If you like to grab a coffee on your way to the office, the chances are it’s served in a disposable paper cup. Like many everyday objects that appear deceptively simple, the paper cup is actually a precision-made piece of engineering, designed to be insulated, safe, sturdy, long lasting and completely watertight. Here’s how it’s done:
Paper cups are made from a special grade of paper called ‘cup board’. The board is made from several layers of paper, to keep it stiff and strong even when wet. The board also needs to be supple enough to be rolled into shape. Paper cups feature a ‘mouth roll’, which is a rolled edge around the rim. This not only feels more comfortable for the drinker, but also helps keep the cup rigid and in the correct shape.
The paper cups start life as one large roll of paper. One side is coated with a layer of plastic or wax, which provides a waterproof barrier and becomes the inside of the cup. Then, the rolls are printed with any logos, designs or colours required to feature on the finished product. The rolls is cut into pieces by machine to make individual cups, which are then heat sealed. Circles of paper are also machine cut then heat sealed into place for the bottom of the cup.
Originally, before modern manufacturing methods, paper cups were glued together. To make them last longer, a method had to be found of waterproofing them. This was done by dropping a small amount of clay in the bottom, which was spread up the sides via centrifugal force. Unfortunately, this had the unwanted side effect of tainting the drink, so the process of using a layer of wax or plastic instead was developed, which also helps weld the seams together.
To browse our wide range of paper cups, suitable for hot drinks such as coffee, please visit our paper cups section.