulp is ready to become tissue.

  • That transformation begins in the paper machine.

  • It injects the pulp evenly across the screen conveyor belt, then the pulp passes through rollers that press out the water.

  • The extracted water drains down through the screen.

  • The pulp then passes through a hot air dryer and exits the machine as a thin 10-foot wide sheet of paper.

  • Each jumbo roll coming off the machine contains about 37 miles of paper.

  • The converting machine is the giant contraption that now transforms this paper into tissues.

  • The first station unwinds two rolls of paper, applying modest tension to remove waves and wrinkles.

  • The next station mates the two papers producing a two-ply sheet.

  • The following station holds the sheets steady with suction, as a knife slices across at every 8.5 inches.

  • You can see the cuts in slow motion.

  • At the next station, these two-ply sheets meet up with two-ply sheets coming from the opposite direction.

  • Here's what that looks like in slow motion, and at full speed.

  • The sheets enter a mechanism that folds them in half, in an interlocking fashion.

  • In slow motion, you can see how they interlock.

  • Each sheet folded in half, one side inserted into the fold of the next sheet.

  • This happens at a speed of 16 folds per second.

  • This produces a huge stack of folded tissue five feet wide.

  • The next station separates the big stack into small ones in preparation for the final cutting.

  • Each smaller stack contains the precise number of tissues the tissue box will contain, from 80 to 250 sheets, depending on the format they're packaging.

  • The smaller stacks now travel to the next station where an automated circular saw cuts every eight inches, producing the final tissue size.

  • The interlocking folds ensure that when you pull out one tissue, it draws the next out of the box, ready to use.

  • To produce three ply tissues, the converting machine processes six rolls into two sheets of three plies each, then folds them in the same interlocking fashion.

  • The finished tissues travel by conveyor belt to the automated packaging line.

  • A robot with multiple suction cupped arms, grabs flattened boxes, one at a time, opens them, and lines them up on another conveyor belt running alongside the tissue belt.

  • An automated arm compresses the tissues and slides them into the box.

  • The next station glues the flaps closed.

  • The top of the box has a removable tab with clear plastic film underneath.

  • A tight slot in the film makes grabbing a single tissue a non-issue.

The origin of facial tissue may be Japanese.

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