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Printing on paper made from stone: Introducing PEBBLE PRINTING GROUP

Paper as we know it in the printing and publishing industry is usually made from trees.

When I came across Pebble Printing Group and the fact that they are printing on stone paper I was surprised to learn that paper can be produced from stones. It was the first time I heard about it and the fact that stone paper has a much lower carbon footprint than traditional paper made me curious.

In order to learn more about the product specifications and its use as a printing material I asked Hunter Bliss, founder of Pebble Printing Group, to answer a few questions and give some insight.



What exactly is pebble printing? Pebble printing refers to printing done on a material called stone paper. Stone paper has a few unique aspects that require special printing treatments, so we've made it our specialty. We also develop very unique printing technologies like using recycled fabrics in our binding and water soluble inks to increase recyclability of traditional printing materials. The ultimate goal of Pebble Printing Group is to develop the market's most sustainable printing technologies.


When did you come up with the idea to produce paper from stones? What triggered it?

We don't actually produce the paper from stones ourselves. Stone paper was invented around 20 years ago in Taiwan. It was invented out of a need for an environmentally friendly material that doesn't waste precious resources like trees and water. Since then, it's been a very slow process of growing the supply, which today is far less than 1% of the traditional paper supply globally. It's part of Pebble's job to raise awareness of the material and grow the supply internationally. I personally discovered the and developed the first printing jobs using the material while I was working in business development at a printing house in Shenzhen, which led to me creating my own company dedicated to stone paper.

How is stone paper different from traditional paper made from trees?

Stone paper doesn't use any trees, water, and has a 70% lower carbon footprint in production than traditional paper. It's also tear-resistant, waterproof, non-toxic, recyclable, photodegradable, naturally white, and slightly more dense than traditional paper. It's made of 80% calcium carbonate and 20% HDPE and has no fibers. A few technical differences like being waterproof, extremely smooth, having no grain direction all make it a little special to print.


How long does it take to produce paper from stones and how can we imagine the process in short?

If a printer or publisher were to have books made of stone paper right now, it would have to be ordered. The supply is so small, there are hardly any warehouses stocked with it. That's the main influence on lead time. Production for a book job, let's say, would take around a week + delivery time to wherever it was going. The process itself is simple: Raw stones are milled into powder, the powder is mixed with the HDPE and extruded into pellets, the pellets are melted and blown into a very thin-walled tube, and the tube is cut open and the paper is either wrapped into cylinders or cut into sheets. Any waste produced by this process is recycled back into stone paper, which is also pretty cool.

In which kind of products can stone paper be used?

Stone paper can be used in pretty much anything from books to tableware (can be blow-molded) to grocery bags to packaging to labels. It just depends on how the characteristics of stone paper are leveraged. For example, we have developed a proprietary solution for using stone paper, which is normally quite soft, to create very stiff greyboards for hardcover books, further decreasing their environmental impact. Right now, stone paper is best suited for stationery and traditional books.


In what areas do you see big potential for stone paper in the near and distant future?

Developing stone paper is a long journey that must be taken in steps, each according to areas that we think stone paper has the most potential. Right now, we are determined to increase its use in publishing applications, because the printing is relatively straightforward, it has a very unique experience to offer readers, there are fewer regulations (as with consumable packaging), and books could increase the stone paper production the fastest. So I would say the next few years will be very promising in stone paper books. Once the supply grows, the price of stone paper is likely to drop lower than traditional paper (raw material costs of stone paper are a fraction of traditional paper), and we will see it explode in almost every market. That's where the real change for the whole world will happen I think.



About Pebble Printing Group


The founding of the Pebble Printing Group is a story of exploration and discovery starting in July, 2019. Hunter Bliss, an American engineer with a German printing education, began a publishing career in China, where he first made contact with stone paper. Realizing the potential for a type of paper without water or wood, he decided to conduct further research. After months of developing products with clients and academic investigation, it became clear that stone paper would inevitably replace paper. Growing paper consumption and changing legal landscapes would be the forces that bring about this development.


Since then, it has become a journey to connect customers and inform the market. First came notebooks, then children’s books, and packaging in rapid succession. Now the Pebble Printing Group operates as an independent entity providing masterful stone paper printing solutions internationally.


Fundraising Campaign Pebble Printing Group will soon launch a fundraiser campaign on kickstarter to produce a booklet with the money raised that will introduce stone paper to the global publishing industry. You can join the campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pebbleprinting/199096603?ref=2ekat2&token=0b79f5b5



To learn more about Pebble Printing Group and their services visit https://pebbleprinting.com/


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All images © Pebble Printing Group.

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