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When it comes to making copies of documents without printing, two types of paper is used: carbon and carbonless. The two are widely used around the world. And not many people know and understand the difference between the two types, although the differences are rather significant. Basically, the 3-layer carbonless paper is the more popular choice.

Let’s see why.

Carbon Paper

The carbon paper is coated on one side with a dark substance that contains carbon and can be seen as the original version of electronic-free paper copying. The way it works is by putting a sheet in between the original and blank sheet that you want to the copy to be on. Then, you write or type onto the original and the ink from the paper appears onto the new sheet of paper, so the thing that is written on the original with a bit of pressure is transferred onto the new sheet. This is what is called a carbon copy.

The first appearance of the carbon paper can be noted around the 19th century when a stylographic writer was used. After several years, carbon paper was used with a new type of a typewriting machine and this meant expanding of its use and developing of its features.

Carbonless Copy Paper

This type of paper, also known as NCR, is stain free and biodegradable which makes it the best eco-friendly option. It is much easier to transfer the ink onto the sheets because it relies on pressure from the pen or pencil so that it can create the chemical reaction that leaves a copy.

The way it works is by placing a white sheet of paper above and one coloured sheet of paper below in order to create a duplicate. For three copies, you need one white top sheet and two coloured sheets below. This is called a triplicate. Of course, you can produce a quadruplicate (a four-part copy) with 4 sheets of paper, one white and three coloured ones.

The non-carbonless feature of this type also enables easy copying and easy handling for more than ten copies. For this purpose, there are duplicate books that the user can use to produce as many copies as they want. The carbonless duplicate book for a triplicate copies consists of three sheets where the first one is a CB sheet and this is the original. Its bottom part is coated in a layer of microcapsules with colour formers. Then, the second sheet is CFB and its top side is coated with chemicals that help it react to the colour formers while on the bottom of the sheets there is a transfer layer also with microcapsules that copies what you write to the last sheet. And finally, the last sheet or the CF has a top side with a receptive layer that reacts to the bottom side of the second CFB sheet.

Range of Uses

The first and most important use of the carbon and carbonless copy paper is to make copies of receipts. In addition, they are used for transfer invoices, service tickets, sales order and purchase orders. The carbonless copy paper can add the following uses on its list too: quotes, legal forms, insurance forms, delivery forms, employment applications, proposals etc.

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One comment

  • Franklin White
    Franklin White

    I think it’s so cool how easy it is to copy things from one piece of paper to another by using carbonless paper. I want to help my kids learn while we are stuck in quarantine. I think I could easily use this paper to make copies and give it to them so they can all work on the same thing together.

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