Printing A Stone Paper Bible: Some Initial Thoughts

Originally featured in Printing Impressions on January 26th, 2022 (https://www.piworld.com/post/stone-paper-bible-some-initial-thoughts/)

The bible, like the other major religious texts, are the printing bedrock of every civilization. Since man has been able to reproduce information on other substrates, it has always been used for religious purposes first and foremost. 

But since founding Pebble Printing Group I have lived in Shenzhen, China. In Shenzhen, I don’t have the networking capacity or audience to succeed with a local crowdfunding campaign amongst the small Christian community there. 

This situation has completely changed, as I have officially decided to live permanently back home in the United States. Right now I’m in Lexington, South Carolina. After being gone for 8 years in China and Germany, coming back here feels like being in a foreign country again. I forgot how powerful the Christian community is in the United States. Clearly I have found people who could appreciate a bible made out of a better paper material, and maybe my first instinct to print a bible was well founded.

The Advantages

Tear Resistant

Stone paper is much more tear resistant than fragile bible paper. Granted, the film thickness on the above sheet for comparison is three times the bible paper, but from experience I can tell you stone paper is tear resistant at all thicknesses. It can be stretched to impressive lengths before finally giving way.

Waterproof

Stone paper is waterproof, full stop. Bible paper can’t handle the slightest amount of water based on my test.

Aging

Stone paper doesn’t yellow with time, because it doesn’t contain plant fibers. And while it has a higher sensitivity to photodegradation, it could be stored for a much longer time on a bookshelf than traditional paper. It also changes less under the influence of moisture in the air.

Quality

Stone paper’s touch is unique and soft. It’s basically marble waste from high purity calcium carbonate, and lends itself to bible printing.

Unanswered Questions

Why does it seem like stone paper is cheaper than bible paper? 

According to initial research, it seems like bible paper is made partially from other fibers like cotton. Checking the prices of bible paper on Alibaba, it seems like bible paper sells for about $1500-2000/ton compared to regular offset paper at $800-1100/ton. Stone paper sells for around $1300/ton. Even with a higher density considered, would we seriously be cheaper than bible paper?

How would the density behave at such low thicknesses? 

Stone paper above 100 gsm weight is 20% more dense than traditional paper. As the film thickness gets lower and lower, it’s my understanding that this becomes less of a problem. If we could make a similar weight as traditional bible paper, it wouldn’t be too much heavier. This will surely require samples. Bible papers achieve astounding thicknesses of 37 microns at 24-60 gsm, it would be interesting to see how our stretchy material performs at that level.

Who in the US could print a project like this?

This project is uncompromising in quality and it must be printed in the USA. Are there any readers in the audience who would have some suggestions for a good gravure printer? We are going to need some quotes, design advice, and maybe a YouTube collaboration. 

Small sponsorships for advertising would be welcome FYI! This project carries significant costs.

That’s pretty much it for now. I have officially made this project a goal for the entire year of 2022, so I look forward to potential contacts in the American printing industry and a fun learning experience. Stay tuned for updates at pebbleprinting.com or contact me directly at [email protected]

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