What is Crepe Paper?

What is Crepe Paper?

Crepe paper is paper that has a wrinkled surface that gives it qualities such as stretch, softness, and pliability. This is the opposite of how the paper industry typically describes “kraft, vellum or smooth paper”, which refers to a flatter, smoother paper. The fiber or pulp used as the base ingredients to make crepe or kraft paper can be exactly the same. The variance happens down the line in the paper making process by either calendering the kraft (pressing it between two heated rollers) to smooth it or creping (scraping) the sheet off a roll (using a blade to gather up the paper into a wrinkled surface).  

How did Crepe Paper get its name?

Crepe fabric, invented in the early 1800s, was a fabric which had a crimpled or crinkled texture through the use of embossing techniques. Naturally, crepe paper has a similar look and feel and borrowed its name from crepe fabric. The word “crepe” typically refers to things that are “wrinkled”. Even in the beauty industry, you’ll see wrinkle-reducing serums referred to as “crepe-erasing” or similar terms.

How is Crepe Paper made?

Crepe paper can be made “on-machine” (wet or dry using a blade) or “off machine” (using a blade or embossed). The way crepe paper is made depends mostly on the basis weight (heavyweight vs. lightweight) and the volumes handled by a particular manufacturer.

On-Machine Crepe Paper

On-Machine crepe paper refers to paper that is creped on a paper machine, in-line with other parts of the paper making process. This is a more efficient, cost-effective method for higher volume applications. Anything you can do in one process instead of two will cost less. The amount of stretch created depends on the machine, the basis weight, and whether it’s wet or dry.

  • Wet On-Machine crepe paper uses a blade earlier in the paper making process while there is still a lot of water in the paper. The blade scrapes the surface of the paper at an angle, creating back pressure and wrinkling the surface. It is then sent through dryers to dry it and roll it up. This is how we create our heavyweight crepe paper here at Ivex Specialty Paper.
  • Dry On-Machine crepe paper uses a blade that creates back pressure as well, but this process is performed after the paper is dried and before it is rolled up. This is the typical method used to make lightweight crepe like toilet paper and paper towels.  

Off-Machine Crepe Paper

Off-Machine crepe paper refers to paper that is done in separate process from the actual paper making. The paper is made into a roll and moved to either another line, building or entirely different company to perform the creping. This is typically the preferred method for lower volume applications. 

  • Off-machine  typically starts by wetting the paper and then running a blade over it. This is similar to on-machine wet creping, but done on a machine other than the original paper machine that the paper was formed on.
  • Embossed paper is not technically crepe paper, but is made to mimic it. It involves taking dry paper and running it through two large rolls that mash an imprint on the paper. This essentially damages the paper a bit in order to give it an artificial stretch.

Is crepe paper the same as tissue paper?

No, crepe paper and tissue paper are not the same. The term “tissue paper” can include many products made from either crepe or kraft. Products like toilet paper and paper towels are types of lightweight crepe paper that is made using an on-machine dry creping process.  

What is the difference between heavyweight and lightweight crepe paper?

When determining whether to call crepe paper “heavyweight” or “lightweight”, there is no industry standard definition, but the line is usually drawn around the 40# basis weight mark. Depending on the units used, you might hear this referred to as around 65 gsm (grams per square meter) or 3 pt (“point”). You can look up equivalent weights for your needed paper type on our Equivalent Weights Chart.

What products are made of heavyweight vs. lightweight crepe paper?

Here are some examples of different end use applications and industries utilizing heavyweight vs. lightweight crepe paper.

Heavyweight crepe paper products:

  • Bag Closure – a narrow strip of heavyweight crepe paper is sewn over the opening of a bag to seal it. The stretch in the crepe allows it to be sewn through where a non-crepe paper would tear. Example products include charcoal bags, dog food bags and more.
  • Filtering – filter paper is heavyweight crepe paper that filters liquids such as oil or grease. Crepeing creates more surface area, which can be beneficial in filter applications.  These papers could be used as part of a manufacturing process, in deep fryers in commercial kitchens and more.
  • Packaging – crepe’s flexibility is great for wrapping around odd-shaped products to provide cushion and a barrier. It’s often used for high-cost manufactured products such as auto parts. 

Lightweight crepe paper products:

  • Toilet paper – creping gives toilet paper its stretch and softness.
  • Paper towels – Like toilet paper, this is often multiple layers (i.e. 2-ply, 3-ply, etc.) of crepe paper. The creping process creates more surface area or bulk, thereby increasing absorbency.
  • Party streamers – this crepe paper is often so thin its transparent and gives that fun, crinkly look in bright colors. They’re great for party decorations.
  • Medical exam table paper – this is the paper you often find yourself sitting on at the doctor’s office.

How much does crepe paper cost?

Paper has so many variables that drive cost including the type of pulp used, basis weight, color, volume, coatings and more. If you’re interested in heavyweight crepe paper, feel free to contact us. If we don’t make it, we’ll help you find someone who does.