Laser ultrasonics (LUS) is a non-contact, non-destructive method we have applied to analysis of paper mechanical properties. Ultrasound can be used to probe tensile and bending stiffness and other mechanical properties in paper. These properties correlate with the speed of ultrasonic plate waves along the paper sheet. A measurement of the time-of-flight of an ultrasonic wave over the known distance between two detection points permits determination of the propagation velocity.
To date, in order to measure stiffness using ultrasonic techniques, industry analysts have relied on measurements on samples cut from the ends of large paper rolls because measurements cannot be made on the moving sheet in the papermaking machine. Excess fiber is therfore used in papermaking to ensure that minimum stiffness specs are maintained. Otherwise, a roll of paper weighing several tons may be recycled or sold as an inferior grade if it does not meet stiffness specifications. A monitor of paper stiffness installed on the papermaking machine would allow real-time feedback control of the papermaking process, resulting in valuable savings in feedstock and energy.