In the span of a semester, the average student spends $10 on printing fees. At least that is what the school thinks and allows for our printing budget. The Art Department holds the definite exception to this set cost. Between printing, painting, and drawing, the Art Department’s specialty paper required cost much more than average printing paper.
Luckily, the Paper Science and Engineering Departments have reached a breakthrough to eventually lower this cost and help out art students along the way.
"Essentially the paper we’ve created is a clone of the special paper that the art students use for painting, drawing, etc. The difference is that we can sell this paper for half of the charge because you don’t have any overhead charge or shipment from China. Anything that can be made locally is always better," said Kurt Oleszko, a paper science major who contributed to the development of this paper.
Coming out of the Navy, Oleszko decided he’d find the most challenging thing he could do. Since the majority of his family is on different levels of the paper industry, he became interested in this major. Because of his experience and passion, he has been operating the paper machine in the Science Building for three years now. Some students have the opportunity to operate this machine, but it is a process and not many are allowed to for safety reasons.
Students got the rare opportunity to develop a replica of the art paper when Bob Erickson, a printing professor, began talks with the Paper Science Department. Ever since, the Paper Science Department and Art Department have been going back and forth testing the quality of the paper and trying to get it as exact as possible.
"What’s neat is that we have the ability to communicate with the Art Department to get instant feedback. If they don’t want as much water intrusion in their paper, we can do that with a flip of a switch," Oleszko said. "Every paper has different ingredients (furnishes) that go into it, so it’s just finding the right mix."
These furnishes require a lot of knowledge in soft and hard pulp, or the trees they come from. If you have this knowledge, you can actually apply to work the paper machine.
"We take applicants to run this machine, just like any other job on campus. It’s a big operation to keep up because the maintenance on this $7 million machine is roughly $50,000-$100,000 per year," said Don Guay, associate professor of the Paper Science and Engineering Department.
The bulk of the money for this maintenance is self-generated. Doing different testing for companies, selling paper for education courses, and selling paper through the Printing and Design Department are just a few examples of how they gain these revenues.
Considering that UWSP is one of the few in the country that has a paper science major, education courses for this machine are in high demand. A large hope for the future is that this new creation will bring in some extra revenue for the Paper Science Department.
"The goal is to have a small market where only a couple of days’ production would produce enough of this drawing paper to supply the entire demand at this campus and eventually the entire UW System," Guay said. "In the age of declining budgets, anything to help universities and maintain equipment would be a win."