Both carbon and carbonless paper can be used to make copies of documents without any electronic devices. There are differences in each kind, both in how they are made and their uses. Overall, 3-part carbonless paper is a more popular option than carbon paper alternatives, and here is why.
Carbon paper is the original version of electronic-free document copying. It is coated on one side with a dark, ink-like substance that usually contains carbon. It makes copies with the creation on the first document.
A sheet is put in between the original and blank sheet the user wants the copy to appear on. They write or type onto the original and the pressure from the application puts ink onto the blank sheet. This creates a carbon copy.
Carbon paper was first used around the 19th century with a patent for something called a stylographic writer. A few years later, another inventor created a typewriting machine using carbon paper as part of its function. This means carbon paper was discovered and growing around the same time.
Carbonless paper, also known as NCR paper, is a better and more popular alternative to carbon paper. It is stain free and biodegradable and easier to transfer. It also relies on pressure from a writing utensil in order to create the chemical reaction that leaves a copy on pages below the top copy.
To make two copies of a document, papers would have a white top sheet and one colored second sheet below. This is called a two-part or duplicate. To make three copies, there is a white top sheet and two colored sheets directly below. This is called a three-part or triplicate. Four copies would be called a four-part or quadruplicate.
Sometimes, users requires stacks of ten or more copies. This is easy to do with NCR paper. Carbonless copy paper is supplied to the end user collated in pads or books. They are bound into sets using glue or staple. Loose sets or continuous stationary is widely used in printers. Businesses can also specially order as many stacks of carbonless copy paper as needed.
For a 3 part carbonless paper, there are three sheets. The first is the CB sheet that is the original to be copies. The bottom part of the sheet is coated in a layer of microcapsules that contain color formers.
The CFB sheet is second. The top side is coated with a receptive layer which reacts chemically with the color former on the top CB sheet. On the bottom of the sheet, a transfer layer with microcapsules transfers the copy to the last sheet.
The third sheet, or CF sheet, is on the bottom of the set. The top side is the receptive layer which reacts with the microcapsules color former on the sheet above it. The receptive layer is most often manufactured using activated clays.
Carbon and carbonless paper is mostly used to make copies of receipts. It serves as a backup operation in case computer systems fail. These paper options are also used to transfer invoices, service tickets, sales order, and purchase orders. Carbon and carbonless paper is used by modern artists as a surface for beginning a painting.
Carbon paper has some unique uses. Police offers use carbon paper for evidence vouchers. Prison inmates are required to use carbon paper when writing letters or other notes so the prison has a copy. Business forms utilize carbon paper for purchase orders and invoices. Banks and small firms are the biggest buyers of carbon paper.
Carbon paper is also commonly used among tattoo artists. The artists can practice draw designs and show it to the customer as they work on it, making changes as needed. The paper is moistened and pressed to the skin to leave a carbon outline. Customers can also bring in a design or message they want tattooed and carbon paper transfers it.
Carbonless paper can be used for these uses and more. Quotes, legal forms, employment applications, insurance forms, proposals, and delivery forms all use carbonless paper. NCR paper can also be used for requisition forms, tracking manifests, and contracts.