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.
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.
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 curing. Together we form a global network able to bring the new and different to our customers with speed.
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