Starches provide cost-effective solutions to improve the quality and processability of paper and cardboard. The paper and cardboard industry uses various types of starches at different stages of the production process for various purposes.

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Paper industry

Starches from corn, potatoes, and tapioca are most commonly used in paper production. These starches play a significant role in three main stages of the manufacturing process:
  1. At the end of wet processing, starch is added to increase paper strength, impart body, and enhance resistance to abrasion and folding.
  2. In the sizing stage, starch is applied to one or both sides of paper or cardboard to improve final finishing, appearance, strength, and printing properties.
  3. In coating operations, starch serves as a coating agent and adhesive for applying pigment coating to paper.
Cationic starch may be added to pulp to enhance dry strength, increase retention of fine particles and fillers, or a combination of both effects. Its positive charge attracts negative charges on paper fibers and fine particles, leading to better starch retention in the paper base. Oxidized starch is often used as a surface sizing agent and coating binder.

Adhesives for cardboard

Adhesives represent the second largest application of non-food starches globally. Starch adhesives are mostly based on unmodified native starches with additives such as borax and caustic soda. A portion of the starch is gelatinized to form a slurry of uncooked starch and prevent sedimentation. This opaque adhesive is called SteinHall adhesive. It is applied to the tips of flutes, where fluted paper is pressed onto linerboard. Subsequently, it is dried at high temperatures, causing the remaining uncooked starch in the adhesive to swell and gelatinize. This process creates a fast-acting and strong adhesive for corrugated board production.