Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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.