The History of Synthetic Paper

The History of Synthetic Paper

Japan's high-level economic growth led to a rapid increase for the demand for paper. Uneasiness about the future availability of pulp resources combined with the optimism regarding the future of petrochemical industry led to the May 1968 publication of Recommendations Regarding the Fostering of the Synthetic-Paper Industry by the Resources Council of the then Science and Technology Agency of Japan. This paper led to a major synthetic paper boom among related companies. Several dozen companies devoted resources to research and development, designing a variety of production methods. As a result of these endeavors, six companies began commercial production of film synthetic paper.

However, the synthetic paper of the early days had weaknesses in its printing and processing capabilities. With synthetic paper still being tested for various applications and not yet having an important place in the market, the two oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 immediately changed market conditions. The cost of petrol and petrochemical products increased considerably and the demand for paper failed to grow due to economic stagnation. It was a serious blow to synthetic paper and many companies retreated from the market.

Having survived such dramatic changes, the synthetic paper market developed as a few manufacturers in Japan and the world focused on the development of niche markets for synthetic paper of greater application and with unique qualities. Synthetic paper with the properties of both paper and resin-film material matured as a product with multiple applications as it gained new functions, and it came to be known as a material that could take on some of the roles of high-quality paper.

In recent years it has also been used for applications that do not involve printing, and it has expanded into the area of special resin film that does not fit into the definition of synthetic paper. With the arrival of new manufacturers into the market, the further development of synthetic paper is expected.

Click here for the development history of YUPO synthetic paper.