Self-copy prints indispensable in every company

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Self-copying prints are a special type of blanks consisting of several layers. The principle of operation is simple – the text written on the top layer is automatically copied onto all lower layers. 

The technology was developed by the American company National Cash Register in 1954. The invention quickly became very popular, especially in companies where various types of forms are filled out by hand.

The principle of self-copying printouts

The technology of copying written text on several layers is based on the use of three different types of paper with a special layer of microcapsules applied on one or both sides. Under the pressure of a pen during writing, the microcapsules are destroyed, a reaction occurs between the released components and the corresponding places on the print darken. This creates a copy of the text on the top layer.

Self-copying forms are filled out by hand or on dot-matrix printers. Laser and inkjet printers are not compatible with this technology. The maximum number of layers recommended by manufacturers is no more than 5 for manual filling and no more than 6 for a printer. This is due to the difficulty in deciphering texts on increasingly further layers.

Features of self-copy prints

Self-copy prints are made, depending on the size of the print run, by offset or risograph printing. The latter option is advantageous for a small number of forms. The sheets used in the prints are usually quite thin, which is necessary so that several layers can be used. At the same time, the top and bottom sheets are thicker. The most common formats for self-copying forms are A5 and A4. To ensure maximum accuracy of image alignment on the prints, it is necessary to keep the size of the information fields within at least 2 × 2 cm. The color of each layer can be blue, green, yellow, pink or white.

There are also unusual types of self-copy paper, on which text can be copied from an ordinary sheet of paper. Another variant are sheets that have so-called “dead zones” on the surface, where no copying is done. This effect is achieved by deactivating the microcapsule layer with a special ink.

Individual layers

Self-copying prints are made of multilayer paper. Traditionally, they are printed in one shade with additional numbering or perforation. The original is on top, and 1, 2 or 3 copies are underneath. A larger number of layers is rarely seen.

The set consists of several sheets:

  • the first – with microcapsules on the back, which crack under pressure and cause the paint to imprint on the next form;
  • the second/center sheet – there is an absorbent layer on the sheet, which prevents the ink from blurring, on the back of which is transfer paper, that is, containing microcapsules;
  • the last sheet – the receiver. Its surface absorbs ink, and on the back there are no more color capsules.

What are self-copying prints used for?

Self-copy paper is most often used for various forms that are used in everyday office work – contracts, invoices, receipts, waybills, deeds, etc. They greatly facilitate the hard, monotonous work of filling out documents by hand. Such forms are used in accounting, travel, restaurant, car service companies, etc. The advantage of their use is that there is no need for calculators and photocopiers, which reduces financial costs and time.

main photo: unsplash.com/Marissa Grootes

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