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How long can paper sit in storage and still be useable?

Our in-house On Demand printing group ordered an eighteen month supply of Xerox #20 paper in error. How long can this paper sit cartoned in a warehouse (not humidity controlled) and still run okay on our Docutech equipment?

K. N.

The Xerox 20# paper in question should last just fine for at least two years in normal, reasonable warehouse conditions, even if the warehouse is not humidity controlled. This hinges upon keeping the paper in both the original ream wrapping and the shipping cartons until taken into the production facility for use.

Here are some tips for storing and conditioning paper:

  • Handle pallets and cartons carefully. Mishandling the cartons can result in physical damage to the paper, some of which may not be immediately obvious.

  • Do not store paper directly on the floor since that increases the possibility of moisture absorption. Paper should be stored on pallets, shelves or in cabinets in an area protected from extremes of temperature and humidity if possible.

  • Do not open sealed reams of paper until ready to load them into the printer. Leave paper in the original ream wrapper and leave the reams in the shipping carton. The ream wrapper contains an inner lining that protects the paper from moisture loss or gain. Removing the ream wrapper eliminates that protective barrier, subjecting the paper to fluctuations that can result in excessive curl, wavy edges, tight edges and other undesirable effects.

  • If cartons or reams are stacked, they should be placed carefully on top of one another to avoid crushing the edges or causing any other damage.

  • It is recommended that paper be stacked no more than five cartons high. Pallets may be stacked three high.

  • The temperature of the room where paper is stored can have a significant effect on how that paper performs in the machine. Optimum paper storage and printer operating temperature is 68 to 76 degrees F (20 to 24.4 degrees C).

  • Control of humidity is important. Optimum paper storage conditions include a relative humidity of 35% to 55%.

  • When paper is moved from a storage area to the production facility with a different temperature and humidity, condition the paper to the new location before use. The following chart helps determine the amount of time needed to condition stacked, unopened cartons of paper.

This tip was adapted from Helpful Facts About Paper, © 1999 Xerox Corporation. For more information contact Cheryl Freer, Xerox Supplies Business Group, at To learn more about the full line of Xerox digitally optmized papers, substrates, and supplies visit: .

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