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Collaborative Testing Services, Inc.   anniversary

P.O. Box 650820, Sterling, VA, USA 20165-0820  1-571-434-1925


Paper and paper products are everywhere, commonly accepted and commonly expected to perform their various functions with quality and reliability. Underlying this premise is the need for accurate and precise testing to ensure that reality matches expectations. Determining the trustworthiness of that testing is a critical component. The economics of the paper industry demand that your quality testing keep you ahead of the curve to stave off problems that could impact the bottom line.
At CTS, we have developed a convenient and cost-effective testing program that keeps you one step ahead. Established in 1971, the CTS Paper Program was the first and remains the largest interlaboratory program of its kind, allowing hundreds of organizations worldwide to continuously monitor their testing performance. With guidance from TAPPI, CTS offers a wide array of tests across four properties: Dimensional, Mechanical, Optical and Physical testing. Laboratories may customize their testing programs by selecting tests from any of these categories. As an added feature, and to make ongoing assessment easier, CTS provides each laboratory with Trend Charts that summarizes lab performance over a revolving year. Your laboratory will have a clear picture of the reliability of its measurements both over time and as compared to other laboratories around the world. The CTS Paper Program makes it uncommonly easy to meet the quality demands placed on your laboratory.

Dimensional Tests

These analyses include Caliper testing for both Print and Package materials.

Mechanical Tests

CTS' largest category includes important test properties such as Burst, Tear, Tensile as well as many other test methods and material types.

Optical Tests

Tests in this category include Brightness (both Directional and Diffuse), Opacity, Color & Color Difference and Gloss.

Physical Tests

Test offerings in this grouping cover the measurement of various physical properties including Roughness, Grammage, Moisture Content and HST.

CTS Paper Program History

The ubiquitous nature of paper and paper products belies the accurate and precise testing that must be conducted to ensure the suitability of paper for even routine applications. The wide range of paper types and properties to be tested only add to the complexities of the industry. The diversity of the industry is reflected in the many industry and government groups, products and analyses that have shaped the Paper and Paperboard Interlaboratory Program since its initiation.

In April 1969, the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST) and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) developed an interlaboratory program for paper and paperboard testing. While we usually trace the roots of the program back to this first bimonthly TAPPI Collaborative Reference Program for Paper, the governments interest in paper stretched back much further. As is often the case, this interest was driven by necessity. The work in 1969 built on a legacy of standards and testing of paper filters used in WWI gas masks. While the interlaboratory program had little to do with this application, it is no accident that the TAPPI Program is considered one of the first modern, large-scale interlaboratory surveys.

Modern readers of the first report would see many familiar friends. Of the 10 original tests, nine are still active in some form in the current program: Bursting Strength, Tearing Strength, Tensile Strength, Gurley Porosity (Air Resistance), Sheffield Smoothness (Roughness), Opacity, Directional Brightness, Diffuse Brightness and Gloss. Only IGT Pick Strength is no longer offered. The program already contained the two-sample statistical design; the samples offered were a coated 70lb. lithograph offset and an uncoated 60lb. book offset. But there have indeed been several changes since 1969. It appears that originally all the paper for the tests was supplied by Champion Paper. All of the reporting laboratories used the Martin Sweets (GE) instrument for brightness, and pendulum (constant rate of load, CRL) tensile testers outnumbered load cell (constant rate of elongation, CRE) testers by a 40 to 30 margin.

The program grew quickly: by the start of 1973, there were 22 tests offered. By 1974 the survey was split into 3 parts, each conducted in the same month Part A for Strength, Part B for Physical and Sheet Properties and Part C for Optical Properties. Later in 1976, the format was changed to accommodate Strength Tests in the S program and General Tests in the G program. Later still, the programs were offered in alternating months.

In the same era, 1974 to 1976, a joint program with Englands PIRA (then, Paper Industry Research Association) was initiated to cover a number of analyses that are known to be important but at this time have only limited interest among participants in the program. These reports combined results from both groups in a diverse array of analyses, 11 in all, such as Beach Puncture resistance, Schopper Folding endurance, K&N Ink Absorbency and Ring Crush. Also included were eight US and six English labs using the new Parker Printsurf Roughness method. Ring Crush testing of linerboard was included in the program for eight years, despite its being the only linerboard test offered; eventually the test was moved to the Containerboard Program. Following on this tradition of tests for packaging materials, in 1981 the Fiber Box Association (FBA) co-sponsored a program for Flat Crush Strength, Bursting Strength and Edgewise Compression of corrugated boards.

In addition, between 1985 and 1990 CTS operated a program specifically for Proctor & Gamble (P&G) laboratories which included a wide array of consumer paper products including disposable diapers and their components, kitchen tissues, facial tissues and bath tissues. Although these tests were never incorporated into the regular program, the P&G program spurred further Paper program expansion. Newsprint testing was incorporated into the program in 1991, with the assistance of members of the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA). And the Recycled Paperboard Trade Association (RPTA) joined with CTS to offer testing to its members in 1993 and 1995. After those years of expansion and outreach, more than 250 laboratories world-wide were involved in a program that began in April 1969 with fewer than 75 labs and 10 properties.

The rise of the digital age has reduced paper's footprint but has not diminished the need for reliable measurements. Organizations around the world still participate in the largest program of its kind. Most importantly, the CTS Paper and Paperboard Program continues to achieve two critical objectives: it allows laboratories to compare the performance of their testing with that of other laboratories, and provides a realistic picture of the state of paper testing for TAPPIs technical committees.

CTS Paper Program Schedule

Enroll at any time during the year. A subscription to a test includes six cycles, which are outlined below. Although Paper tests are offered across several categories, for test administration and shipping purposes, Paper tests are divided into two groups. Odd Month tests (formerly "S" tests; test nos. 3100-3499) occur in odd-numbered months (January, March, May, July, September, and November). Even Month tests (formerly "G" tests; test nos. 3500-3799) occur in even-numbered months (February, April, June, August, October, and December).
Note that data due dates occur approximately 6 weeks after a shipment date and results must be submitted on or before a data due date in order to be included in the report.
Participants can track shipments, submit data and access reports through the CTS Customer Portal.

Odd Month Tests (#3100-3499)

Enroll Between: Samples Ship: Data Due: Report Issued:
January 6 - March 5 3rd Week of April Last Week of May 3rd Week of June
March 6 - May 5 3rd Week of June Last Week of July 3rd Week of August
May 6 - July 5 3rd Week of August Last Week of September 3rd Week of October
July 6 - September 5 3rd Week of October Last Week of November 3rd Week of December
September 6 - November 5 3rd Week of December Last Week of January 3rd Week of February
November 6 - January 5 3rd Week of February Last Week of March 3rd Week of April

Even Month Tests (#3500-3799)

Enroll Between: Samples Ship: Data Due: Report Issued:
February 6 - April 5 3rd Week of May Last Week of June 3rd Week of July
April 6 - June 5 3rd Week of July Last Week of August 3rd Week of September
June 6 - August 5 3rd Week of September Last Week of October 3rd Week of November
August 6 - October 5 3rd Week of November Last Week of December 3rd Week of January
October 6 - December 5 3rd Week of January Last Week of February 3rd Week of March
December 6 - February 5 3rd Week of March Last Week of April 3rd Week of May

Summary Reports

Portal Links

Participants in CTS Paper Program tests can access Test Instructions on the CTS Customer Portal.

A Guide to Interpreting Performance Analysis Reports, available as well on the CTS Customer Portal, assists participants in understanding and getting maximum benefit from the individual reports issued at the completion of each testing round.