Enhanced De-inking and Recyclability of Laser Printed Paper by Plasma-Assisted Fiber Coating
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Office waste paper is one of the fastest growing segments of the recycled fiber industry. Toner particles are rigid, insoluble and difficult to disperse and detach from fibers. Therefore papers made from recycled office waste having high toner content will contain noticeable ink particles. This work will consider an alternative way of efficient de-inking using plasma polymers which will not affect the fibers chemically or mechanically. The focus is development and characterization of plasma-deposited films to serve as a barrier film for the adhesion of ink toner to the paper fibers and thereby enhance ink lift off from the fibers. The plasma treated paper is coated with fluorocarbon (PFE) and polyethylene glycol (PFE) films, with constant thickness of PFE and varying the thickness of PEG by 1500, from 1500 to 4500, for the three cases studied (PFE greater than PEG, PFE=PEG, PFE less than PEG). Handsheets were made using virgin fibers to eliminate effects of fillers. Once the sheets were coated and printing performed, they were re-pulped and both the slurry and the de-inking surfactant were placed in a flotation cell. Handsheets were made from the collected foam and stock and were scanned for particle count. The results indicated higher ink loss for the cases with increased thickness of polymer films. A handsheet with a 7500 film (PFE = 3000 and PEG = 4500) showed 61% ink removal compared to 38% for handsheets with no film deposited. There was also less material loss for the cases with higher polymer film thickness.