Providing worldwide interlaboratory testing since 1971


CTS Paper Program History

The ubiquitous nature of paper and paper products belies the accurate and precise testing that must be conducted to ensure the suitability of paper for even routine applications. The wide range of paper types and properties to be tested only add to the complexities of the industry. The diversity of the industry is reflected in the many industry and government groups, products and analyses that have shaped the Paper and Paperboard Interlaboratory Program since its initiation.

In April 1969, the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST) and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) developed an interlaboratory program for paper and paperboard testing. While we usually trace the roots of the program back to this first bimonthly TAPPI Collaborative Reference Program for Paper, the government’s interest in paper stretched back much further. As is often the case, this interest was driven by necessity. The work in 1969 built on a legacy of standards and testing of paper filters used in WWI gas masks. While the interlaboratory program had little to do with this application, it is no accident that the TAPPI Program is considered one of the first modern, large-scale interlaboratory surveys.

Modern readers of the first report would see many familiar “friends.” Of the 10 original tests, nine are still active in some form in the current program: Bursting Strength, Tearing Strength, Tensile Strength, Gurley Porosity (Air Resistance), Sheffield Smoothness (Roughness), Opacity, Directional Brightness, Diffuse Brightness and Gloss. Only IGT Pick Strength is no longer offered. The program already contained the two-sample statistical design; the samples offered were a coated 70lb. lithograph offset and an uncoated 60lb. book offset. But there have indeed been several changes over the last 40 years. It appears that originally all the paper for the tests was supplied by Champion Paper. All of the reporting laboratories used the Martin Sweets (GE) instrument for brightness, and pendulum (constant rate of load, CRL) tensile testers outnumbered load cell (constant rate of elongation, CRE) testers by a 40 to 30 margin.

The program grew quickly: by the start of 1973, there were 22 tests offered. By 1974 the survey was split into 3 parts, each conducted in the same month – Part A for Strength, Part B for Physical and Sheet Properties and Part C for Optical Properties. Later in 1976, the format was changed to accommodate Strength Tests in the “S” program and General Tests in the “G” program. Later still, the programs were offered in alternating months.

In the same era, 1974 to 1976, a joint program with England’s PIRA (then, Paper Industry Research Association) was initiated to “cover a number of analyses that are known to be important but at this time have only limited interest among participants in the program.” These reports combined results from both groups in a diverse array of analyses, 11 in all, such as Beach Puncture resistance, Schopper Folding endurance, K&N Ink Absorbency and Ring Crush. Also included were eight US and six English labs using the new Parker Printsurf Roughness method. Ring Crush testing of linerboard was included in the program for eight years, despite its being the only linerboard test offered; eventually the test was moved to the Containerboard Program. Following on this tradition of tests for packaging materials, in 1981 the Fiber Box Association (FBA) co-sponsored a program for Flat Crush Strength, Bursting Strength and Edgewise Compression of corrugated boards.

In addition, between 1985 and 1990 CTS operated a program specifically for Proctor & Gamble (P&G) laboratories which included a wide array of consumer paper products – including disposable diapers and their components, kitchen tissues, facial tissues and bath tissues. Although these tests were never incorporated into the regular program, the P&G program spurred further Paper program expansion. Newsprint testing was incorporated into the program in 1991, with the assistance of members of the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA). And the Recycled Paperboard Trade Association (RPTA) joined with CTS to offer testing to its members in 1993 and 1995. After these years of expansion and outreach, more than 250 laboratories world-wide were involved in a program that began in April 1969 with fewer than 75 labs and 10 properties.

With hundreds of organizations from around the world today participating in these tests, this program has become one of the largest of its kind. Most importantly, the CTS Paper and Paperboard Program achieves two critical objectives: it allows laboratories to compare the performance of their testing with that of other laboratories, and provides a realistic picture of the state of paper testing for TAPPI’s technical committees.
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Collaborative Testing Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 650820, Sterling, Virginia, USA 20165-0820
Phone: 1-571-434-1925