Wednesday, 30 September 2015

NCR Explained - What is Carbonless NCR within the Print industry?

What is carbonless NCR? An example of an NCR job.
What is carbonless NCR? An example of an NCR job.
Image is Copyright TradePrintingUK © 2011
NCR stands for "No Carbon Required".

It is a carbonless copy paper which is used to make a physical copy of an original, handwritten document. They have many uses for things like invoices, receipts and inventory forms. It usually comes in two, three or four parts depending on the needs of the client and how it works is really simple.

Say for example you have three parts [pages] for your document; whatever you write on the first part with a pen will be transferred onto the other parts below. This in turn will save you a lot of time if you're needing to keep an exact copy for the customer, your office and other needs too. 

NCR comes in a variety of paper sizes able to meet the requirements of your order. The most popular sizes are A5 and A4 but also offered are A6, 1/3rd A4 and A3.

How does Carbonless NCR paper work?

The image transfers down through a carbonless NCR Set by using pressure with a ballpoint pen on the top NCR Sheet. If, for example, it was a 3-part Triplicate NCR Set, then the pressure exerted on the Top Sheet would be pushed down through the other two sheets, released the duplicating chemical (Carbon Back) from the back of each sheet, which reacts (under pressure) with the top (Carbon Front) next sheet it's sitting on and leaves an impression on it; all the way down through the NCR Set like a helter-skelter.

Even though the individual sheets of paper are are described as Carbon Front (top sheet NCR), Carbon Front & Back (middle sheet NCR), and Carbon Front (bottom sheet NCR), none of these sheets actually contain any carbon. It's just a term of reference.

The secret to working efficiently with Carbonless NCR is to write with a ballpoint pen or top gel pen like a "Pilot G-2 07", available from all good supermarkets / stationers / Amazon and other online outlets.

See TradePrintingUK's video below "NCR Explained Animation - How does NCR paper work?" to show a quick, visual representation video of the action of pressure on carbonless paper:

Video is Copyright TradePrintingUK © 2013

What are carbonless 2-part Duplicate NCR Sets?

2-part NCR Set
2-part carbonless Duplicate NCR Set.
Image is Copyright TradePrintingUK © 2011

Duplicate ("2pt" "2-part") refers to a two page NCR product with a TOP COPY (1st part - this is the bit you write on) and a BOTTOM COPY (2nd part - the page which is replicated as you write on the page above).

There are three different types of 2-part Duplicate NCR products:


What are carbonless 3-part Triplicate NCR Sets?

3-part NCR Set
3-part carbonless Triplicate NCR Set.
Image is Copyright TradePrintingUK © 2011

Triplicate ("3pt" "3-part") refers to a three page NCR product which is the same as duplicate except there is now a MIDDLE COPY. It works in exactly the same way as a BOTTOM COPY except it also transfers the writing from the TOP COPY to the BOTTOM COPY also.

There are three different types of 3-part Triplicate NCR products:

What are carbonless 4-part Quadruplicate NCR Sets?

4-part NCR Set
4-part carbonless Quadruplicate NCR Set.
Image is Copyright TradePrintingUK © 2011

Quadruplicate ("4pt" "4-part") refers to a four page NCR product with TWO MIDDLE COPIES. They work in exactly the same way as the MIDDLE COPY found in a triplicate pad.

There are three different types of 4-part Quadruplicate NCR products:

What paper colour options are available for Carbonless NCR?

When ordering NCR, you are able to select the page colour sequence of your order. The standard specification for most carbonless NCR print orders has a WHITE Top sheet, plus a PINK coloured Bottom sheet.



You can however mix these combinations around to your own print requirements - usually however, WHITE remains the Top Sheet from a fit-for-purpose point of view. PINK & YELLOW is also a common, colour combination choice for the lower sheets as well, as some business people prefer the colour contrast with using YELLOW as the Bottom carbonless sheet (usually has the faintest image overall).

Optional Extras & Additions for NCR jobs

Sequential Numbering explained - Crash Numbering vs Skip Numbering

Sequential Numbering
Trade Printing UK use "Crashing Numbering" technique for their Sequential Numbering.
Image is Copyright TradePrintingUK © 2011

Sequential Numbering can be added to your order to provide you with a number relating to the page that the job is for.

Each NCR Set is numbered individually and commonly comes in a 5 digit format (can be up to 7 digits normally). Each PART of the set, pad or book are numbered the same as seen in the picture above. 

TradePrintingUK soley use a process variation called "Crash Numbering" whereby we would number and perforate (if NCR Books) at the same time down through all the sheets of the carbonless job. Sequential Numbering is always done as a separate (off-press), finishing option by as it allows us more control of the process plus less likelihood of sheets skipping as they could potentially do if printed "in-line" actually at the printing stage on the press (Heidelberg GTO presses would Skip number in-line on the printing presses). Again, we only "Crash Number".


Well, for starters, we focus on jobs that would have a single, unique number per NCR Set. An example would be a Starting Number of 00001, and the finishing number of 00500 (with a 500 NCR Sets / 10 NCR Pads / 10 NCR Books Order).

"Skip Numbering" is when the same sequence (e.g. 00001-00050 is printed on every book, thus you'd have 500 Sets, each identically numbered from 1-50, as opposed to "Crash Numbered" which would be 00001-00500 in total.

Attached "Hinged Writing Shields" (OPTIONAL EXTRA)

Attached Hinged Writing Shield on a Carbonless NCR Book, printed by Trade Printing UK
Optional Hinged Writing Shields used on a carbonless NCR Book.
Image is Copyright TradePrintingUK © 2011

Hinged Writing Shields are an additional extra (paid for) finishing feature that can be added to NCR Pads and NCR Books.

Unlike a standard, loose writing shield that peels off the top card cover initially, the optional, attached Hinged Writing Shield is attached to the NCR Pad or NCR Book and can be slid underneath the desired page and then returned to the back of the book for future use.

The purpose of an attached Hinged Writing Shield or even a standard writing shield is to protect the indentation from your pen transferring onto undesired sets, or if an NCR Pad or Book is being handled continually in a rough, non-office environment (e.g. within a factory, or out on the road in a delivery driver's van as it's thrown or kicked behind the driver's seat after every delivery drop.





Optional pair of Drill Holes on a Carbonless NCR Book, printed by Trade Printing UK
You can have either 2 or 4 Drill Holes on an NCR printed job.
Image is Copyright TradePrintingUK © 2011
Drill Holes are another popular extra (paid for) that you can specify to have applied to any carbonless NCR product.

Available as either a 2-hole or 4-hole drill option, it is a popular choice for those who like to file their office stationery properly, saving them time with a hole punch in their office.

This allows the user to store and file either individual sets into a printed presentation folder for filing and safekeeping, or the entire Pad or Book.

Extra space (25mm or so) needs to be designed into the job, usually on the LEFT-hand-side.

Can you help me further with carbonless NCR?

If you're interested in Carbonless NCR, then are print specialists in the subject. If you want to find out more, contact us today on Tel: 028 9084 1234, or e-mail:

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