Research and development - North America

​Investing in groundbreaking research and development

At Sappi, we believe that the key to profitable, sustainable development is customer focused innovation in both our products and our processes. Globally, over 25 percent of our R&D spend is dedicated to our 'Exciter' program, which focuses on the development of breakthrough technology platforms. The bulk of R&D spend in the United States of America is dedicated to product development and innovation efforts.

The Technology Center in Westbrook (Maine), is the center of our R&D operations in North America. It houses approximately 50 technicians, engineers and scientists whose goals are to discover and implement new products, optimize current product quality and improve product cost in support of not only Sappi North America operations, but global initiatives as well.

Scientists at the Technology Center bring a diverse set of skills and a unique depth of knowledge to their work. Chemists, engineers and physicists work alongside polymer, environmental and materials scientists to support the release papers, packaging and coated papers business units. Past and present employees of the Technology Center are the proud inventors of over 250 patents that have helped Sappi and the customers we serve maintain a competitive edge for years.

 
Working on tomorrow’s solutions

Current R&D work is exploring ways to leverage the entire tree for new and improved bioderived materials. Some portions of the tree, if processed correctly, are pound-for-pound stronger than steel, and can be used for many applications like high strength composites, adhesives and the production of biobased chemicals.

Global R&D edge

Our research and development units operate in three distinct geographies with varying areas of expertise. Sappi Europe focuses on fiber characterization, wet end chemistry, multilayer coating and operational excellence. Sappi Southern Africa concentrates on forestry, land management, pulping technology (including kraft, viscose and acetate) and fiber processing. Sappi North America drives innovation in coating chemistry, filler technology, ink and paper interaction, unique finishing and radiation curling. Together we form a global network able to bring the new and different to our customers with speed.

Sappi North America/S D Warren Company developments and research contributions

1872 - Devised and invented sand filter to clarify water

1879 - Produced first machine coated paper, coated one side

1881 - Produced first machine made, two-side coated, commercial printing paper

1900 - Identification by Dr Sutermeister of alum as the cause of deterioration of paper manufactured with wood pulp

1903 - Patented wood pulping process that increased fiber yield and reduced material and energy consumption

1903 - Developed the first dull coated paper. Patented Warren Cameo in 1903 and the idea of branded paper was born

1929 - Developed air knife coating principle for paper

1942 - Developed wet strength paper for military maps

1944 - Developed release paper for plastics

1945 - First use of synthetic latex as paper coating binder

1947 - First pre-sensitized printing plate in the US

1948 - First double coated (two layers) printing paper

1950 - First cast coated paper

1954 - First commercially manufactured alkaline paper

1954 - Patented and licensed the use of synthetic elastomers (latexes) in paper coatings

1958 - Developed inline resilient roll calendering

1965 - Developed and patented the automatic finishing machine for sheeting paper and stacking inline

1970 - First high bulk to weight coated paper – Warrenflo

1978 - Modified a paper machine for inline coater and soft calendar

1979 - Developed and patented high solids blade coating technology

1980 - Developed Ultracast (ability to impart high fidelity micro textures on paper

1982 - Dedicated Somerset PM1 – fundamentally changing the publishing business

1982 - Started up biomass power boiler at Westbrook Mill

1990 - Developed advanced online calendering method – Substrata Thermal Molding patent

1993 - Introduced LusterPrint

1997 - Introduced Opus

1998 - Introduced McCoy

2000 - Developed co-pulping technology and introduced Somerset Synergy

2003 - Patented improved calender roll rotary joint technology

2007 - Introduced Flo

2010 - Granted first of two patents for texturing powder coatings for metal surfaces

2010- Developed Mokka technology to create a finely engraved release paper feature which provides extraordinary hand feel and natural-worn softness to synthetic leathers

2011 - Patented innovative web curing technology for textured laminates

2013 - Dedicated Cloquet pulp mill upgrade and entered dissolving wood pulp business

2014 - Created new Specialty Packaging group and developed LusterCote

2016 - Entered agreement to manufacture and distribute casting and release paper featuring the ground-breaking Sharklet™ Technologies, Inc. bacteria-inhibiting microtexture 

Technology is at the heart of our business – discover how we’re making breakthroughs and discoveries that enrich lives.

The Westbrook Technology Center is a research and development location that houses approximately 50 technicians, engineers and scientists.

Discover everything you need to know about our flagship Sappi Technology Centre in Pretoria – a source of innovation for over 50 years.